Friday, 14 June 2013
This blog entry is written by local history research volunteer Becki Robrtson, who has been helping to research deeper into the Leeds social history collections.
Benjamin Marshall was allegedly a late 19th/early 20th century healer, using a technique described as “water casting.” I was looking into an advert of his, which advertised his business. On the reverse of this advertisement were a number of testimonials from people who claimed that they had been completely healed by Mr Marshall’s technique. Many of these people had been suffering from cancer, and yet had been cured in full by this “water casting,” where the doctors had failed (This is a common theme throughout the testimonials). I was researching into who these people were, attempting to discover if they had ever really existed.
The writers of the letters had very generously provided their address, and in many cases, the date of the letter. With this information, I decided to visit Leeds library and use the genealogy websites as a starting point. (Ancestry.com)
The first person I began looking for was a Robert Flowitt, who had been cured of a tumour on his forehead, and, at the time of his testimonial (June 21st, 1890) was living at 7, Springfield Avenue in Burmantofts. Ancestry did not yield any matching results at first. On the 1891 census there was only one Robert Flowitt listed, and he was nine years old at the time. However, in the 1890 Directory of Leeds and District (Slaters), there was a Robert Flowitt living at 147 Hunslet Road, which sadly is a different address to the one noted in the testimonial (written in the same year). I had the same problem with R.S. Terrington, who gave his address as 86 Harold Grove, in a letter dated 1891. The 1891 directory listed a Robert S. Terrington. It seemed that this must be the same man, as the intials matched and there was no other R. Terrington listed. However, again the addresses did not match. The Robert Terrington in the directory was living at 116 Westfield Road. This seems to imply that Mr Marshall had used names of real people, but had created false addresses for them.
Working my way through the list, I quickly discovered that there were a number of people who I simply could not trace. Mrs Gaunt and Richard Pallister had both provided dated letters with addresses, but there seemed to be no one of these names listed as living in Leeds at the time the letters were written. Similarly, I failed to find matches for William Yates, Mrs Weatherhill, Mrs Pickthall, or Mrs Pickard. I began to think that I was not going to find any of the people that Mr Marshall had referenced on his advertisement.
However, the next testimonial I started looking into was written by Saint Luke Lake, then at 45 Rosebank Grove. He had a young daughter who was also suffering from a tumour on her forehead. Mr Lake had rejected the solution offered by the doctors, and instead took her to Mr Marshall, who cured her perfectly. Initially this was quite difficult to research as I did not have the name of Saint Luke Lake’s daughter, and the letter was undated. However Saint Luke Lake is not a common name. I picked up the 1890 Directory of Leeds more or less at random, and immediately came across Saint Luke Lake, who was a tanner, living at 45 Rosebank Grove. I therefore knew that the letter writer, at least, was a real person. The next step was to find any record of his daughter. Returning to Ancestry, I discovered that Saint Luke Lake had married and was listed in the 1881 as 32 years old, but there was no record of a child at this time. However, in 1891,he had a little girl called Anne Lake, who was a year old. I therefore knew that not only was the letter writer real, but that he did have a child (who was still alive and well in 1901). It would be interesting to see if any medical records from this time can be accessed, as Anne was apparently taken to the LGI at some point. However, it does not seem likely that detailed individual records have survived.
Another letter was written by H.Wardman in 1906, who had been cured of a rupture. I discovered a Henry Wardman in the 1906 Directory (Robinson), living at 1 Leighton Street (which was the correct address) and his occupation was that of a furniture mover. This was quite interesting, as it does seem to be a career which could easily result in a rupture. Mr Henry Wardman was still alive and well in 1911. (1911 census).
Then I came to Mrs Driver, suffering from a white leg. This was another tricky one as I did not have a first name. However, she had kindly provided her address and a date (8 Ashford Street, 1884). Using this, I discovered a John Driver living at 8 Ashford street, which was then a Post Office. (Leeds Directory 1882-3). So I had a Mr Driver. I then checked this new information against the censuses. In 1881 John Driver was listed as living at 8 Ashford Street, along with his spouse, Elizabeth Driver. So I had another real person. Whether or not any of the people listed above had really provided the alleged testimonials cannot be proved one way or the other, but it is of interest that at least some of the people had existed, and the details on the advertisement were correct.
In regards to Benjamin Marshall himself, I noted that on his advertisement, he was based at 32 Marsh Street, having relocated from 41 York Street. I checked the Leeds directories for him, and discovered he was listed at York Street in 1888, and was still there in 1907. (the date of the last testimonial was in 1906). However, in 1908 and 1909 there was no record of him at either York Street nor Marsh Street. It seems likely therefore that the advertisement was an attempt to drum up business after his relocation, an attempt which, sadly, seems to have failed.
If any reader of this blog has any clearer idea of what being a "Water Caster" may have involved, we would love to know. It may have been related to homeopathy orhave involved some other mystical medical practice. It has echoes of religious practices relating to baptism and the power of Holy water. Any ideas welcome.
(Research and blog entry courtesy of Becki Robertson, volunteer)
Monday, 3 June 2013
Titled "Crown the Queen", the game was invented by Elaine Burton, Member of Parliament, who was then the Labour MP for the constituency of Coventry South (which she held from 1950-1959).
Below are a few other items from the Leeds museum collections which show how the city celebrated the occasion.
|The official Leeds programme|
|printer's proof for the Leeds Industrial Co-operative Society Ltd. Record, Coronation Number 1953|
|pencil design for an advertisement for Youngmans restaurant, |
by Dickinson Display Ltd.
|Leeds Amateur Operatic Society, "Merrie England" by Edward German, as part of the City of Leeds Coronation Operatic Festival, Temple Newsam Park, May 30th- June 10th 1953|
|Coronation souvenir playing cards,|
printed by Alf Cooke Ltd., Leeds
|Ballot for free coronation seats at Montague Burton Ltd., |
announced by the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Donald George Cowling
|Coronation bunting in a street in Harehills, Leeds. |
Courtesy of Yorkshire Post Newspapers Ltd.
|Quarry Hill Mount, Leeds.|
Courtesy of Yorkshire Post Newspapers Ltd.
Friday, 24 May 2013
Leah Mellors – Community History Cataloguing Internship Report
I have spent 30 days working with Marek Romaniszyn, in the Community History team at Leeds Museum Discovery Centre, documenting his digital film archive and a collection of London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic objects.
Community Film Archive
The digital film archive contained around 70 films that needed to be documented retrospectively. The films included the ‘Contemporary Collectors’ series, the ‘Faith in the City’ series and the ‘A Greener City’ series and most had accompanied an exhibition or display in the Leeds City Museum. I watched each film, taking detailed notes on what was said by the interviewees and, where possible, took direct quotations from the films. These quotations helped to give a greater insight into the content of the films but also gave some of the descriptions a more light-hearted feel. Having taken detailed notes, I documented each film on ‘The Museum System’ database, recording information such as provenance, constituents, exhibition history and date. I wrote a comprehensive description of each film, which could also be used on the website.
Having ensured that each film had a full database record, we needed to create a DVD playable copy and a MP4 data copy of each film. I burned a MP4 data copy of each film onto an archival-grade disc, whilst the DVD copies were burned by an external party, as the software was not available to us. Each disc was labelled with its title and accession number and placed in storage boxes. Seeing all 140 discs neatly labelled and lined up in their storage boxes was surprisingly satisfying! All the films were then placed in the Discovery Centre store and located on the database.
Not only did this project give me a thorough understanding of documentation using a museum database, it also gave me a really good insight into oral history films and how they can be used to complement an exhibition. It was fascinating to hear people’s experiences and memories and I learnt a lot about Leeds and the different perspectives, cultures and faiths in the city. By far my favourite series of films was ‘Faith in the City’: I have always been interested in religion and belief and these films taught me a great deal about different faiths, from the first-hand perspective of ordinary people practising religion in Leeds.
London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic collection
Alongside the documentation of the digital film archive, I also documented a collection of London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic objects that had been collected by Marek. Many of these objects related to the Olympic and Paralympic experience in Leeds and included the lamp that carried the Paralympic flame to Leeds and a wheel-guard from the Canadian Wheelchair Rugby team, who stayed in Leeds to complete their pre-Games training.
I completed the documentation process of these objects from start to finish. Firstly, I assisted with ‘Entry’ and ‘Transfer of Title’ forms, to accession the objects. Then, I labelled the objects with their accession numbers, either writing the number onto the object using ink and varnish or writing the number onto cotton tape and sewing this into textile items. I photographed the objects before recording information such as date, provenance, materials, dimensions and physical condition. Some research into the context of the objects was also required. All of this information was input onto ‘The Museum System’ database, before the objects were packed into boxes and stored in the Discovery Centre store.
Monday, 20 May 2013
A guest blog-post by ...
School of Archaeology & Ancient History, University of Leicester
I made the not-too-taxing train journey from Leicester to Leeds to take a look at two unusual silver finger rings in the museum’s collections. Both date to the late Roman period and came from the countryside about 10 miles west of modern Leeds.
The first ring (below) was uncovered during excavations at one of the wealthiest settlements in Roman West Yorkshire, the villa at Dalton Parlours (near Boston Spa). It was found at the bottom of a deep well, which the owner’s used as their main source of water. The ring shows signs of having been deliberately broken, and it may have been thrown down the well as an offering. Its owner might have hoped the gift would persuade the gods’ to keep the new well full of clean water, or perhaps just to get good luck! The ring is made of silver and is set with a piece of marbled glass moulded with the image of a ‘stick man’ holding a staff or spear. We can’t be sure what its owner thought of the figure, but it may been a warrior god such as Mars.
The second ring (below) was found by a local metal detectorist who was searching in the fields near the A1(M) not far from Micklefield. He promptly reported it to a member of the Portable Antiquities Scheme so that it could be recorded on their database. Since it was more than 300 years old and made of silver, the ring was declared ‘Treasure’ and donated to Leeds City Museum. This ring would have been much more valuable than the one from Dalton Parlours because it was set with an engraved carnelian gemstone. Gems like this came from right across the Roman Empire from the Sahara desert and even India. The intricate engraving shows the goddess Fortuna holding a cornucopia (horn of plenty) and steering a ruder, and would have been cut by a skilled craftsman - evidently with very good eyesight! Signet rings like this were used for sealing documents, and by choosing an image of Fortuna, its owner could express their wishes of good fortune whenever they sent a letter or signed a contract. The gem is rather worn and it must have been used for a long time, and was probably an heirloom by the time it was lost in the fields near Micklefield.
My PhD research has involved cataloguing Roman signet rings like these from right across Britain. By doing so, I hope to be able to study the way people in different parts of the province chose different images for their seals, and the kinds of messages they might have expressed. The Romans used a huge range of images on their seals, from heroes, gods and goddesses to animals, symbols and scenes from daily life. As well as this I will also be studying the types of gemstones that were popular. This is can be particularly interesting because ancient people believed different gems possessed different magical powers, which could do everything from give luck to a soldier on the battlefield to even preventing drunkenness! These two rings from rural West Yorkshire will be added to those in my database to help me study how people right across Britain used such objects about 1,700 years ago.
Good Luck with the rest of your research, Ian. This is a fascinating project that the collections here in Leeds are proud to have made a contribution to.
Thursday, 2 May 2013
Posted by Ian Fraser
Tuesday, 23 April 2013
|Madonna and Child tablet conserved|
but needing a frame for display.
|Detail of moulding being carved|
Making things that are curved can be interesting technical challenges. The Madonna and Child tablet that has undergone conservation works is for display at Temple Newsam House. Missing its frame, a new one, of an appropriate design for the 17th century, is being made in Temple Newsam's conservation department. Starting from the tablet a template was made, and then divided into four pieces. Oak was chosen for its strength and density; softwood would be easier to carve, but because the tablet is heavy, and softwood is also prone to some movement and splitting, this makes it less than ideal for framing the sort of object we are talking about here. It is also historically accurate, oak would likely have been used in this instance, and certainly all good church and cathedral joinery is done in oak. Four pieces of quarter sawn oak were rough shaped, and their ends precisely surfaced so that the ends met cleanly. Quarter sawn oak is very straight grained, and stable. The four pieces were glued together under the pressure of a web cramp. After the glue had set a floating tenon was let in across each of the four joints. Precisely shaping the inside and outside curves was the next step. This was followed by laying out with a sharp pencil the lines of the mouldings to be carved, the carving. This was done entirely with an old hacksaw blade that I ground to make a kind of planing knife. It worked surprisingly well, and the carving was quicker than I thought it would be. Keeping the edge sharp is essential, of course. So, regularly, it is over to the diamond grit lapping stone to get an edge back, and then giving the new edge a tickle on the polishing wheel. Wicked edge achieved! Over the coming days I will update with all the procedures, because eventually this frame will be watergilded, and then toned down to give the sort of appearance of an old gilded surface.
Frame in oak being fabricated and shaped.
|With the moulding carved and smoothed the frame is ready|
for the next stages.
Onto the bare oak a coat of rabbit skin glue size is brushed on. Mixed 1 part rabbit skin glue granules to 10 parts water, and then gently heated into solution. The subsequent layers of gesso is the size in the same dilution with chalk (calcium carbonate) mixed in. More about gesso and its purpose when we get to that stage. The hot size when applied to the oak will be absorbed a long way into the timber. This will prevent excess rabbit skin glue in the gesso being absorbed into the oak. This would weaken the gesso and make it crumbly. The size also helps with bonding the gesso to the wood, forming a chemical bridge between the two. Powerful hydrogen bonding takes place between the size and the wood, and the size and the gesso, an interface between the wood and the gesso, and absorbed into both.
|Rabbit skin glue size being brushed and worked|
into the surface of the wood that will be gilded.
|Powdered chalk is mixed into the|
size to make gesso. Enough chalk is mixed in
until the gesso has the appearance and
consistency of single cream.
|The coats of bole are made extremely smooth with|
a succession of abrasive papers, finishing with
an abrasive of at least 6000 grit. Effectively this
action is polishing the bole. The surfaces are now
ready to receive the gold leaf.
Gold leaf is extremely thin. In water gilding it is bonded to the substrate by the glue in the bole and the gesso. This is re-activated with water. To help bonding further a little rabbit skin glue size is added to the water. A little ethanol (a kind of alcohol) is added too. This helps to break the surface tension of the water and helps it to wet the surface instead of beading. Gilders call this solution "size water". The gold leaf is cut to manageable, suitable, sizes and shapes with a gilder's knife. The gold is supported on a gilder's cushion at this stage, having been drawn out of the book of gold leaf it was stored in. A gilder's tip is a kind of wide, fine brush. It is used to pick the gold up. It has to be slightly sticky so that the gold transfers to the tip. I put a little Vaseline on the back of my left hand, and periodically, when the gold no longer stays on the tip, brush the tip over the Vaseline.
|Laying the gold leaf|
|Picking up gold leaf with a kind of brush called a gilder's tip|
|Size water is applied to the bole. This activates the glue|
in the bole, and gesso. As the water is drawn into
the porous surface the gold leaf is sucked down onto
the surface, and is bonded by the glue.
|All the gold leaf down. Next step, after the gilding has|
dried, is to dust off the excess, and then burnish the
two round mouldings.
|The frame has been toned down with some coats of weak size|
with black and brown watercolour mixed in. This is very effective
in giving an aged appearance, taking down the very bright, new gold
without detracting from its lustre. Ready for installation by
Temple Newsam's technicians. Fait accompli!
Posted by Ian Fraser
Thursday, 11 April 2013
This spring the Community History Team at Leeds Museums and Galleries are working with a Peer Support Group, and colleagues from the West Yorkshire Playhouse on the topic of Magic and Mystery. On Tuesday we took a quick look at the ritual practices in Tibet, as Tibetan religious art is famous for its use of human bone – usually the bone of respected priests and abbots, who have shown special spiritual powers during their life-times.
A star item was this mounted skull cup, or Kapala, one of two in the collections (the other was shown in the recent Treasured exhibition at Leeds City Museum, see the detail on the poster). On this cup you can see the human cranium clearly, sitting on the triangular brass stand beneath the encased cover (whose handle knob is now missing). The cover is rather battered but you can still see deity images and key words in Lautsa script round the sides. The cup was found in a Bradford attic in 1962 and taken to Mr S Jackson at Bradford Museum, who gave it to a Mr K Wilson, in Ilkley, to take in to Abbey House Museum. It is amazingly similar to one at the British Museum http://goo.gl/UH2oO.
sterious in a different way is this masquerade set, supposedly from the Himalayas, purchased by the museum from Ye Olde Antique Shop, Denholme, in 1975. But if you look closely many aspects of these items reflect a more European style, possibly of New Age performance of belief.
We are not sure which character the mask represents, or which dance or performance it would have been worn for. The owner of the antique shop who sold the objects to us described the set as a 'Devil Dancer's Outfit'. Here is a link to a video of a cham dance from the Bon (pagan) faith http://goo.gl/Uamsd, if you want to compare this mask set from some modern versions in performance. It’s all very intriguing and if you have ever come across a similar mask set, do let us know.
June always carries a tiny horse’s head of gilt lead in her purse, she has had it for many decades – a gypsy sold it to her when she was 15. A tiny horseshoe was there too, but it dropped out. She also has a silver lucky charm bracelet, which belonged to her mother.
Trevor used his grandfather’s watch in every exam. It was a good time-keeper, as his grandad was a railway man. His mother had a small coffin with an image of someone laid out inside it. She kept it locked away in a box, and told Trevor that if the image inside ever came out of the coffin a close family member would die.