Thursday, 28 February 2013

Investigating some new items

As part of my placement at Abbey House Museum I was given the task of researching some objects that the museum had recently obtained and finding some more background information on them.

One of the objects was a circular tobacco box which had embossed ‘Cardigan Arms’, ‘compliments’ and the initials ‘W.M. Charltons.’ To find out more about the object I visited the Leeds Central library. Having never been to this library before I found the new experience really exciting, especially the local and family history section where I found all of my information. It was great that I could look in the old directories and found myself looking up who had lived at my current and previous address around one hundred years ago!

At first I felt a bit overwhelmed as to where to start in my research so I just picked up a directory from 1915 and started searching. I found out that there were two Cardigan Arms at that time, one in Bramley and one in Kirkstall. I searched both of the establishments and found that a Mr William Mitchell Charlton owned the Cardigan Arms Hotel, Kirkstall, in 1915. This meant that I had found the right person as the initials on the box read W.M. Charltons. Also including the word ‘Compliments’ on the box would suggest that the box was in a hotel room.

After knowing I had found the right person I wanted to know when he first came to manage the establishment. After trawling through many of the large directories I finally came to the earliest date that I could find with him being a listed occupant and that was around 1908. William Charlton ran the hotel until around 1929 where a Horace Movely Charlton took over and was the listed occupier (this could be presumed to be his son or other relative). 

Another object that I was researching on my placement was a poster advertising ‘The Great Water Caster’ Mr. Benjamin Marshall. The poster claims that Mr Marshall can cure people of all diseases and complaints from rheumatism and fits to female complaints and even cancer.

The back of the leaflet has testimonials from people who all claim that Benjamin Marshall cured them of their disease. For example, Mr Wetherill wrote ‘Dear Sir - I send you this testimonial for curing me of fits when all others failed...’ in 1884.

The dates on the testimonials are all around the 1880’s and 1890’s and vary in different types of conditions that the people had and have been cured of. The directories in the Leeds local and family history library were again of great use to me. I was able to look up his address and previous addresses to find out how long he practised this type of remedies. Under all of the trade directories he was listed as an herbalist (someone who uses plants and home remedies to cure people of certain diseases). I found this poster to be really interesting as the claims of Benjamin Marshall tend to be really far fetched, especially in today’s modern times. Did Mr Marshall’s remedies and methods actually work? Maybe he did cure some people of minor complaints, such as indigestion. Seeing the poster first hand and finding out a bit more information on Benjamin Marshall and society during the 1890’s and early 1900’s has really made my placement more enjoyable and worthwhile.

Written by Emily Bannister, student at Leeds Trinity University College whilst on placement at Abbey House Museum.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Pictogram lottery advert - puzzle solved!

The official translation of this baffling rebus or pictogram is:

"Catch Fortune when you can.  As every man would rather get money than not, the attention of all is called to the New Lottery, in which, by a small risk, they may get an independent fortune. They should hasten to the nearest lottery office, and then, by purchasing even a share, they may secure what they desire, and which cannot fail to make the mare go, and place them (if money be their deity) in an earthly paradise."

The address at the bottom is for BISH, 4 Cornhill and 9 Charing Cross, London.

We set colleagues, museum visitors, our facebook followers and readers of the Yorkshire Evening Post of trying to decifer this, and it was also picked up by the Telegraph Online.  A few observant people spotted that there were a couple of other versions of this puzzle on the internet, most notably on the Hull museums collections website
The Hull version of the advertisement included the solution at the bottom (something that J.R. Hunt of Worcester felt his customers didn't need!).   There is also another example in the British Museum, which also appears to include the answer.

The advertisement was designed by Thomas Bish who has been recently researched by Gary Hicks, author of 'The First Adman: Thomas Bish and the Birth of Modern Advertising', published by Victorian Secrets, November 2012.  Gary Hicks kindly got in touch with reference to the article in the Telegraph Online and says:  This looks like a lottery advert by Thomas Bish (1779-1842) who pioneered modern advertising in order to sell tickets in the old state lottery, which Parliament abolished in 1826 following a campaign by William Wilberforce. It would therefore date from before 1826.

Bish was a strange mixture of idealist and spiv who managed to be expelled from both House of Commons and the Stock Exchange in the same year. Returning to Parliament as MP for Leominster in 1832, he formed an unlikely alliance with the Irish radical leader Daniel O'Connell to campaign for Irish reforms.

But Bish was also a marketing genius, hiring the essayist Charles Lamb as copywriter and the great George Cruikshank as illustrator. Techniques he pioneered included spin-doctoring, graphic design, the use of modern typography, direct marketing and even early market research.

One of his many innovations was the use of enigmatic pictorial puzzles to grab the attention - like the one you have and which Richard Cooke (Telegraph comments) seems to have solved. These posters advertising forthcoming lotteries would be plastered everywhere by hundreds of skilled bill-stickers hired by Tom Bish.

Cash prizes of £30,000 (about a £1 million today) were quite common.
[information courtesy of Gary Hicks]

Despite the official transcription being revealed, there have been many suggestions of alternative translations of the rebus which sometimes seem an improvement on the original. The section that proved most baffling was near the end.

The phrase "to make the mare go" comes from the old saying "money makes the mare go" which is no longer in common usage. It appears in this old nursery rhyme:
Will you lend me your mare to ride a mile?
No, she is lame leaping over a stile.
Alack! and I must go to the fair!
I'll give you good money for lending your mare.
Oh. oh! say you so?
Money will make the mare go.

There were many alternative suggestions made including:
  • to make the Lame (pictogram of a Lame Horse) go
  • pony - American expression "pony up" meaning aquittal of debt
  • Could be "pony" (London slang for £25) which is reasonable for a prize of £30,000!
  • which cannot fail to make the (night)mares go
  • cannot fail to make the heart (hart) go
  • cannot fail to make the charges go
  • cannot fail to make the [burden] go, and [shell] them
  • 'the nag leave them'. The nag meaning the nagging worries of poverty (also suggested as a term for "wife")
  • To make stock go and leave them if money be their deity. A play on words because you already have share, you will then have stock and share as in finance. Your animals won't be needed any more to earn a living because you will have lots of money.
  • The "blues" is just a guess. In America, "Old Blue" could be the nickname for a farm horse.
  • buck. As in cannot fail to make a buck.
  • a "dun" (= brown horse/debt collector) 
  • I think the horse actually stands for 'brood'. The horse looks pregnant. A breeding mare is called a brood mare. Brood in this case could stand for "family
  • Cannot make the Marengo (Marengo being an old Italian coin)
  • Which cannot fail to make the man you are go (manure).
  • cannot fail to make the paltry go, and leave them. I should imagine that most monies ever thought of by the working man WOULD have been paltry compared to the Lottery prize!
  • Hours (horse)
  • fail to make the grade (a white horse is a grey in equine terms)
Thanks to all  who replied to this appeal and helped solve the riddle.  We apologise that we can't offer a £30,000 prize!.  The advertisement is currently on display at Abbey House Museum in our exhibition "Fate and Fickle Fortune", where it is displayed near another early relic of the first British lottery, a ticket from 1792.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Sharing Appreciation of Islamic Art

A table at the Discover Islam Week, Parkinson Court,
University of Leeds

By Antonia Lovelace and Gabrielle Hamilton
It was great to be invited to participate in the University of  Leeds' Islamic Society's Discover Islam week again this year. We took seven items, including the Khanga cloth from Tanzania that we hung at the front of our table. Our most prized Islamic item, a fragment of the Kaaba cloth from 1917 took pride of place and we also exhibited a Turkish waistcoat, c. 1900 with stylised Arabic calligraphy in a very fine chain stitch and a Turkish necklace with brass coins. Two items prompted the most enthusiastic conversations, a Takhti, or writing board from Pakistan with an ink packet (entitled Churaj Roshani - or bringer of light), clay and pen (kolam), bought in Pakistan in 1975 by a previous curator, which Irfan Raja and others commented on, who had learnt their first letters using such a board, 

and the seal and manuscripts from Nepal belonging to Maharaj Rana Singh Bahadoor. Several people have asked for the longer Persian text to be sent to them by e-mail, so hopefully we may get a translation of key elements of this quite soon.
Two readers were able to give us the date on the longest manuscript - 13 July 1879.

Thank you to Zaki Al-Ghazal for inviting us to the event, which continues for the rest of the week (though we could only be there for today), and a big thank you to Ismail Hussayn, the Arabic calligrapher, who kindly wrote
VOICES OF ASIA, the title of the redisplay we are planning for Leeds City Museum World View gallery, for us:
You can find Ismail at twitter@IsmailHussayn

Sunday, 17 February 2013


Knole Park, Sevenoaks, Kent, a National Trust property
The collections and historic buildings at Leeds Museums and Galleries have a very high cultural value, so much so that many of the collections are Designated as being of national significance. Moreover, Temple Newsam House is the greatest historic house under local authority management in the United Kingdom. This value, or intellectual capital, has been created by curatorial expertise, often with conservation support. Curatorial expertise, and leadership, and what is generated from these for visitors, are core functions and strengths of service delivery. All other museum functions, including conservation, are, in effect, parasitical to those core strengths, i.e. they draw their reason for existence, and the "raw materials" of service delivery from the core strengths. The expertise, experience and judgment built up by working with these great collections and buildings has value to other organisations in advisory capacities. Two examples of outreach to other heritage organisations, to which I have contributed, are set out here.
The team at Knole Park, Sevenoaks, Kent, will be, all being well, embarking on a multi-million pound project to conserve the building fabric, interiors, and collections of the National Trust's (NT) largest, most important and most problematic historic house. The project also has a major audience development element, in keeping with the NT's policy of "Bringing places to life". Very excitingly the NT plans are to include the creation of conservation studios in the medieval barn adjacent to Knole. The NT are preparing a Stage 2 bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for project funding, and as part of developing the bid held a specialists' consultation day on 06/02/2013. Specialists in conservation, archaeology and historic house interpretation and audience development were invited by the National Trust to review their plans and comment. The exercise will help the National Trust to develop its Stage 2 bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The medieval barn at Knole. It was badly damaged in a fire in the 1980s, and the
roof is modern. As part of the buidling's conversion to conservation studios the original
steep roofline will be restored.
Maquette of the Carved Room at Burton Constable Hall
Burton Constable Hall, near Hull, with whom LMG has worked in partnership since 1992, has a hugely interesting Baroque interior, from about 1680, the Carved Room. Unfortunately this room was heavily interfered with, and damaged, when it was converted into a catering kitchen, when Burton Constable Hall was still a private house. The room is entirely wooden panelling, and replete with fine carved mouldings. Most of the panelling survives ex situ. Paint analysis shows that it had a very light green, terre verte decorative scheme, with elements of the carving picked out in gold. There is also a fine double-vaulted ceiling that will need re-consruction, along with the extensive woodwork repairs, installation and decorating of the panelling. The sash window is one of the earliest in existence, contemporary with sash windows at Hampton Court. Elevations of the walls have been drawn, as well as ceiling plans. The distribution of green and gold has been mapped. Wooden components have been linked to their places on the elevations. The maquette in the picture has been prepared both for visitors and for Burton Constable Trustees. With plans and costs now all determined the next step is applications for funding to funders like the Pilgrim Trust, the Monument Trust and the Heritage Lottery Fund. It is going to be a thrilling project, and a rare opportunity to research and re-construct a Baroque interior, and an opportunity to refresh the joiner and carver skills.

Design for the vaulted ceiling

Posted by Ian Fraser

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Love is in the Air!

It's Valentine's Day and we're feeling heart-y in the archaeology and numismatics department. A recent acquisition is this beautiful seventeenth century bleeding heart seal.

One of a number of post-medieval seals discovered by metal-detectorists and recorded by the Portable Antiquities Scheme, Leeds Museums were able to acquire the seal through generous donations. It shows a heart with an arrow through it with four drops of blood below. In addition it has the inscription “thy uertu merits more” (Your Virtue Merits More).

Usually seen as an amatory token, several of these have been found and recorded through the PAS. Ours is special because it still has the delicate hinge that held the seal and its back piece together and is particularly finely made. However, the seal may be much more than a love token. There has been recent debate as to whether these seals may have had a religious rather than a romantic significance. Some interpretations relate its symbolism to that of the Christian Sacred Heart which alludes to Christ's death and the transformative power of divine love. Regardless of which interpretation you agree with, I'm sure you'll agree it is a beautiful addition to the collections here in Leeds.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Snakes Come Out for Chinese New Year of the Snake
                        by Antonia Lovelace and Sinny Cheung

This weekend it's Chinese New Year and we are taking some snake objects (not real snakes!) along to an event at Headingley Library (Saturday 9th February 10 to 2), and to the big celebration by Leeds Chinese Community Association at Leeds Town Hall on Sunday 10th February. According to the Chinese Zodiac people born in the year of the snake are wise, enthusiastic and attractive, but sometimes conceited, stingy and unfaithful. You are likely to be a Snake Chinese Zodiac person if you were born in 1953, 1965, 1977, 2001 and this year too - 2013. The red paper-cut snake shown here is one of a set of 12 donated to the museum in 2008 by Suna Zie who was working with us on the Chinese Treasures project. They were made by her mother. You can see several from the whole set in the Fate and Fickle Fortune exhibition that opened recently at Abbey House Museum.

Looking for toy snakes that would appeal to family participants we've chosen a colourful beaded Turkish snake, eating a lizard, from 1917, and a plastic snake, made in China from the early 1970s.

I definitely remember playing with a similar bendy snake as a child.
The name is fabulous ' Wriggly Billy'!  If you come and meet us you will also see a real python skin, on loan from HMS Customs.
As dragons are also another Chinese Zodiac animal and very LUCKY we will bring some Chinese dragons along too: a hundred year old embroidered panel with a five clawed golden dragon and a modern dragon puppet.

Leeds Museums and Galleries has helped in the Leeds Chinese Community Association New Year celebrations for many years, beginning in a big way in 2007, the year before the Chinese Treasures exhibition. We will be working with them again for the Voices of Asia project,  the major redisplay in the World View Gallery at Leeds City Museum, that is due to open in Spring 2014.

Photos from Headingley Library Chinese New Year on Sat 9 February:

Photos from Leeds Chinese Community Association big celebration in Leeds Town Hall


Tuesday, 5 February 2013

pictogram puzzle

We are looking for puzzle experts and lateral thinkers to help to decipher this pictogram puzzle from our collections.  The baffling advertisement features in the current Abbey House exhibition "Fate and Fickle Fortune".  Dating from about 1860 is is advertising a lottery with a very handsome £30,000 jackpot prize.

The first line appears to read "Catch Fortune When You Can", but we would appreciate help with de-coding the rest, so any suggestions would be very welcome.