Tag Archives: artifacts

Who Made This?

Sewing Work-box made by H. Michael George (My Grandfather)

Collecting history and information about the origins of artifacts is fabulous…. with research you can understand the country where it was made, the artist or company that made it and often its date too!

So, who has wonderful family artifacts that were hand-made by a family member or ancestor?  Is it signed and dated? Often it is not.

It’s time to write down the knowledge you have today, to preserve this story for the future. Below I’ve detailed three family-made items that are precious to me.  By taking a photograph, describing them and adding the information about their makers – Voila! You have created a little piece of history worth keeping and sharing forward to your grandchildren and beyond.

This wooden sewing box was made by my Grandfather, H Michael George (1899-1961). He made it for my mother Joyce Muriel (Bake) George (1925-1999) during the early years of his marriage to my father Peter C George (1926-2008).

Dovetail joints

It is well used and the outer surface has many scratches, the stain has been refinished. However, the box is stable, with joints, metal hinges and sections still firmly in place. Date: ca 1952, Measurement: 11″ wide, 8″ deep, 4 3/4″ high.

Interior segments secured by nails.

The work-box came into my possession in the 1970s, when I had become our family seamstress.

Cot blanket knitted by Irene E George (My Nanna)

Next is a particularly precious item. Many women in our family are keen knitters, and it was my Grandmother “Nanna” – Irene E (Symes) George (1903-1996) who taught me how to knit and sew. Over the years we all received Arun jumpers, baby blankets and more made by “Nanna”. This is a baby blanket made for my son,  which time “Nanna” was in her 90s and had very poor sight, close to blind.  She would knit all through the evening, and the next morning she inspect her work with a magnifying glass, and the morning sunlight. Spotting mistakes, she proceeded to unpick the knitting back to that spot. I am sure this wonderful item was knitted one hundred times over, making it all the more precious. It is more loved because of the stoic effort and care she put into producing it.

White wool yarn baby cot/crib blanket. Hand-knitted. Slightly loose at edges through washing and use. Date: 1994, Measurement: 26″ x 36″.

Pottery by Lesley (George) Johnson (My Sister)

My final piece is a hand-made pottery table lamp holder. This was made for me by my younger sister Lesley Karen (George) Johnson (1959-2001).  Around 1975 she attended Highbury Technical College, near Portsmouth to complete her English A Level, plus art and pottery. She was a skillful artist on many levels and different media, but creating one-off pottery items was her passion. I have a few of her pieces with me here in Canada. Perhaps one day I’ll return them to England for her children and grandchildren.

Flat, rolled and textured pottery, brown textured glaze. Date: circa 1976, Measurement: 4″ square base, tapering to 1 3/4″ top, 13″ high.

Do you have a family items that needs to be ‘documented’, their story noted, so it’s story is noted and origins remembered?



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!

Digitize Your Artifacts!

Have you ever brought your wedding dress or bridal gown to the dinner table to show your friends? Likely not…. perhaps it is neatly wrapped in box and tissue, and stored in a wardrobe, quite unseen?

Treasured Collections specializes in grouping connected artifacts, documents and photographs together within a digital document.  A wedding dress is not much different.  My wedding wasn’t long ago, but in the 1990s, I wore a classic suit of the era, from one of the well known dress shop. Imagine how fabulous it would be if your grandmother’s dress was documented in this way?  In time your great-grandchildren may be interested to see this detail.

The document might include a wedding photo, the location, a picture of the dress, with close-ups of accessories and details.  Add to this a scanned wedding certificate, picture of the wedding rings, flowers, cake and more – whatever has survived in your memory box!

The digital document can be shared with friends on your iPhone, tablet or as a printed paper booklet.

Packaging artifacts in this way, can show the relationship between the artifacts and provide a neat summary of the occasion for your children and their descendants.

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!

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