A fundraising appeal launched just two months ago has succeeded in raising the necessary funds to buy an important collection of political caricatures from the Regency period for the collection at Brighton's Royal Pavilion.

The Royal Pavilion and Museums Foundation needed a total of £58,870 to secure the 235 prints for Brighton, creating a national collection second only to that held by the British Museum.

Despite funding of £15,000 from the Victoria and Albert Grant fund, £7,000 from The Pilgrim Trust, £14,624 promised support from The Art Fund, and £22,246 from the foundation's own reserves, there was still a shortfall of £15,000.

The foundation turned to the Friends of the Royal Pavilion and Museums, and a members appeal brought in £18,920, nearly £4,000 more than required. The excess will now be used towards the cost of conserving the caricatures.

David Beevers, keeper of the historic Royal Pavilion, said: "Thanks to the generosity of the foundation's supporters we have saved this important part of the golden age of political caricatures.

"These philanthropic individuals stepped in to allow us to secure the deal when we were £15,000 short and the whole project looked in jeopardy. Thanks to them we have these works of immense historic value as part of our collection."

The political cartoons date from the end of the 18th century to the middle of the 19th. They are now in the safe hands of the Royal Pavilion and Museum's fine art team for cataloguing, cleaning and restoration.

Jenny Lund, curator of fine art, said: "They are incomparable, and offer an extraordinary insight into the politics, the costume, the manner, the very fabric of life in the Regency period.

"Not only do they bring a vivid immediacy to historical events, they are of unsurpassed research value."

"The Royal Pavilion and Museums already owns and displays work by artists such as James Gillray, Thomas Rowlandson, George Cruikshank, and William Heath, and so adding Lord Baker's collection of caricatures from the Regency period resonates strongly not just with our current holdings, but with our collections policy generally."

Although it is not unusual for individual prints to come up for sale, it is rare for such an extensive collection to become available. The 235 prints are of particular interest to the Royal Pavilion collection as they portray George IV in his roles as Prince of Wales, Prince Regent as well as King.

Museum staff hope to be able to put some of the prints on public display next year, to mark 200 years since George IV was made Prince Regent. However, further funds would be required to mount such an exhibition.

Rob Yates, head of fundraising, said: "How timely it would be to hold this next year on the 200th anniversary of the Regency Act - but it depends on the generosity of potential sponsors to make that happen."

With the current appeal for a good cartoon to capture the mood, and the British love of seeing politicians lampooned, this collection has lost none of its appeal, the foundation said. The caricatures display vividly officials and elder statesman of the day being ridiculed - almost as a symbol of recognition and importance.

Despite the success of its first appeal, the foundation knows it still has a tough time ahead. Mr Yates added: "Saving the caricatures was just the tip of a very big iceberg. There is still an enormous amount to do to support the world-famous Royal Pavilion and the city's cultural heritage, but I am confident that residents of Sussex will rally round and help us in our endeavours."

For more information on how to become a member of the The Royal Pavilion and Museums Foundation go to www.brighton-hove-pavilion.org.uk.