Wrap & Pack Your Family Heirlooms

If you are the designated keeper of your family’s heirlooms, you may wish to gather some knowledge on how best to store them. I feel it is our job to conserve items in the condition they are in, and to help prevent any further deterioration. The overall aim is to keep items from being destroyed by the environment, or by each other. This subject can be technical and complicated, so I’ll try to keep things simple!

Unwrapped items can be affected by moth, bugs, damp, mould. Placing items directly against wooden drawers can also be harmful.

A simple list of what NOT to do might include: avoid damp basements and barns, avoid wrapping items in newspaper or coloured papers, avoid sticky tape, don’t encapsulate, avoid sunlight….. and more.

During my time as Collections Manager at the museum we turned to the Canadian Conservation Institute for guidance. Their scientist and specialists produce a useful set of CCI Notes which described how best to store, clean and care for your artifacts (to museum standards). The wording can be a little technical, but some useful links might be:

Often the best advice is to make acid free covers and boxes, but sourcing the supplies to do this as a private individual can be expensive. For instance minimum orders of 20 point library card, rolls of Mylar or tissue can cost up to $1000. Here I am sharing some affordable items I found locally:

Cotton gloves – Shopper’s Drug Mart (medical) – $2.50

PH Testing Pens – Lines N’ Curves or Brodart (online) – $8

Acid Free Glassine (strong tissue for wrapping and inter-leafing) – Lines N’ Curves (online) packet 100, 16″ x 20″ – $35

Acid Neutral Library Board (strong wrapping card/paper for covers and boxing books) – Michael’s Art Store, Strathmore Artist Papers, Bristol Sheet 500 series, buffered has no ground wood or unbleached pulp, limits of metallic content, free from optical brighteners, a suitable substitute – $5

Mylar safe inert plastic map sheets – Carr McLean (online) for non-sticky encapsulation/protective covers, packet of 5 – $50

Coated Storage Boxes – protective banker’s boxes with lids – Carr McLean (online) – $25 each

Textiles may be store flat in clean white cotton pillow cases. Hanging items can be covered with a clean white cotton sheet. Avoid wrapping in plastic.

Here’s a start…. I’ll go into more detail in the next few posts!

Look A Little Closer….

harmonica-p-c-george-1938

There are many ways to find out the age of your family artifacts.  Photographs and documents are often dated, many have name references too.

Objects are a little different.  On occasion you might be aware who had owned an item, and possibly where they got it from. Sometimes items have a date on them, such as this souvenir spoon from the 1967 International and Universal Exposition, the “Expo ’76” World Fair, held in Montreal.

montreal-1967-spoon

A stamped, or printed mark on the object by the maker can help you research the age of an item. You can discover how long was the maker’s business was in operation, and possibly view catalogues to identify the specific design.

The internet can lead you to lists of companies and dates, for lots of types of objects – ceramics, metal, wooden, glass.

Hallmarks on gold and silver are particularly interesting. If an item was British-made, a precise date can be discovered including the maker and the place.

This Echo-Luxe harmonica was made by M. Hohner, Germany. It was in my brother’s china cabinet for many years.  Now it has come into my possession.  The only thing I knew about it, was that it had belonged to my father – Peter Colin George (1926-2008).

Research tells me that Matth. Hohner AG is the oldest and largest producer of harmonicas in the world.  Based in Trossingen, Baden-Württemberg the company was founded in 1857 by Matthias Hohner (1833-1902). In the 1920s the chromatic harmonica was introduced and production of harmonicas hit 20 million.

So, how to pin down the date of this very popular, well-used harmonica which is still in its original box?

Look a little closer……

Within the box lid, handwritten in a pencil …. “Form 2B, P. George”. This identifies the harmonica as pre-WWII, circa 1938. It was used by my father while attending senior school –  Portsmouth Grammar for Boys (founded in 1732)!

harmonica-lid-p-c-george-1938

 

 

Identify Your Treasured Collections – Medals

Military Medal Named Boxes

If you are lucky enough to be the keeper of precious family artifacts, why not take a moment to clarify who they belonged to?

I am easily able to identify my two sets of family military medals (Royal Navy).  I have a keen interest in both family history and historical artifacts.

But to save these memories and pass them along to future generations, the information has to be clear.

The miniature medal set belonged to my Grandfather Harry Michael George (1899-1961) who joined the Royal Navy at age 15. He became an ERA (Engine Room Artificer), retiring from the Navy as a Chief ERA 2nd Class. His medal set consists of : WWI – British War Medal, and Victory Medal. Long Service Good Conduct Medal 1933, and WWII – Defence Medal and Second World War Medal.

The full size medals belonged to my father Peter Colin George (1925-2008) the son of H Michael George. He also joined the Royal Navy as a boy. Retiring after his fifth-five as Chief Petty Officer, Engineer, RN Fleet Air Arm. (He worked on planes on air craft carriers).  His medals include: Defence Medal (1939-1945), WWII Medal (1939-1945), and Long Service Good Conduct Medal.

Each medal set, is housed in a box and marked with the name of their owner.  I chose to buy the boxes in the UK during a trip, to have the Royal Coat of Arms emblem included.

In the past, military tailors such as Gieves & Hawkes, in Queen Street, Portsmouth would provide these boxes. Alas, no longer, the company still specializes in military uniforms, in Savile Row, London, but no store remains in Portsmouth.

I sourced these boxes via… Worcestershire Medal Services.

medal-boxes-b

Take a moment to identify your family artifacts!

Shared Knowledge in Priceless

Pin - Tillsonburg

Taking the time to network with colleagues in your field can bring forth an abundance of valuable knowledge.

We are all experts in our field, to a point.  We rely on years of training and practice at what we do, however we cannot ever expect to have a complete set of tools.

Glass specialists, military specialists, appraisers, art experts, antique dealers and enthusiasts all bring something to the table for the museum professional.

We should be encouraged to ask questions of our colleagues in other or the same profession as ourselves. Between us we likely have the whole picture if we pool our knowledge.

Recently on the Ontario Museum ListServe email circulation, I saw answers of a question come from different people, that gradually build the picture.

Annandale National Historic Site at Tillsonburg shared this pin, and wanted to know what the PM stood for. They had knowledge that the lady who owned it was part of the IODE in the early the 1950s.

The knowledge network them jumped into play, when a colleague on the network stated:

“The cross, anchor and heart symbol on your pin would indicate that it would be associated with the Ladies Orange Benevolent Association, or LOBA, and therefore connected to the local branch of the Orange Order.”

and another,

“The PM typically indicates that this is a Past Masters or Past Mistress Jewel.”

More information has come to light…. kindly posted by Forrest D. Pass, PhD, Exhibition Development and Research Officer, Ottawa. This brings together the previous ideas, and confirms the pin is an LOBA pin for a Past Mistress.

“I’ve pasted below a page from the Orange Family Regalia Catalogue, issued by Dominion Regalia Ltd. of Toronto about 1958 (the copy I have scanned is from the Roxborough Loyal Orange Lodge #623 fonds at the Archives of Ontario). You’ll see that your jewel is No. 227 at the top centre. According to the accompanying price list, it sold in 1958 for $13 in gold-plated sterling, or $26.75 in 10K gold, a little less than the #229 and #669 next to it; engraving was an additional eight cents per letter.”

loba-pin-past-mistress

We each carry memories of the items we have processed and worked on, plus the research we have discovered….. but together with combined shared knowledge, we can be all the more successful.

Group Support for PastPerfect Users

Join our PastPerfect User Group community!

pastperfectforum

We are a group of Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Societies all using the museum software – PastPerfect.  Most of us are located in Southern Ontario, with some further a field.

For a decade we have met to exchange ideas and experiences using PastPerfect.  The benefits of this exchange are enormous…..

PastPerfect is a comprehensive museum software which comes with a great deal of training opportunities, online, classes (note in Canada), CDs and knowledge-based videos and more.  Building on  this training, our group offers the added benefit of meeting in person to discuss and exchange exchange ideas and experiences with a particular emphasis on the Canadian environment.

New-comers to the group tend ask similar questions. We have started a Technical PastPerfect Forum, so they can search on our previous discussions. All our users can ask questions, get advice and exchange ideas.

If you use PastPerfect – you may join our Forum.  Be sure to identify yourself, your location, and your museum.

Register – Login – Update your Preferences and User Control Panel – Add the group members as your friends….

Whether you join our twice-yearly meetings-in-person or not,  you will be able to connect with other users, get answers to your questions, and search on past minutes. Welcome!

(The Forum is run by Alison Hird, Trainer and Consultant with Treasured Collections.  Any questions drop me an email)

Vintage Bus Ticket Technology Provokes Fond Memories

Intriguing technology from the past – provokes fond memories!

Almex Bus Ticket Dispenser
Almex Bus Ticket Dispenser

As you entered the bus the bus driver would take your fare and print your ticket, as some still do today.  These early ticket dispensing models were mechanical, with dials to print different fares.

I recall however, in earlier times, the driver just drove the bus and there was also a ‘bus conductor’ who rode on the bus with the passengers. He would moved around the bus, upstairs and down, sell and dispense tickets, inspect and clip tickets to show they were used. The bus conductor wore crossed leather straps, with a money bag on one side and a ticket dispenser on the other. He also had a hand-held clipping devise. To us he was fondly known as the “Clipper” or “Clippy”.

Of course staple to my home towns of Portchester and Portsmouth in Hampshire, we had the fun of riding on a double-decker bus. The red buses were Corporation buses, and Green were from a private-run company Southdown Motors.

My first memories of the double-deckers, were “trolley” buses, driven by overhead cables. The trolley buses of which there were 100 or so, ran on nine routes across the City and its outskirts.  Trolley buses ceased operation in July 1963.  The predecessor to the trolley bus was the tram system, run on ground rails. That system closed in 1936.

So, more about the technology of printing bus tickets onto plain paper…. on the go!

The Setright was a mechanical ticket dispenser invented by Australian Henry Roy Setright and patented in 1922, made in the London by Setright Registers Ltd.

Setright Bus Ticket Dispenser, Boxed
Setright Bus Ticket Dispenser, Boxed

The Almex is a Type A. This mechanical ticket machine was created by A B Almex of Sweden, launched in the late 1940s.  These were still in use up to the 1980s.

Almex Bus Ticket Dispenser, Boxed with Blank Paper Ticket Roll
Almex Bus Ticket Dispenser, Boxed with Blank Paper Ticket Roll

These images were shared in a recent post on a group page of history buffs from my home-town!  (Shared here with permission). Seeing the images bought back a swarm of fond memories.

I find it is the quirky, everyday or unusual items that provoke the best stories! Do you agree?

What to avoid using in your antique vase!

When re-arranging some dried flowers, I discovered an issue.  Florist putty used to hold the flower in place had become old and extremely sticky. Once carefully removed (some residue oil still remains), I researched the vase that was once of my Nanna’s favourite.

Constance Spy Mantle Vase Fulham Pottery, London circa 1940
Constance Spy Mantle Vase Fulham Pottery, London circa 1940

Passed to me by my paternal grandmother Irene Evelin (Symes) George (1903-1996) it’s warm cream colour, low profile and elongated shape makes it perfect to create unusual flower arrangements.

Made by The Pottery, Fulham, London, originally founded by John Dwight in 1672. The Pottery, famous for Salt Glazes Stoneware was located at the junction of Kings and Burlington Roads in Fulham in the London Borough of Putney.

A cute paper label with my Grandmother’s handwriting allocated it to me. I have sentimentally left it in place.

Maker's stamp, The Pottery, Fulham, Made in England. FMC.
Maker’s stamp, The Pottery, Fulham, Made in England. FMC.

Research from the stamp and cream coloured glaze leads me to understand that this item is a Constance Spy Art Deco vase designed in the 1930s. Noted as Spry Fulham Pottery Vase (R/0117/ET / LA52215) it was likely made in the 1940s.  The maker’s initials inscribed are FMC.

The frog appears to be the original, the metal is in tact but the centre rubber piece has become hard and brittle.

Flower Frog 1940s

So, although we encourage everyone to use and enjoy their family heirlooms, may I share a little advice of what NOT to use in your special antique vases… avoid florist putty!

 

PastPerfect Handy Hints – Watermarks on Images

Many of us are too busy in our daily work using PastPerfect, to notice some of the wonderful special features that it brings, that as yet,  we haven’t discovered!

Recently I saw a posting about using Watermarks on PastPerfect Images.  This is useful when posting your collection online, or providing images for external use.

Creating a watermark is fairly intuitive – within a catalogue, once in image management you will notice the selection on the right hand side.  Be warned, once a watermark is applied, it is permanent and cannot be undone.

ppwatermark1

Select Watermark

ppwatermark2

Create your Museum’s Watermark, grey or white, select the position.

ppwatermark3

Similarly, you can add your Accession Number or Catalogue ID onto the photograph.  This is particularly useful if someone returns to the museum with an image given to them in the past, or for use in publications.

ppcataloguenumber

There are likely many different handy hints to be discovered.  Let me me if you have discovered something that may be beneficial to others….

PastPerfect Handy Hints – Custom F Keys

Have you discovered the short-cut using  F Keys or Function Keys on your keyboard?  If you are working on a sizeable project, or complete data entry for a recurring subject…. see how you can speed up your data entry.

To customize you F Keys select: Setup, Function Keys

You will see:

F8 has a ‘coded’ date.  Select F8 within your data entry Today’s date will appear.

F7 is reserved for use with Authority Files – to access your authority files you can use Right Click on your Mouse or F7.

The remainder are available for you to use. Simply type the phrase you need – F6 Smith & Company Ltd, or F7John (Smith) Jones (1844-1902), etc. Click on the F keys within your data entry and the phrase will appear.  Once your Smith project is complete, simply enter phrases for your next large project.

Setting up Function Keys for use with PastPerfect
Setting up Function Keys for use with PastPerfect

Function keys are individual to you and your sign-in.

Alison Hird provides free-lance consultant support for organizations in Southern Ontario who use PastPerfect.

What other short-cuts or handy-hints would you like to see?  Email Alison with your request.

Museum Software producers of PastPerfect shared the following video  U-tube.

 

 

A Gift For Seniors…

Are you stuck for ideas on what to buy parents and grandparents for Christmas…. then read on!

Seniors have collected and gathered wonderful items throughout their lives. Now they are surrounded by many precious items. They often say, “I don’t need anything!”  They have have all the ‘things’ they need.

However, among their collection, are likely a few very special items that have been passed down the family – family heirlooms. A vase and brooch that were Great Grandmother’s,  a quilt that she made. Military artifacts that belonged to Great, Grandfather etc.

Why not give a gift of having these few special items photographed and their stories gathered and ‘provenance’ documented.  The resulting booklet can be shared with grandchildren, can be in digital format or printed on paper.

If this is something you would like to arrange for your loved one. Contact met today. alison@treasurecollections.ca

WWII Woman's Land Army Arm Band
Documented – WWII Woman’s Land Army Arm Band