Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Object Name: Maple Leaf
Accessioned: 1998 (?)
Notes:Collected in the garden of Louisa May Alcott.
Comments: In the late nineties my brother spent some time in Boston. Being a young girl, I had inevitably read Little Women and it's sequels. So while visiting Alcott's house in Boston, he collected this leaf for me from the garden. He has always been very good at finding objects like this, regardless of whether they are 'found' like this, that mean a vast amount. As I was so smitten with this when it was presented to me my mother got it framed for me. I rediscovered it amongst items carefully packed boxes from my later adolescence a few years ago. It now has pride of place on my wall. Of course this has even greater meaning now as my brother moved to Canada. If I believed in fate, I might read into that and this entry would be a lot longer.
Object Name: Worry Dolls or Sorgenbeutel
Accessioned: 2004 (?)
Notes:gift from a friend.
Comments: I suppose these items don't a very complicated story, but they are very beautiful. A friend of mine was studying German and spent a year abroad in Germany. She now lives there, I suppose good beer in that quantity is hard to pass up. I think she bought these in the Nuremberg Christmas market along with a Christmas lantern. So like my Mammoth worry dolls, you tell these three your worries, place them under your pillow and the next day you will feel better! Obviously my friends think I worry too much, maybe I should distract myself further by making my own.
Monday, November 8, 2010
Object Name: Globe
Accessioned: December 2009
Notes: Bought by my mother.
Comments: Last Christmas my parent's house was rampant with nostalgia. Myself and my siblings delved into bookshelves, investigated cupboards and riffled through photo albums. This resulted in my mother trying to encourage her children to take away more of their possessions, or to allow for them to be given away. It was at this point the old globe was produced. My mother bought this in the 1980s when we were all kids, it was around the same time she got The World Book and the Encyclopaedia. Seeing as I was born right in the middle of the 1980s, this is the world as it was when I entered it. In particular there is still an East and West Germany, and Eastern Europe looks very different. A lot of the older names of countries in Africa and Asia are still noted, such as Ceylon. Seeing as I was the only one with any interest in an out-dated globe it came home with me. So really this globe is really mine now as a product of navel gazing...
Object Name: Gilt Silver Lamp Stand
Accessioned: March 2010
Notes: bought by my mother in a lot at an auction.
Comments: For many years my mother did quite a lot of flower arranging. To find interesting, and more unusual objects to incorporate into her arrangements, she used to go to local 'lot' auctions. In these kinds of auctions you buy an entire box, or a 'mixed lot'. As far as I know this lady emerged from such auction. I have always loved this lady, who adorned my mother's sideboard for many years. After expressing an interest in recent years in Art Nouveau it was decided that I would be the 'silver lady's' next rightful owner. So earlier this year, surrounded by old books and some childhood soft toys, she made her way to my house in a borrowed suit case.
She appears to be from the late 19th or early 20th century and she is stamped with the letters WMF EP. WMF is a German company, which still trades today. EP stands for electroplated. In her previous life she had a very industrious polisher for an owner as most of her silver had been rubbed off. You can see this in her now silvery 'highlights' around the features in her face, the folds of her dress and her toes. When I examined her, I remembered that as a child I polished her just as exuberantly. I realised this based on the amount of whitish polish that was deposited all over her. Over the course of a number of days, using a little warm water and mild soap I cleaned her from top-to-toe. I used ear buds and toothpicks to clean it out from from the leafy detail on her plinth.
She appears to have been a lamp originally, but she arrived to us sans lamp fixture. So that she was not holding her arms aloft needlessly, my mother found a candle that fits perfectly. Maybe someday I could find her a suitable glass lamp to hold, as I think she might be beyond being reinstated as a lamp. I might get her re-plated someday, although as someone interested in the history of objects, I do love the story her sparse silver tells.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Object Name: Star Trek Cuff links
Accessioned: October 2009
Notes: Given to me by my other half.
Comments: These were proudly presented to me last year. They were a triumph of a gift as not only am I huge Star Trek fan but I had recently succeeded in finding a ladies shirt for using cuff links. Sourcing a reasonably priced ladies shirt for wearing cuff links was a saga of almost epic proportions spanning most of a year. Successful in the end I am now the proud owner of two pairs but I think these are my favourite. Not only that they came in this very snazzy box. Although I wonder if this vignette tells you more about my reading patterns than my need to accessorise outside my gender...
This year for Halloween I think I may have to go Original Series full female science officer.
Object Name: Flower Press
Notes: Screw shut press for preserving flowers.
Comments: This flower press was in my house for as long as I can remember, I honestly don't know who exactly whom it belonged to. I have always loved gardening and flowers. I seem to have inherited this love from my mother, who in turn was introduced to gardening by her grandfather as a little girl. My mother used to do a lot of flower arranging with both fresh and dried flowers when I was growing up. So I grew up around flowers as a little cottage industry. It has all of those associations for me and the design of the Dog Rose on the front is beautiful in of itself. I can't remember the last time I actually pressed flowers in it, or what I would do them if I did! Do people press flowers any more? Or is it just fairies?
Object Name: Woolly Mammoth Worry Doll
Notes: Sent from Chicago in a box of wonders from a good friend.
Comments: For awhile I worked with a truly amazing group of people. The five of us all got along so well, and worked together very well. It was one of those work dynamics that you might only be lucky enough to have once or twice in your life. Last year one of our troupe headed off to the distant shores in the U.S.A. to live in Chicago. Early this year she sent us a 'box of wonders', mostly from the Field Museum in Chicago. We all got a little gift and mine was our little pipe-cleaner friend you see here. Seeing as I have been studying part time she sent me this little fellow to help me through the more stressful times.
The little blurb on the back says it all:
"Let the Field Museum's exclusive Woolly Mammoth Worry Doll trample your troubles away! ... With animals this big, your worries don't stand a chance!"
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Object Name: Handmade Fabric Frog
Accessioned: December 2007
Notes: Handmade for me by a very good friend as a Christmas present. I received this and some delicious homemade fudge.
Comments: This little frog has lived on my bookshelf, usually in the company of the choice few stuffed animals I still own. My friend of many years made it for me and he is made of toweling material. His cheerful smile and almost diving stance make him look both peaceful and busy at the same time. In Ireland there is only one type of frog, Rana temporaria. I think the only time I saw a live frog up close was when my cat caught one and proudly deposited it in our kitchen.
This little guy might one day get a little crown and then he can be a little frog prince.
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Object Name: Carved Wooden Elephants
Notes: Larger darker elephant is from Africa and my parents have owned it for years. The smaller one is from India and was bought for me during a trip to India in January 2010.
Comments: As far back as I can remember the larger elephant has been in the house. It came from Kenya, bought by a great uncle who worked there in the 1970s. I think I played with it a lot as a child, it has been drawn on, and has some chips missing from its feet. He also has a large part of one ear broken off. You can tell it's an African elephant as it has bigger ears. The little Indian elephant was bought for me while my brother was on a working trip to India. Looking as these two always makes me think of the book Elephants on Acid: And Other Bizarre Experiments (Harvest Original), and adds to my bemusement of the human condition...
Object Name: Agfa ISO-Rapid IF
Donor: from parent's house
Notes: Camera that may have been bought at a jumble sale. Takes a propietary film called ISO-PAN film, that was an early auto load camera from the 1960s.
Comments: My mother gave me this camera after cleaning out some cupboards during a spring clean. We don't know who this camera belonged to. She thinks maybe one of my siblings may have bought it at a charity shop or jumble sale as she doesn't remember anyone ever using it. It dates from the 1960s, and thus is a little old for my family to have used it when the specific film was available. It was a rival camera to the Kodak Instamatic. Unfortunately the mechanism for the flash bulb doesn't work anymore. I have a love for old cameras that has led me to collect them, especially ones that had a specific film made for them. These cameras will be featured in the posts to follow. So although this camera will probably never take another photograph it is a treasured object.
Friday, April 30, 2010
Object Name: Attenti ai Gatti Plaque
Notes: An Italian ceramic plaque "Beware of the Cats"
Comments: While holidaying in Italy my father bought me this very adapt plaque. As the proud owner of two black and white cats this serves an important role. A lot of effort went into making sure it stated the plural. I hope that I will always have the honour of sharing my life with cats. Somewhat reminiscent of Hugh Leonard, Rover and Other Cats.
Object Name: Wooden Tulips
Notes: Four wooden tulips from Holland
Comments: The first bouquet of fresh flowers bought for me ever came from the local Tesco. My reaction was so heart felt that the giver felt compelled to allow me to feel like that more often. When visiting Holland he bought me these flowers. When these flowers start to wilt he will buy me some more.
I now have some real tulips blossoming in my front garden. In a world where property and hedge fund bubbles burst and have left a lot of people aghast the idea of the 'Tulip Bubble' seems like it could have happened along with it. It is something that tickles me in a dark way, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and The Madness of Crowds.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Object Name: Coke Vanille Bottle
Accessioned: circa 1999
Notes: Canadian Coca Cola bottle filled with Irish pennies
Comments: The bottle of vanilla coke was brought back from Canada by my brother along with the usual assortment of sweets. At the time the new European wide currency was going to be launched in about 2 years. Due to a strange obsession with The Beatles and their song Penny Lane I decided to collect as many Irish pennies as a I could before they came out of circulation. I was also trying to find a penny from the year I was born, which I finally found. Over ten years later I am unsure what to do with this bottle and it's contents. It does make a damn good bookend. One has to wonder if this is a 'good' use of metal. Should this be handed back into the Irish Central Bank, cashed in for Euros and allowed to be recycled? Suggestions are always welcome.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Accessioned: January 2010
Notes: Translator: Emami, Karim. Publisher: Negar Publishers, Iran.
Comments: This book came into my life in a very round about way. A pair of my friends moved into an apartment in 2006. On the first day they moved in they found that the previous tenants had left behind a lot of books. Medical text books, and a skeleton. The previous occupants where a pair of Iranian medical students. They also left behind this book that is now counted amongst my books. It is a book of artworks by the Iranian artist Mahmoud Farshchian. It is full of beautiful, eastern, ornate images of people and nature. The book is over 50cm high and 36cm wide. The size of the book and the pearlised pages imbue me with a sense of awe that makes me fall in love with illustration all over again. My friend gave me this book for my birthday this year. I might treat myself to this soon: Selected Paintings of Mahmoud Farshchian.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
My first object from the museum that is my life is a fossil.
Object Name: Psiloceras planorbis
Accessioned: October 2009
Donor: purchased by curator
Notes: Lower Jurassic Ammonite: Psiloceras planorbis. Planorbis Zone, Lower Jurassic, Watchet, Nr. Minehead, North Somerset, UK. 200 million years old.
Comments: I purchased this fossil in a dedicated fossil shop in Whitby, Yorkshire, a well known fossil rich area of England. The town of Whitby exploits this reputation through shops, in it's museum and through fossil hunting trips that are organised weekly. I have to admit that when I bought this fossil I had no idea about the controversy surrounding the sale and commercial movement of fossils. The mining of fossils for the consumer market is something that much of the academic world of palaeontology would be against. Those who defend the trade would site historical figures such as Mary Anning who was a fossil seller from Lyme Regis. Anning found and sold on to academics some of the most remarkable fossils that shaped the world of palaeontology in the early nineteenth century, including the first described Ichthyosaurus and Plesiosaurus.
It is an issue that has a lot of grey areas and no clear answers but all I know is I will not be buying any more fossils.
If you are interested in the history of fossil hunting, trade and the beginnings of this science I highly recommend this book: The Dragon Seekers: The Discovery of Dinosaurs Before Darwin