Category Archives: Museums

Ordinary People – Leading the Way!

First Class Shipwright B H Symes, Diver, Seated on Left.

Among some recent military projects, I have seen three examples outstanding bravery and pioneering spirit…. ordinary people – leading the way!

Bertram Henry Symes (1876-1914) joined the British Royal Navy in January 1899. He trained as a shipwright, eventually becoming Chief Shipwright in 1918. What is most remarkable about his career, however, is the fact that he became a Ships Artificer Diver in March 1906. He continued to dive until May 1915, when he was noted as medically unfit to dive, after he got the bends.  Shipwright First Class Symes, was adventurous, although he was not the first to become a ship’s diver, this was certainly early days of deep sea diving, with many unknown factors, and basic equipment.

H.M.S. Ocean leaving Glasgow, 1948.

H.M.S. Ocean was built at the Alexander Stephen and Sons yard on the Clyde, Glasgow, Scotland. The ship was launched in 1944 and commissioned 8 August 1945. Classed as a light fleet carrier was 630 feet long and had a crew of 1,050 sailors and could carry 52 aircraft.

We normally associate naval seamen as ship’s personnel. Peter Colin George (1926-2008) however, joined the British Royal Navy, Fleet Air Arm Division around 1945.  He trained as an aircraft engineer, eventually becoming Chief Petty Officer overseeing engine and aircraft repairs. His training took place at H.M.S. St. James, Douglas, Isle of Man, then at the air craft handling unit R.N.A.S. Worthy Down, also known as H.M.S. Kestrel.

Landing jet planes on a moving ship (later known as an aircraft carrier) was a fairly new concept. He was at the forefront of industry as an aircraft engineer in the Royal Navy.

https://www.thisdayinaviation.com/tag/hms-ocean-r68/ describes the first test flight, take off and landing of a jet-powered aircraft from a ship which carrier took place 3rd December 1945, from HMS Ocean (R68). The aircraft was a de Havilland DH.100 Sea Vampire Mk 10 LZ551/G. An example of this aircraft was held at the Fleet Air Arm Museum, Yeovilton, Somerset.

Towards the end of his days in the Navy, he worked at the Fleet Air Arm Museum.

Source: Ipswich Star – Button Boy

Finally, not quite so pioneering, but just as brave. One recent project described how a young boy-sailor took up the role of ‘Button Boy’ in the Royal Navy. He was noted as the ‘second’ a stand-in for the lead boy, but he still had to become accomplished and demonstrate his skill for this activity.

Each R.N. training facility sports, a land-based mast, and H.M.S. Ganges is no different. There is a long-standing tradition of young trainees ascending the 143 ft mast, a performance that takes place to music. The ‘button boy’ is the man at the top.  He has to shimmy up the last stretch of the pole, climb over the lightening rod, and sit or stand-to-attention on the round platform at the top.  Ipswich newspaper shares a descriptive story, Height of Dread for Ganges Boys. The trip down from the top is pleasing, tells our client, “you slide the rope from half way, where the others have to step to the beat of the music, all the way to the ground. It’s harder coming down.”

View a Button Boy video one of many to be found on the Internet.

So, all in all, ordinary young men, training for their jobs…. yet leading the way!

I love that my job allows me to delve into different subjects and discover new things. It is heart-warming too, that future generations, friends and family will be able to enjoy a small insight into earlier times!

 

 

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!

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.

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.

 

 

PastPerfect Hints – Keyword Searching for Dates

Did you know…. When using the Keyword Search on PastPerfect (Version 5) – the default does not search for a date (i.e. 1800) within your text?  If you include year of manufacture, a year of birth, or stated a decade of operation within your title or object description, you may wish to follow this simple update.

PastPerfect Keyword Search
PastPerfect Keyword Search

From the main menu select Setup, Keyword Search. On the top right hand side there is a box – Valid characters to include in keywords in addition to A-Z.
Type the following in the box ‘0123456789’.
Select Rebuilt Indexes. Now you can search and find dates that are  quoted within your text using Keyword Search.

Stay tuned for more handy hints, when using PastPerfect.

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Handy Hints – PastPerfect Rename List A

Within Contacts of PastPerfect there are several ‘ready-made’ sections:

Membership, Volunteers, Docents (Tour Guides), Donors (Monetary) and more.

There is also two main lists – A List and B List.  Many museums use these for different categories.  In my experience, I have seen several organizations use the A List and B List for their Artifact Donors and Artifact Lenders.

Did you know that you can change/update this name label for these Lists?  For instance – A List can be changed to Lenders.

It’s simple:

Select Setup, Custom Fields, Contacts – on the right hand side you’ll see A List and B List. Here you can over-type and rename the label. You can use up to 12 digits. Be warned, however, from the main Contacts Page, only the first 10 letters are shown. It is a good idea to choose the new name with this in mind.

Contact me if you have any questions, or leave a comment below.

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Introducing Handy Hints – Working with PastPerfect

Museum Software’s PastPerfect is a fabulous package for cataloguing your collection. Ideal for Museums, Historical Societies, art galleries or in fact any organization that has an extensive collection.

This ready-to-use software, doesn’t need be to be built, programmed, and very little customization is required to get going. You can download a trial copy to test it out…. Trial

If you contact me, I am happy to tour you around the trial version. We can discuss what you do today, and how PastPerfect may be of benefit to you.

Importing existing databases can be tricky and a reasonable cost service for this is offered by the Museum Software Group.

I have worked with PastPerfect since 2005 and am situated in Ontario. Through this blog I intend to offer handy hints on best practices for using PastPerfect.

For many years I have participated in a PastPerfect User Group which meets twice a year in Southern Ontario.  Drop me a line if you’d like to join this group.

A service to photograph and document artifacts.
A service to photograph and document artifacts.