Happy Valentine’s Day!

A treat from our Franklin collection: the Valentine poem Eleanor Porden wrote in 1823 for her fiancé, John Franklin. We’re very lucky to have two versions – here’s the original draft:

draft frontdraft recto

And here is the letter she sent him on 14 February 1823, with her handwriting ‘disguised’:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The symbols on the letter (presumably purporting to be Inuit) tie in with the mention of Coppermine River, the river in North Canada John Franklin had traveled down during his Coppermine Expedition of 1819 to 1822.  Eleanor seems to be writing as if she is an Inuit woman – see the post about Miss Green Stockings to find out more!

 

 

 

Repairing the Richardson letters

In our Franklin collection is an album containing about a hundred letters, mainly written by Sir John Franklin (1786-1847) to his good friend and fellow arctic explorer, Sir John Richardson (1787-1865). The letters had been stuck into the album with a shiny, translucent tape, which had also been used to carry out repairs. In order to ensure the long-term survival of these letters we decided to remove them from the album: many were loose already and at risk of falling out, and the tape was causing further damage to the paper.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We carried out a few tests on the repair tape and found that the adhesive was water soluble. The inks used were stable in water, so we were able to wash the letters and remove all remnants of the tape this way. An additional benefit to having washed the letters is that it has flushed out all kinds of dirt and degradation that had become ingrained in the paper, and it has re-invigorated the paper fibres, making the letters feel stronger again.

All the letters have now been repaired with handmade conservation repair paper and wheat starch paste. Here are some examples of letters before, during and after the process:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In case you were wondering, if in a few hundred years’ time one of our successors wants to remove these repairs in order to treat the letters with whatever amazing technique that may be available then, all they will need to do is wash them again and all our repairs will simply float off.

We have of course saved the original album as part of the collection – if you would like to see it and the letters, just pop in and ask for D8760/F/FJR/1/1/1-92. Or have a look on our catalogue for a description of their contents, as they are full of fascinating information about Franklin’s expeditions, his time in Tasmania, and his home life. But as we are in Matlock, my favourite snippet has to be this from 13 June 1823:

D8760 F FJR 1 1 5 Matlock

‘I went up today to Matlock, and was much delighted with the scenery. I think it equals in richness and the picturesque anything I have seen – though it is not so grand as some we have beheld in America. Mrs Richardson will be gratified to learn that its prettiest parts reminded me of different spots in Scotland.’ (D8760/F/FJR/1/1/5)

Looking out of my window as I type this, with the tops of the hills shrouded in mist, I can only agree!

 

Flowers of remembrance

We’ve just archivally packaged a very touching group of items: dried flowers collected from the grave of Eleonar Gell (Sir John Franklin’s daughter) in Tredunnoc, Monmouthshire. They were mounted on black-edged card by her husband John Philip Gell for their seven children – Eleanor, Franklin, Philip, Mary, Henry, Alice and Lucy – and stored together in a blue cover.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The date on the cards is that of Eleanor’s funeral, a few days after her death on 30 August 1860 – she was 36.

The flowers are still in remarkable condition and to keep them that way we’ve placed each card in an archival polyester sleeve and then made a folder to store them in so we keep them out of light.  We’ve then made another folder so we can keep the dried flowers together with the cover.

This memorial to a lost parent’s love should now be safe for at least another 160 years.

 

The Strange Case of the Wandering Spoon

Fantastic detective work from our colleagues at Buxton Museum!

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

I am working on a project funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation that is overseeing the re-homing of the objects from the School library Loans Service in Derby. This collection consists of paintings, studio pottery, archaeological, ethnographic and social history items. Sadly, Buxton Museum and Art Gallery can only keep a small percentage of this wonderful and eclectic mix of items. Through detective work that involves sifting through old records, myself and my colleague have been gathering information on where the items came from over the fifty years the service was collecting. We are contacting museums and community groups in the areas that these objects originate from to see if they would like the items so that they can have a new lease of life.

The Roman spoon at Buxton museum and Art Gallery

One of these items is a Roman silver spoon, elegant in its shape and practical in…

View original post 524 more words

The stilly night

For National Poetry Day, an excerpt from a poem by Thomas Moore, as copied out by William Howitt (1792-1879), from Heanor:

Oft in the stilly night

When slumber’s chain has bound me,

Fond mem’ry brings the light

Of other days around me;

The smiles, the tears

Of childhoods years,

The words of love then spoken;

The eyes that shone,

Now dim’d and gone,

The cheerful hearts, now broken.

Thus, in the stilly night,

When slumber’s chain has bound me,

Fond mem’ry brings the light

Of other days around me.

poem

 

 

Discovering objects

Our crowdfunding campaign for packaging the objects from our Franklin collection has reached its £1000 target! A huge thank you to everyone who has donated – your support is much appreciated.

The Franklin objects have made us realise that we have other fabulous, exciting – and sometimes downright strange – objects in some of our other collections, which should also be properly packaged in museum quality boxes. So we’ve decided that any extra money we receive through our crowdfunding campaign will be spent on looking after those items.  We’re sure to discover more of them as we start hunting through our collections, but to give you an idea of the kind of objects we have:

An Ashbourne Shrovetide football from the 1930’s:

football

A beautiful piece of embroidery from 1937, showing Bakewell Market Place:

embroidery

And a collection of textile samples, including this elephant pattern:

elephant

If you’d like to help us look after these and other objects (we’ll blog about more of them as we uncover and re-package them), then you have until 3.00 pm on Friday 19 July to donate on our crowdfunding page.

Arctic scraps

In our Franklin collection we’ve come across this scrapbook:

D3311 87 001

It was most likely put together by Lady Jane Franklin herself, although we don’t know whether she gave it the rather fabulous title of ‘Arctic scraps’. It is full of newspaper cuttings, prints, and other material related to the efforts to find the missing expedition.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It also includes posters offering rewards for helping in the search: Lady Jane herself offered £3000 to whaling ships willing to take part and the UK government even offered £20,000. The National Archives has a handy currency converter, which tells us that this equates to approximately £240,500 and £1,6 million in today’s money!

 

We don’t have a £20,000 reward on offer, but we do have a selection of rewards for you to choose from if you donate to our crowdfunding campaign. And if  you choose the Behind the Scenes Tour, we’ll even add in a cup of tea and some nice biscuits…

A Russian chocolate box

As it’s World Chocolate Day today, here is a gorgeous Russian chocolate box, decorated with illustrations of Hans Christian Anderson tales:

chocolate box

chocolate details

There are even still some – sadly empty – wrappers:

chocolate wrappers

The box is from the archive of John R. Biggs (1909-1988), a distinguished wood engraver, typographer and graphic designer from Derby.  Biggs was appointed Head of Graphic Design at Brighton School of Art in 1951, a post he retained until his retirement in 1974. Throughout the nineteen seventies and eighties he traveled extensively in Russia and the Baltic States, exploring Eastern European art and design. We have his entire archive, including his tools and many of his wood blocks; you can find it all in our online catalogue.

We’re still crowdfunding! So go on, have a chocolate (it’s allowed today) and donate on our crowdfunding page. 

 

Three fans

Within the collection of objects that we’ve called ‘Lady Jane’s Museum’ there are three beautiful fans which may have belonged to Lady Jane Franklin or to the Gell family from Hopton Hall. According to an expert at The Fan Museum in Greenwich, the oldest one dates from the seventeenth century:

D3311 OBJ 02 3 unfolded ruler

In the earlier part of the seventeenth century the most commonly used fans were ‘fixed’ and consisted of feathers set into a handle. Later on in the century folded, hand-painted fans, such as the one above, gained in popularity; by the end of the century the folded fans had completely superseded the fixed ones.

Next is an early eighteenth century fan; by this time folding fans were very popular and were being made all over Europe and imported from the Far East:

D3311_OBJ_02_2_unfolded_ruler[1]

The third fan dates from around 1805-1810 and is a brisé ivory fan. This type of fan consists only of decorative sticks, with no pleated fabric attached:

D3311 OBJ 02 1 unfolded ruler

The sticks of brisé fans are usually intricately carved and held together with a ribbon which is either glued to each stick, or – as in this case- threaded through pierced openings. The carvings were meant to give the illusion of filigree or lace.

Our fabulous fans are in great condition considering their age and we’ll heed the Fan Museum’s advice by storing them closed in museum boxes. If you’d like to help us look after them, as well as the other objects in Lady Jane’s Museum, you can donate on our crowdfunding page  or call our reception on 01629 538347.

A week and a half into our crowdfunding campaign we’ve already raised £565! Every little nudge that will get us closer to our £1000 goal is much appreciated.