Category Archives: Family

Artist Tom Thomson Family Link

Recent local travels took me to the village of Leith, near Owen Sound, Ontario.  I was thrilled to visit for two reasons – personal interest of local artists and family connections.

  1. World-famous Canadian artist Tom Thomson, my particular favourite, connected to Group of Seven had roots in the village of Leith, Ontario, Canada.
  2. My paternal Great-Grandfather Bertram Henry Symes (1976-1918) who died at the end of WWI is buried in Leith, Scotland.

The visit, however uncovered some interesting facts and local folklore!

The tiny church – Leith Church, erected 1865, closed 1969, Church of Scotland – United Church of Canada.  As the memorial plaque states right in the churchyard there is a grave for my favourite Canadian artist… Tom Thompson.

A few years ago, our family took a trip to Canoe Lake, and rowed to various memorial points there….. I had always thought he was buried at Canoe Lake.

However, local Leith village folklore tells us differently. We heard from family members from farms neighbouring the Thompson farm, that when Tom’s coffin was returned to the village, it was opened and several locals confirmed he was inside!

Tom Thomson Art Gallary Biography states…..

“…… Thomson was initially buried in a small cemetery up the hill from Mowat Lodge, overlooking Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park. But at the request of his family, the body was re-interred in the family plot beside Leith United Church.”

It’s a mystery and part of a local folklore.

I was thrilled to notice that among the graves in the churchyard were many marked for the McKeen family, including one for Isabella Thompson Ross, (1827-1917) who originally came to Canada from Leith in Scotland.

By chance my Great-Grandfather Bertram Henry Symes (1976-1918), who died in the Leith American Hospital, near Edinburgh, Scotland, while trying to return home at the end of WWI. He is buried in a communal grave, a sad end to his many years serving in the British Royal Navy, and WWI. He joined the Navy in January 1899 as a carpenter’s mate, he was a ships diver until 1906 and went on to become a Chief Shipwright after getting the bends.

Artwork and reference information about Tom Thompson can be found at:

Tom Tompson Art Gallery

McMichael Art Gallery

Leith Church

Treasured Collections helps local people, groups and businesses document the history behind their artifacts.  Follow this blog for interesting historical snippets…..

 

 

Daily “Tot” – Pusser’s Rum (1640-1970)

What’s this all about… a daily “tot” issued to Royal Navy Sailors for more than 330 years?

Treasured Collections is proud to share a story of all things nautical – sailing, yacht racing, RN, traditions, and more! Capturing the story behind a family artifact is fun and yet important to record known information, knowledge and past experience to share with future generations.

British Navy Pusser’s Rum (R) is the Single Malt of Rum that was issued daily on board ships of Great Britain’s Royal Navy for more than 330 years.  From about 1640 until 31 July 1970, a daily rational of rum was issued to sailors on board ship. Known as the “tot” it became the longest unbroken tradition of the history of the sea.

Being from a family with long traditions with the British Royal Navy, I was very aware of “Pusser’s Rum”. Imagine my surprise when in the local LCBO (our Canadian liquor store), I spied this wonderful decanter of Pusser’s Navy Rum!  Evidently with the Admiralty’s blessing this rum became available to the consumer! The Royal Navy Sailor’s Fund, a naval charity, more commonly called the “Tot Fund” benefits from the sales.

This particular ceramic decanter celebrates the magnificent sport of yachting and sailboat racing. The three images include

  1. The Schooner America August 1851 when she won the Hundred Guinea Cup (which later became the America’s Cup),
  2. Jolie Brise, a 56-foot pilot cutter winner of the first Fastnet Race in 1925, Jolie Brise is still sailing today and went on to win the 2000 Tall Ships Race Overall.
  3. A tiny sloop Spray, which wailed around the world single-handed by Captain Joshua Slocum , leaving Boston April 1895, he returned to Rhode Island June 1898.

For me, being from Portsmouth, Hampshire the home of HMS Victory, flagship of Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson…. it was also fun to see the  the slogan “Nelson’s Blood”.

By chance, to add to the fun…. a Portsmouth area chocolate company offer Pusser’s Rum Truffles… neat!

You can see more about Pusser’s Rum and the traditions on their website or just do a Google search!

Treasured Artifacts – Edwardian Repoussé Silver Box – Capture The Story!

I love my job! What a pleasure it is to work with the wonderful treasured collections of my clients…. this silver box, for instance!

It is an exquisite 3″ Edwardian sterling silver trinket box, with a Repoussé forest design, made by Haseler Brothers, Chester, England, circa 1905.

This is one of two special items this client gave me the opportunity to work with. From the start she strongly felt, “There is no information to be collected!” and yet after a very short time, she was thrilled with the amount of information I was able to discover – to explain:

The box was given to my client by her mother, the only information available was an auctioneer’s note which detailed a value and an accurate date.

She wondered whether this might be a stamp box.  Her Grandfather had moved to London from Ireland and ran a Post Office.

As in most cases the maker’s mark can tell us lots of information….

The maker’s stamp is made up of four images on the side, and two on the lid.

  1. Silversmith’s mark – EJH NH in shield.
  2. Lion – standard lion indicates sterling silver .925 weight.
  3. The three wheat sheaves in a shield – Chester City 1701-1925.
  4. E in this style – used in 1905

The initials E J H and N H indicate the names of the silversmiths who made this Edwardian box. These initials represent the Haseler Brothers, Edward John Haseler and Noble Haseler.

The company was originally founded by William Hair Haseler in Birmingham in 1848. The business was located in Branston Street, Birmingham. This particular item was registered at the Chester Assay Office in 1905.

It is noted that a London office was opened in 1876 and in 1901 the company went into partnership with Liberty of London for the manufacture of the well-known Cymric range of silverware.  In 1946 the company became Haseler & Restall.

The textured image seen on the top of the box is known as Repoussé – hammered metalwork into relieve from the reverse side. The forest scene includes wild boar and their young.

Now we know a good deal about the box, we expanded the search into family members.  My client had large framed photographs on the wall of her Grandparents, and her maternal Great Grandmother.

A 1911 census search gave us clues for dates and family information. The package complete giving context to this wonderful artifact to ensure it is passed along down the family. The final project was produced on paper for my client and a computer version emailed to family members.

Although we couldn’t define who had bought this item, or who in the family had owned it….. we have discovered its date, maker and origin.

Amazed at the results, my client was thrilled with her package – for me it was pure joy to work with such a wonderful artifact!

If you would like to discover more information about your family heirlooms… Treasured Collections can help!

Seeking Descendants of Justin / Early Family Toronto/Streetsville Area

The Justin House, circa 1980

I was thrilled to see a fairly local historic home on a worldwide Vintage Group I belong to on FaceBook. The Justin House was located 7523 Winston Churchill Blvd. Conc 6, (WHS) West of Hurontario Street, Lot 13, (Streetsville identifier MC0688) built in 1827, the property was formerly listed on the Heritage Inventory but demolished in 1997.

Posted by Sean from St. Clair Township..  who is interested to locate family descendants as documents and images relating to the family. Let me know if you are connected to this family.

“The following description of the house is from a report, dated September 11, 1990, from R. G. B. Edmunds, Commissioner of Planning and Building, to the Chairman and members of the LACAC. “The house, known as the Justin House, was featured in the 1877 Illustrated Historical Atlas of Peel County, and was probably built in the late 1850s or early 1860s. The original owner of the property was Martin Justin, Sr., who was born in Queen’s County, Ireland, in 1790. He applied for a land grant in 1819 for the W 1/2 of Lot 13, and W 1/2 or Lot 12, Conc. 6, Toronto Township, a total of 200 acres. However, he died intestate before the land claims were finalized and was survived by his wife Eliza, and two sons. Both Eliza and the eldest son, William, applied to gain title to the land. In 1846, William Justin won legal title to both lots and sold the W 1/2 Lot 13, Conc. 6, to his brother, Martin, Jr., for £600 sterling.

Drawing taken from the 1877 Historical Atlas of Peel County

 

William Justin became the Magistrate of Streetsville and an upstanding member of the community.”  At the time the photo was taken (1980) the property was owned by Lisgar Twin Service and later (1990) by Entas Developments, who had made a proposal to develop the site for purposes of high-density office/commercial use. Edmunds’ report recommended that the property be designated historical, but it was demolished in 1997. Description as of December 2010.  Thanks to Jane McCormack for providing this wonderful photo.”

More recent findings are offered by Canadiana Room at Mississauga Central Library

“In Ancestry Martin James Justin notes he was married twice … first to Mary Ann Switzer by whom he had a son, but both mother and son died shortly afterwards. Martin remarried to Mary Elizabeth Cowan, and according to a tree on Ancestry, had a son who died unmarried at 18 and two daughters.  One daughter married a Frederick Early, according to the Ancestry tree, and they had two sons but as they were born in 1905 and 1907.”

Capturing Your Local Business Footprint!

Celebrating The Evening News (Portsmouth), Centenary (1877-1977)

Artifact: First Day Cover, 27 April 1977, featuring William Caxton (1476) stamps, from the collection of Mrs George of Portchester.

This blog entry refers to the local newspaper in my ‘old’ home-town, but the essence of the message is the same, wherever you are!

Marking and celebrating significant milestone anniversaries of your local business, collecting and sharing memorabilia from that event… helps plant the footprint of the business through time.

With social media advancing, and less paper promotional literature, it will become more relevant as time goes forward.

How to do this? Start an archive folder/box now!  Place in it, early business cards, letter head, literature and promotional artifacts… pens, give-aways etc. Add to the box each time your logo changes and you’ll have a ready-made running history for your business!

The Evening News (Portsmouth), Centenary (1877-1977)

The News was founded, as The Evening News, on April 27, 1877. It was launched from a former butcher’s shop at 1 Arundel Street, Landport, Portsmouth. Produced on four broadsheet pages, at the rate of 2000 copies an hour on a hand-fed press which was housed in an erstwhile slaughterhouse.  The selling price was halfpenny! The Run and managed by its founder, Mr J G Niven, who is reputed to be shown driving the dog cart in the illustration.

Another historical snippet from this story is the fact that just six months earlier than this centenary, the 500th anniversary of printing was introduced to England by William Caxton! The stamps on the First Day Cover celebration this 1476 fact!

Take a moment, and gather your artifact collection!  If you don’t know where to start, or need help. Let me know!

With plenty of experience I’ve shared my museum-gained skills with local libraries,  chamber of commerce, non-profit organizations and area businesses!

Women’s Land Army – Post WWII

Above: Joyce Bake with her gang and two cleaners. Joyce sat on van bonnet  at Brackley Hostel. 1947/48.

This post is created to share photographs belonging to Joyce Bake. They are dated and most identified with the location. Intended to assist with research for family members of those who served with W.L.A. If these images are useful, you are welcome to copy and share.

Joyce Bake (1925-1999) served during WWII with the Women’s Royal Air Force.  Wanting to learn to drive, she worked with the Women’s Land Army (WLA) from 1946-1948. She always recalled this era of her life as the most fun! Hard work and hard-play.

Among her documents are letters addressed from the Agricultural Executive Committee, the County of Northampton, that note that Miss J Bake was employed by the Committee 8 October 1946 until 9 October 1948, in the capacity of Forewoman at the Brackley W.L.A. Hostel.

Artifact: W.L.A. Armband – Joyce Bake.

Above: Joyce and her van. Noted as N.W.A.E.C. at Brackley hostel 1946/47.

Below left: Joyce with head scarf, Brackley, 1948.

Below right: More of the gang, Brackley Hostel.

 

Below: Joyce wearing a suit, front left. No further notes on the photograph.

Below left: Joyce and her best pal Margaret Oakie, at Brackley Hostel. Woman’s Land Army Forewoman 1946-1948.

Below right:  May 1944, Glamorgan. Paddy and friends at family farm. Threshing group.

  

Below left: Joyce’s friends Sheila and Glad at Brackley  1947.

Below right: Joyce Bake in centre, small image, noted as Kislingbury Hostel, N’Hants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vintage Dolls

Researching maker’s marks on artifacts is my thing!

With a little perseverance I recently identified a doll that had no brand stamp.  It is a German-made Kammer and Reindhardt bisque doll.  There is sometimes a curve ball in the research, as the head molds were often used by other companies and look-a-like copies were produced.

I looked into the background my two dolls. Luckily they both have brand marks, patent numbers, plus country of origin. These marks are found on the dolls back, and back of the head.

This “Rosebud” doll was bought in the mid-1950s. It is a hard-plastic doll (head and body) made by Nene Plastics Ltd, England, a company that started in 1947 and run by Eric Smith. It was Smith who registered the name “Rosebud”, by 1955 they had started experimenting with vinyl (softer plastic). In the 1960s the company was sold to Matte, dolls made in America are marked with “Rosebud Mattel”.

My second doll was given to my around 1960. This was a Palitoy Patsy Chubby Baby doll, made in England. It has a patent number registered in Britain, Australia and Canada. The head has a different number to the body.  The doll is 15 inches tall, hard plastic head, soft vinyl body, rotating legs and arms. She drinks, cries real tears, and wets her nappy. The head has molded hair, hand-painted lower lashes and eyebrows, rolling eyes with lashes. There are no join seams visible on arms and legs.

Palitoy has an interesting history. Originally Palitoy Cascelloid Company started by Alfred Edward Pallet of Coalville Leicestershire in 1919, made their first doll in 1925.

Palitoy was bought by Chad Valley toys, then General Mills who also scooped up Airfix toys, Meccano and Tri-ang – all familiar toy brands throughout my childhood. The final owners were Tonka, then Hasbo. A fun fact – The British boy doll Palitoy Action Man celebrated it’s 50th birthday in 2016!

My aunt also has a childhood doll.  Among our family photographs I found a picture of her with a doll. Although the doll’s face was similar, she confirmed the doll in the picture was donated to her by a neighbour.

In the post-WWII years there were few luxury goods or toys available. In the past, we have compared notes and discovered that my first teddy, was also her first teddy! (a rather sad, hard pink thing stuffed with straw).

On a brighter in the mid 1950s her Mum (my Nanna) bought her a  brand new state-of-the-art “Patsy” doll that could be fed, cried real tears and we its nappy. The doll has a the same patent numbers as my doll, it is slightly earlier. It has the same hard plastic head, made in two parts, but vinyl limbs are also made in two parts,  join seams are clearly visible.

She recalls thinking she was a little old for such a gift, but we figure her Mum felt she deserved a nice ‘new’ toy.

Is there a vintage doll in your family?  What is its story?

When you have noted down who owned it, where they lived and when, take a moment to research the brand name and the maker!

Tins, Boxes and Ad Hoc Containers

If you are the keeper of a craft box, needlework, or tool box, you might be surprised to find a family memory item among your oddments. Pins, hooks, beads, nails and screws are often kept in small containers from your past.

On a FaceBook group recently there was much discussion about tobacco tins, Coronation memorial tins and more.  I enjoyed viewing the images which each provoked memories of days gone by.

While sorting some sewing items, I came across this gold hinged tin, containing ceramic, glass and wooden beads from my macramé days in the 1970s.  It measures 3 1/2 inches in length.

It is a gold plated cigarette case from the 1960s that belonged to my Mother.  Now, a little worse for wear from use, it is tarnished and dented. I was, however thrilled to discover a maker’s mark stamped inside the closing clip:

“Made in England by KIGU.”

An Internet search bought forth a little history of the maker.

Ruby Lane Antiques offers… “KIGU was one of the two British compact premier brands (Stratton being the other). The London business was established in 1939 by a man who was the son and grandson of compact makers in Budapest. KIGU quickly gained a reputation for quality and innovative design. In 1949, members of the Royal family were known to carry KIGU compacts.”

Whereas The Vintage Compact Shop mentions… “The makers described the case as follows ‘The ripple of the silvery engine turned background gleams through the opalescent enamel in the delicate shades of blue, pink or white.  (Some are decorated with flower or dolphin enamel motifs.’

….  this range was also described by the manufacturer as ‘modern in conception, is delicately curved and fits snugly into the palm of one’s hand…………….handy in size yet holds 12 full-size cigarettes.’  In the 1960s cigarettes were smaller than they are today and this case is ideal for roll ups or cigarettes or small items of jewellery like earrings, necklaces or slender business cards.”

Vintage Collectables Org. UK suggests….. “Kigu of London is most famously known for its powder compacts. Josef Kiaschek created the very first powder company in his workshop in Budapest, Hungary. He was a master goldsmith. His son named Gustab founded Kigu in Budapest. The name Kigu was derived from the first two letters of his surname and christian name. Kigu were renowned for their high quality in design, innovation and their product during the boom years of Powder Compacts.”

So, who knew?  and what to do next…. ? Add the photographs of the folder of family artifacts, tagged with date, maker and owner. Then return the beads, and pop it back into the craft box for another day of reminiscing!

Capture the Footprint of Local History

Sometimes an old calendar, ball-point pen, business card or booklet can be the only remaining evidence of a local business.

Local business are often the hub of a community, employers, where people work and shop. Help to capture the footprint of the history for your local area by saving, or sharing with local historical institutions, items that might be significant.

Victory Brushes, John Palmers Ltd., Portsmouth, Hampshire, England.

This 14-page booklet was collected and saved with papers by a lady who worked as Personnel Officer at John Palmers, Victory Brushes during the mid to late 1960s. This leaflet was produced for their employees…. the back page states “The quality of Victory Brand Brushes is your responsibility.”

The booklet tells a general through-the-years story about how brushes were made and the materials used, but it also gives a history of the company since its beginnings in 1869 to 1947. It is a treasure for the local business history and area archives.

John Palmers flooring and carpets firms are still in business today, albeit not in Portsmouth. Over the years they occupied various buildings in the Fratton area of Portsmouth City. They also owned a small row of flat-fronted terraced houses in Nancy Road for their workers.

It seems the original premises were a 3-storey plus basement house.
This is a business that grew and became a significant employer in the Portsmouth area.

“Around 1975, I worked as a temporary secretary to one of John Palmer’s sons for a while, Raymond or Stanley!”

The history 1869-1947, as told by Mr John Palmer Junior, son of the John Palmer who started the business.

 

 

 

 

 

The Trade Mark logo for Victory Brushes Brand is of course a line drawing of the Portsmouth-based H.M.S. Victory.

A memory story found online…. Portsmouth tales

Do you have any artefacts or stories to tell about working at John Palmers?

Challenge….. What is it?

When you discover something interesting in a box of unrelated items… this can be a challenge.

What is it?

Measuring 10 1/2″ long (27 cms), it is made of an early celluloid plastic.  A tubular shape with no seams, at the wider end it measures 1/2″, with a wide hole, tapering to a narrow end which is flattened to an oval, with a very small hole.

This item is not an opaque material like Bakelite, but slightly translucent with a red/brown colour hue. There is no maker’s mark. Some slight scratches from use.

It turns out that this item is a cigarette holder that belonged to my paternal grandmother, Irene (Symes) George (1903-1996).

Before cigarette tips were introduced in the 1960s, using a holder, was thought to have filtered the smoke. Wikipedia suggests… “A holder kept tobacco flakes out of the smoker’s mouth, kept the thin cigarette paper from sticking and tearing on the smoker’s lips, prevented nicotine stains on fingers, cooled and mellowed the smoke and kept side-stream smoke from stinging the smoker’s eyes.

As with evening gloves, ladies’ cigarette holders are measured by four traditional formal standard lengths:

  • opera length, usually 16 to 20 inches/40 to 50 cm
  • theatre length, 10 to 14 inches/25 to 35 cm
  • dinner length, 4 to 6 inches/10 to 15 cm
  • cocktail length, which includes shorter holders

Traditionally, men’s cigarette holders were no more than 4 inches long.”

Used from 1910s through until late 1970s, cigarette holders were particularly popular fashion accessories during the 1920s – the days of the flapper dress, bobbed hair cuts and elegant styles.