Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Boxes...for Sepia Saturday 166

Click to read about Sepia Saturday.

I love Boxes !!

Well, just take a look at my Box Room ! 

I will always plump for a nice box in a supermarket rather than a polythene bag. Let me see what I can find in my box room of Sepia interest.

Ah yes !!

Mum's first Camera...Kodak Brownie....a real Box Camera

My mum was born in 1920, and this is what she got in July 1930 for her 10th birthday gift in from her parents:

I doubt she ever  lost it, but she was sure to get it back if she did!!
According to Wikipedia...The Brownie popularized (woops!... popularised....serves me right for copying US written text) low-cost photography and introduced the concept of the snapshot. The first Brownie, introduced in February, 1900, was a very basic cardboard box camera with a simple meniscus lens that took 2¼-inch square pictures on 117 rollfilm. With its simple controls and initial price of $1, it was intended to be a camera that anyone could afford and use, hence the slogan, "You push the button, we do the rest."

The camera was named after the popular cartoons
 "The Brownies" created by Palmer Cox, a Canadian illustrator and author.
I also have Mum's photo album of her summer beach holidays which covers her aged 5 to 17,  Rhyl 1925, Borth 1926 and 1930, Sheringham 1928, Hunstanton 1929, Filey 1931, Criccieth 1932, (including days out on Snowdon and at Portmeirion), Chapel St Leonards 1933, Tenby 1934 and 1937, Chapel St Leonards 1936.

Its the photos at Borth in 1930 that must include the first taken with her new camera:

Mum aged 10 at Borth, 1930, with her pet spaniel Billy, and cousin "Tim" Ian  Scholefield. The first prints. The viewer will notice that the photos, presumably taken by an adult, were still very much in the "snapshot" category, but so what? They do absolutely capture the atmosphere of young children loving their beach holiday.

You will probably remember last week's blog where I dealt with "Happy Families" and included a shot of a "Less Happy Family". Thank you for being patient. Here it is again, and I believe it is the very first photo taken by Mum herself, and worthy of printing and a place in her album. Clearly Mum had not mastered the unfortunate art of "say cheese" and getting her subjects to compose themselves. In fact her first photo was brilliant as it showed how it really was, a bitterly cold Welsh summer day......nobody for miles around except her mother, father aunt and my great grandfather William Barnes at age 82. We are a very British family made of stern stuff!

Borth beach....alternate view in colour. Courtesy BBC.

The negative envelope, with a very Welsh negative !!

Here are some of my other boxes that I like and which have Sepia qualifications:

Left overs in the stationery cupboard.

More left overs from the stationery cupboard, and relief for the geese.

Great grandfather William Slater's ivory billiard balls.

Not much demand for sealing wax these days.

"Part Rag Plain Flat- Green Blotting", by the late *Martin Rogers of Kirk Ireton and
the School of Art and Design, University of Derby.

The End

*Post Script

In writing this blog and including the last photograph I searched for my past friend Martin Rogers who was a very close friend when we both lived in Kirk Ireton, Derbyshire, in the 1980s and 1990s. I was very sad to read of his recent death. As the artistic Luddite that I am, I learnt so much from Martin, I understood his work just by knowing him so well, the wonderful coffee and food produced from his Aga, and his generous quiet nature. I remember him taking delivery of the several reams of green blotting paper to guillotine for this work. I am so glad I put this little box away safely and can share it with you now.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Happy Family Portraits...Sepia Saturday (165)

(If I really have to guess I will go for Canada 1963)
Oh dear !

I found this weeks photo a bit of a challenge. I really could not read the faces of this little group, they give nothing away except that they have prepared themselves for a formal studio photo. To me the year and the nationality is obscure.

They appear to be generic parents with a little generic boy, in a generic pose. The generic granny was undoubtedly pleased to receive a copy for a generic Christmas present.

 Hmmmm!...What could I possibly write about? Am I allowed to miss a week if I don't feel inspired?

I could tease them.........perhaps I might have focused on his winklepickers or his string vest, but I worried that this may be a favoured family photo of a senior member of the Sepia Saturday governing body, and I began to quake at the consequences. I am a new boy after all.

On the assumption that this little group appeared a moderately Happy Family (if not a trifle stressed by the event) , I decided to go and find that pack of cards Granny Aspdin used to pull out for me when I was little.

(Actually, they used to terrify me when I was little !!)

Happy Families was devised by John Jaques II in 1851. The games manufacturer John Jaques of London (founded in 1795) commissioned a set of drawings from John Tenniel,. Tenniel is most noted for two major accomplishments: he was the principal political cartoonist for England’s Punch magazine for over 50 years, and he was the artist who illustrated Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass.

The game was shown at the Great Exhibition of that year and was an instant success, rapidly superseding similar games such as John Bull in which players also collected sets of four cards. Jaques' version of Happy Families remained popular until the Second World War, but was lucky to survive thereafter. In 1941, during the Blitz, a large bomb destroyed the Hatton Garden factory. However, a safe, which had been kept at the top of the building and had fallen through to the basement, yielded the charred remains of an old pattern book, which included the originals for all the firm's card games.

My Happy Ancestors

Here are a few of my happy ancestors. Well, I assume they were happy, but I don't think that smiling was encouraged in the days of slow film speed in the 1800s . In fact, looking at my old family albums, family groups are increasingly rare the further one goes back, I assume because of the wriggle factor.

John Bywater Smith and  wife Mary Ann (nee) Woolley with sons
 Joseph Arthur and Charles Sydney, and daughters Edith and  Mabel.

Circa 1892 (Arthur Neale, Nottingham)

Do you remember the skating  Slater sisters last week? Here they are with their parents circa  1899.

I never knew any of the loosely related family below, but I do think they look a lovely happy family, even if the Mum was distracted.

The Olorenshaw family
(Circa 1906. Photo J Perks, Swadlincote)
Harriett Elizabeth (Cissie) HEWITT b. c. Feb 1867 Derby DBY d. 1935 Coventry WAR
(road accident) m: 4 Sep 1893 Alvaston DBY George William Borbeck OLORENSHAW b.
c.Feb 1868 Alfreton DBY
|- George OLORENSHAW b. c.Aug 1894 Coventry WAR
|- Grace OLORENSHAW b. c.Feb 1896 Coventry WAR
|- Mary OLORENSHAW b. c.May 1897 Coventry WAR
|- John OLORENSHAW b. c.Nov 1900 Coventry WAR
Research: Courtesy Brett Payne.

Big Happy Family, (and cheeky maid inside!)

The Hewitt family, 10 children of John Richardson Hewitt and 3 friends, at their home in Uttoxeter Old Road Derby circa 1889. 
 Harriett Elizabeth (Cissie) HEWITT from the prior photo must be back row right. If the ckeeky maid stayed with the family until the 1891 census she was Hannah FIELDING , single aged 28. Domestic Servant. Born Leicester, Norton Weal.

Less Happy Family. British Beach Holiday.
Summer (Yes!!) 1930.

I will be writing about these ancestors next week!! The photographer, my Mum, was a very happy 11 year old, wait until next week to find out why !!
 Borth (Welsh: Y Borth, (literally English: The Port)) is a coastal village 7 miles north of Aberystwyth in the county of Ceredigion, Mid Wales.

The end

February 23, 2013

I added these photos of some of the Hewitt sisters after responding to Barbara and Nancy's comment. The first is the little girl at the front left of the group image, the others are of her older sisters (when they were younger) and I include these as there are undeniable similar looks, the curly fringe being a feature !

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Let me lead you up the garden path.......on Sepia Saturday (164)

Follow me up my garden path............. to my outside loo..........yes,  I do intend to be a little obtuse. Its still February in England, and in case you don't understand what that means to us, its a month of gloom when you wish you could have flu and stay in bed, and this year I have been lucky in that respect, wiped out of enthusiasm for two full weeks. The worst thing is that now I feel better in all respects other than my taste buds, so a nice glass of red wine, that universal panacea, tastes appalling.

The theme this week.......
Learn about Sepia Saturday
Firstly....and especially for US citizens.......this is a TORTOISE.......its not a turtle. In British English we describes these reptiles as "tortoises" if they live on land and don't swim. This little chap cannot swim, he loves to live in arid land around the Mediterranean. Its pretty certain, on my research, that he is a spur-thighed tortoise (Testudo graeca) or Greek tortoise, one of five species of Mediterranean tortoise.

What is more important.... I have good reason to believe that this particular young tortoise, was not born in Greece, but in Egypt or Israel, although he was well journeyed, and did indeed visit Greece, and just possibly may now be living in any of Israel, Egypt, Libya, Greece, Syria, Ceylon or Australia. He was a War Tortoise, a battalion mascot.

(Tim may just possibly be on the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea, but I doubt Tim would have fared well there, I hope he was spared).

The Kokoda Track campaign, 1942.

Am I crazy? Am I leading you up the garden path?

You decide....but later... please read on >>>

Here is my related Sepia Saturday contribution this week:

Yes...this really is where my garden path leads.

Let me tell you a little about the Sepia age qualifications of this photo:

  • Brickwork....Circa 1895 
  • Toilet bowl and seat.....Circa 1899 
  • Bronco toilet paper....Circa 1975 (Choice of green or blue still available at this location) 
  • WW1 ammunition box with canvas handles......Circa 1916 
  • Box contents.....Straw, barley, packing for the use of. Circa 2012. 
  • ** Other relevant box contents (not disclosed!) .....Circa 1940/50 
If your Latin is not up to click, scratch here.

Th-Th-Th-Th-Th-... That's all, folks!! You will have to read my blog until at least the end of March, possibly early April, it all depends upon the jet stream and how it affects the weather in Derby. But I promise you a thrilling surprise from this week's photo.

The End

 I had written the following before Sepia Saturday gave away the true subject of the photo:

Courtesy of Palestine Post, February 13, 1940

Now I can tell you.............The man is Captain D Michelson. The tortoise is Tim, one time mascot of the 2/2nd Battalion (Australia). The location is Camp Julis in Palestine. The month is March 1940. Read about the battalion and its movements in 1939-1945 at Wikipedia.

Members of the 2/2nd Battalion in 1941.

If Tim did get left behind, this is a recent sunset at Camp Julis that
may tell him its time to get tucked up for the night. Courtesy of Panoramio.

The absolute end
(at least until the box is opened!)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Spies.......for Sepia Saturday 163

I recognised him immediately. Being trained in observation from an early age as a Cub Scout was only part of it. What really made me jump was the connection with an inheritance from my grandmother, Granny Aspdin, (yes, the wife of my cycling bank clerk of a grandfather about whom I wrote last week). The inheritance is the only first edition book I have on my shelf, and were it not in less than mint condition I dare say it would be worth a bob or two.
My treasured first edition.

The book is very well known, and I will be surprised if I am the only one this week to have recognised Jerzy Fröwn, discretely standing there. His subtle choice of black on a snowy day is reflective of his early days training in the Czech navy, and quite possibly explains why he was fatally shot. [See 3rd line of page 2].

It was an unfortunate start to de-coding the message from Q his cell had received the day before, S370HSSV-0773H. He he never did realise he was reading it upside down.

But............... I know readers really want to know about my Granny Aspdin and English winters, so here she is in the 1930s in an era when we had genuine weather in Derby, and when water froze, those awful days before we finally succeeded in our quest to warm Earth sufficiently to stop us East-Midlanders having anything more than mud, fog  and grey skies in winter.

The nee Slater girls, Granny-Evelyn Aspdin right and
 sister Beatrix Smith left. The Mundy Paddling Pool,
 Markeaton Park, Derby, circa 1930, and today, below.

Granny Aspdin had married my grandfather Bertie Aspdin in 1914.

The "going away"....

....Vernon Street, Derby, 1914....woops !

 They must have had the wedding reception here at home, the family home where I now live, as photo evidence shows it did not entirely go without a hitch when they came to leave. Granny had a good life and lived into her 80s, but she always seemed jinxed on such occasions by unreliable transport. I remember that after the church funeral in 1966 all my family climbed into the big black limousine provided by the undertakers, only to find that the battery was flat. With my father telling me to get out and help push ( I refused out of embarrassment as a 16 year old) all the mourners put their shoulders behind the limo' for a jump start. A smooth purr later from the Rolls Royce engine and off we went, following Granny in the hearse to the crematorium.

(Photo 1904)  Granny Aspdin's father William Slater had built the house in
1895 for his family, below....

William Slater's children, Beatrix, the youngest and Evelyn (lower seated),
 with Alice, William and Harry. Can you recognise Evelyn and Beatrix
 on the skating photo?  Circa 1891

My great-grandfather William Slater with skating daughters Evelyn
(left) and Beatrix, outside the kitchen door. Circa 1899

Me with my daughters, Alice  (left) and Fiona, same pose,same place,
 just over 100 years later ! 2003.

Oh!...its Alice's 20th birthday Tuesday, I think I will post this early, she's away at University and I need to send her a card, this post can be her card, that will save a couple of quid.

 Happy Birthday AL !!
 Love Daddy xxxxxxxxxxxxx

The End


I scanned an image from page 2 of the book for you.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Sepia Saturday-162. Bicycles etc

Introduction, for a first post in a new blog

For a long time I have been following the blogs of my friend Brett Payne at Photo Sleuth, and more recently his posts for Sepia Saturday. I have lots of old photos, not as a collector, but just as a lucky series of inheritances. As and when time permits I like to go digging to explain the unexplained, and over the years Brett has helped me and taught me a thing or two.

Now is the time to have a crack at blogging some of my material as I have always been conscious that whilst I rely enormously on what others have blogged, much of what I discover I never share. I want to start to put that right.

This Saturday the Sepia Saturday theme is:

so here goes !!!!

The Harris Cycle Co Ltd, Coventry, England

A few years ago, from my late father's papers, I unearthed this old trade catalogue, with a strange manuscript message on the front cover.

Even the most unadventurous could not fail to follow the instruction, and this is what I found inside:

 "Mr Aspdin's Testimony"

Now...this "Mr Aspdin" is supposedly my grandfather, Bertie Dyche Aspdin (1871 to 1943). He died before I was born, and I only know him from photos. It certainly does look like him. But was this just a family joke? Did someone spot a Doppelgänger and send it to my grandfather? This needed a little more investigation.

Firstly...... a slightly better resolution of the model:

It certainly looks to me like a man of the right
 age group, in 1908 he would have been aged
 37, so I cannot discount him on age grounds.

My grandfather was no model. He was a bank clerk all his life, a one company man (ignoring later takeover by the Westminster Bank) rising from the bottom aged 17 in 1888, to be Chief cashier and Counter Clerk of The Derby and Derbyshire Banking Company Ltd at his retirement in 1936.

His appointment letter of June 1888.

He was a careful man. His first weeks wage was a half-sovereign. A full sovereign was GBP £1, a gold coin then. He did not spend it, and I still have it.

Back to some photo evidence..........

In my inherited photos I have an image on very thin photographic paper. I suspect that this is an unmounted image, as might be offered for sale at the time, at the most modest price to the public, by local publishers such as Richard Keene and his successors or perhaps by another local publisher. It is of the premises of the main branch of the The Derby and Derbyshire Banking Company Ltd in Corn Market, Derby, on the occasion of the visit to Derby of Queen Victoria on May 21, 1891.

The local publisher, Hobson "Advertiser" of Market Place, Derby,  describes the bank's decorations in its illustrated memorial volume of the visit as follows: The strong point of the Derby and Derbyshire Banking Co's, premises was its splendid series of crystal illuminations, in Messrs. Defries and Co's, best style, embracing a magnificent device of blue and white, with Royal initials in the centre, and surmounted with a ruby and amber crown. On either side were the letters "V.R." in huge white crystals, and above them were stars with red cross centres, encircled with the motto of the Order of the Garter, Honi soit qui mal y pense. Here, also, in addition to a noble shield of the Royal arms, was a most effective drapery of brown material, with a heavy fringing and tassels of amber quite the prettiest thing in this part of the thoroughfare.

Now what would a 20 year old counter clerk be doing on such a special day? Surely all the customers would be out on the street celebrating? Business was probably be slack. That's right, he would be peering out of the window watching the happenings in the street !!

So is this Bertie Aspdin? I do think so.


 Here are 3 photos that are definitely Bertie Aspdin, probably circa 1889, 1892 and 1901, the last being when he was about 30, and still about 7 years before the cycle photo.

Was Bertie a cyclist?

The answer to this is yes, at the turn of the century he was clearly a keen cyclist as he was a member of the Cyclists Touring Club for a number of years, and carefully kept his annual metal membership badges along with its silver holder. But I am afraid that is all I know about his cycling days. Its pretty conclusive that he took more than just a utility interest in cycling, and so could well have taken up the invitation from The Harris Cycle Co Ltd:

One more clue, and a salutary warning from Bertie's death certificate:


What do you think? Was the man in the catalogue Bertie Aspdin or a Doppelgänger ? Please vote in the comments.

Post Script (February 7, 2013)

The facade of the Derby and Derbyshire Banking Company Ltd bank building is now somewhat different, and I had wondered when it was re-modeled, the ground floor banking hall being extended towards the street marginally, and flush with the adjacent buildings.

The building ground floor is now occupied by The BookCafe.

I have to say that it looks very pleasant and comfortable,
but living so nearby I rarely frequent local restaurants
 and cafes, it seems an extravagance to me when I can
boil the kettle at home !

After I sent a link to my blog to Lisa at BookCafe, she too wondered about the extension, so I told her I would find out. Sure enough the excellent Derby Local Studies Library quickly came up with the answer. The remodeling was done circa 1926 at the order of Westminster Bank Ltd to a design by T.H. Thorpe R.I.B.A. of Derby.

Derby and Derbyshire Banking Company Ltd had been acquired by  Parr's Bank Ltd circa 1897, which in turn merged with London & Westminster Bank Ltd, later known as Westminster Bank Ltd from 1923.

The  1924 plans and below the 1926 architect's letter to the Derby Borough Surveyor