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.
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.
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.
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:
A beautiful piece of embroidery from 1937, showing Bakewell Market Place:
And a collection of textile samples, including this elephant pattern:
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.
In our Franklin collection we’ve come across this scrapbook:
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.
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…
As it’s World Chocolate Day today, here is a gorgeous Russian chocolate box, decorated with illustrations of Hans Christian Anderson tales:
There are even still some – sadly empty – 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.
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:
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:
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:
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.
I’ve just cleaned and repaired this amazing map of the Arctic; it’s from an 1848 printed copy of the instructions Sir John Franklin was given for his expedition.
This is the repaired map:
While moving some of our outsize items to more suitable shelves last week (a seemingly endless job), I came across an unusually thick volume (D4984/11/1). I don’t normally look at the records I’m moving – I would never get anything done if I did! – but occasionally I allow my curiosity to get the better of me and I removed the packaging:
I’m sure you’ll agree it’s big! When I opened a random page, it became clear that this is a pattern book, with some lovely fabric samples:
We have other pattern books in our collection and they’re always a pleasure to look at, although most have a wider variety; the samples in this book are all very delicate and in pastel colours. Looking at some other pages, I was surprised to find examples of metal fastenings and some kind of metal rods – definitely not something I’d come across before:
And then right at the back of the book it all goes very feminine again, with examples of pretty trims and bows:
Intrigued, I looked in our catalogue when I got back to my office: it is indeed a pattern book, dating from the late nineteenth century, from an Ashbourne company called Richard Cooper and Co. Have you guessed what they made?
The Derbyshire Times has a big article about our crowdfunding campaign and did you catch us – very briefly – on East Midlands Today on Wednesday evening? Great to see so much interest!
And we’ve had another wonderful comment from a supporter:
‘Cultural history is very important and we should do everything necessary to preserve our knowledge of it’
Will you be next to help us preserve our cultural history? Then support us on our crowdfunding page or by calling our reception on 01629 538 347.