Dents Coronation Glove Team

web Dents Glove Team (c) Museums WorcestershireThis photograph shows the team at the Dents glove factory in Worcester who made the glove worn by Queen Elizabeth II at her coronation ceremony in 1953.
As part of the coronation ceremony, the British monarch wears one glove on their right hand – the hand that holds the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross, part of the Crown Jewels made in 1661 for Charles II coronation. During the ceremony, the glove is removed and the Coronation Ring is put onto the right ring finger. The ring, created in 1831 for William IV’s coronation, is traditionally called The Wedding Ring of England.
It was a very special commission for the Dents team to be asked to make the glove and it featured exquisite gold embroidery on white leather.
Dents had been an important part of Worcester’s history, opening their first factory in 1777 and continuing making gloves in the city until 1968. The peak of the glove-making industry was between 1790 and 1820, when half of all British gloves were made in Worcester.

Electrotype of Oliver Cromwell

web Oliver Cromwell Lord Protector (c) Museums WorcestershireAn electrotype is a replica of a coin or medal which is made in two parts, the obverse (the ‘heads’ side of the coin with the portrait or main design) and the reverse (the ‘tails’ side of the coin), produced through a process which is like silver-plating. The size and weight of the copy differs a little from the original but the copy is otherwise a faithful one.
Electrotypes can be really useful where a museum or collection does not hold the original of a coin or medal that is especially relevant and important to them or their local area. These two electrotypes of medals associated with Oliver Cromwell are a case in point. The stories of the English Civil War and the career of Oliver Cromwell are intertwined with the history of Worcester and its surrounding county.
The museum holds electrotype copies of two medals associated with Cromwell: the Lord Protector Medal of 1653, originally struck in gold and silver, and the Death Medal of 1658, taken from an original struck in gold. Cromwell died on 3 September 1658; seven years to the day after his victory at the Battle of Worcester. Originals of both of these medals are extremely rare and without electrotype copies examples would not be available in public collections in our county.
These pieces are from a large collection of electrotypes in the collection of Worcester City Museum that includes copies of coins and medals dating from the time of the Ancient Greeks to the nineteenth century. They were produced at some time in the nineteenth century and for decades the entire collection was displayed in black and gold frames lined with purple velvet, around the balcony of the City Museum.

 

Thanks to Garston Phillips for his knowledge about this object.

The Reading Waggon

web Reading waggon (c) Museums WorcestershireThis Gypsy Vardo or caravan was found in a garden in Drakes Broughton, near Pershore. It was bought by Worcestershire County Museum in the early 1960s and was later restored.

The type of design acquired its name from the principal makers of this style, Duntons, who traded in Reading from 1884 to 1921. They are also known as Kite waggons because of the profile characterised by tall back wheels, outward sloping sides, high-arched roof and lavish decoration.

The interior and exterior of this waggon are very luxurious. Much of the detailing on the exterior is finished in gold leaf. The many original features include shafts, steps, a cratch (the place where cooking pots were stored) and amber glass grab handles.

Very few original waggons remain. Time and weather have taken their toll on structures made of canvas. The old Romany burial ritual of destroying a person’s possessions and setting fire to the waggon on their death has also reduced the number still in existence. The Worcestershire County Museum in Hartlebury is one of the few places in the country where so many varied types of Gypsy waggon can be viewed together making this collection an important part of English history.

 

Thanks to Anita Blythe and Steve Smith for their research into this collection.

Victorian Fashion Magazines

web Young Ladies Journal (c) Museums Worcestershire
We think of fashion magazines as an accessory for the modern woman, but in fact they really became a craze in the Victorian period.

Over 100,000 different periodicals started during the nineteenth century, some of which have continued as academic journals like the Lancet (started 1823). Others that were much more light-hearted have still managed to survive such as the humorous Titbits, founded in 1881 and mentioned in George Orwell’s book Animal Farm.

The first women’s fashion magazine was probably Ladies Mercury, first published in 1693. By 1875, the date of this Young Ladies Journal in the Worcester City museum collection, there were scores of periodicals aimed at fashionable women.

The very detailed illustrations in this magazine gave the young Victorian woman, probably on the threshold of marriage, a very clear idea of how to behave and how to dress in polite society. The publisher had close relationships with outfitters and silk suppliers, not unlike today’s magazine reliance on the advertising of high fashion brands.

A Will of His Own, 1874 by John Dawson Watson

web Watson Mother and Child (c) Museums WorcestershireJohn Dawson Watson was a painter and illustrator of genre scenes and books such as The Pilgrim’s Progress and the Arabian Nights. The Pall Mall Art critic in 1865 said of Watson, ‘We have no young painter who shows a more decided power of informing his figures with intention’.

The child in the appropriately named A Will of His Own, thrusting an angry hand into his mother’s face in the frenzy of red-faced tantrum, certainly shows the intention of being naughty!

This watercolour comes from the Sale Bequest collection. Reverend and Mrs Sale of Holt Rectory donated their valuable collection of watercolours to the nation, many of which were left to the British Museum. However, due to a lack of space at the time a large number of these fine paintings were bequeathed to the Victoria Institute, which one hundred years after the original donation is now the Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum.

Palaeolithic cave floor

web Cave Floor (c) Museums WorcestershireThis section of a cave floor from Worcester City’s collection was excavated in the 1860s, most likely, in the town of Les Eyzies in the French Dordogne. It belongs to a cave which was occupied during the Upper Palaeolithic, between 17,000 to 12,000 years ago.

Henry Christy, an English banker and ethnologist and Édouard Lartet, a French palaeontologist began working in a cave called Grotte des Eyzies in 1863 at a time of enormous change in the study of early man.

Evidence had been mounting throughout the eighteenth century that the Earth was incredibly old, much older than the 6,000 years that Bishop Ussher had calculated from his bible studies. By the 1840s, scientists working in the Alps had come to realise that rock and gravel deposits had not been laid down by Noah’s great flood but instead by glaciers and icecaps which covered much of Europe and which we now call Ice Ages.

At the time the period was simply called the reindeer age, and the men and women who lived alongside them, the reindeer hunters. Reindeer bones, usually associated with cold climates, were being found on excavations across Southern Europe, including the one that our cave floor was removed from.

The tools that Christy and Lartet found in the Dordogne and specimens of cave floor were sent to museums all over the world, and this object is currently being worked on as part of a review into Worcester City Museum’s Pleistocene collection.

Lartet and Christy went on to make discoveries that were ground breaking; the bones and tusks of Ice Age mammals, decorated by man with images of the animals themselves, proving that early man and these Ice Age animals did indeed once live side by side and in March 1868, the discovery of five Cro-Magnon skeletons, now recognised as the earliest known race of modern humans.

Nature Morte aux Fruits by Juan Gris

web Juan Gris (c) Museums WorcestershireThis signed lithograph print is an unexpected inclusion in Worcester City’s art collection, but a real treasure. It first came into the collection as part of the Print Loan scheme before moving to the main collection; Museums Worcestershire has an extensive set of historical items that are borrowed by schools and other learning organisations to help bring the past to life.

Juan Gris was, along with Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, a leading artist of the Cubist art movement. Gris was born in Madrid, but moved to Paris as a young man. The Paris art world at the beginning of the twentieth century was an exciting melting pot of new ideas and Gris’ friends and fellow artists included Matisse, Leger and Modigliani as well as Picasso. Gris died in 1927 aged just 40, perhaps meaning his work is slightly less known than his peers.

Nature Morte aux Fruits is a perfect example of Gris’ work with its flatness, its strong architectural shapes and its harmonious colour palate including a very typical red table cloth. The inclusion of the pears within the still life makes it an interesting comparison to other depictions of pears, some a lot more local, in the Worcester art collection.

A View of Worcester by Paul Sandby, the very copy exhibited at the 1882 Worcestershire Exhibition

Sandby printThis beautiful picture shows Worcester at an important time in its history. It had recovered from the destruction of the Civil War battles raged across the city and is starting to become a powerful industrial centre. On the left you can see the earliest Worcester porcelain works and its first bottle kiln and on the right Severn trows are hauling finished goods to Bristol, London and on to the rest of the world.

Paul Sandby was a map-maker and landscape painter who was described by his fellow artist Gainsborough as the best for ‘real views from nature in this country’. He made his name first as a military surveyor and then continued to travel around Britain, documenting the changing landscape in watercolour paintings. He was one of the 34 founding members of the Royal Academy in 1768.

Sanby etched a large number of his paintings and published them as prints. The 1760 original watercolour is in the collection of the Museum of Royal Worcester, and the print was published on 1 November 1778. What makes this particular print special is that its documentation tells us it was the actual copy exhibited at the 1882 Worcestershire exhibition.

Victorian achievement had invigorated the nation with pride and the Great Exhibition of 1851 at London’s Crystal Palace is considered symbolic of this national confidence. It was hugely successful in demonstrating Britain’s innovations and achievements to the world, and delighting and inspiring its six million visitors.

When the delicate matter of a £200 deficit in the budget of Worcester’s public library arose, the response of Worcestershire’s great and good was ambitious; a Great Exhibition for Worcestershire. A committee was formed of peers, MPs, artists, antiquaries and manufacturers with the unenviable task of creating this awe inspiring exhibition in six months. It opened in July 1882 at Shrub Hill Engine Works amidst much pomp and ceremony.

The county’s finest products were represented; Stourbridge glass, Kidderminster carpets, Worcester porcelain and gloves, and iron from Dudley. The fine arts section boasted old masters, contemporary painters, decorative arts and needlework with many of the exhibits coming from the country homes of the county elite. This print was lent to the exhibition by its then owner, WN Marcy of Bewdley.

The exhibition was a huge success. It enhanced Worcestershire’s reputation, delighted its visitors and encouraged and inspired the common man. Several of the exhibits were donated to the City Museum to create the first art collection and they remain in this public collection to the present day.

Museums Worcestershire is extremely grateful to Rebecca Way and to the Friends of Museums Worcestershire for their generous addition to the Worcester City museum collection.

The Childswickham Saxon Silver-Gilt Roundel

ChildswickhamThis silver-gilt roundel from the Worcestershire County collection dates from the sixth century.

It is decorated with five chip-carved spirals and four are linked as pairs sharing a common stem over a triquetra knot, the fifth balancing the design.

The roundel is pieced at the centre, so was possibly originally used as a stud. The back is plain and it is thought that the roundel was part of an inlay on a high quality box. The other drilled holes were made later and may be to enable the object to be worn as a piece of jewellery.

Thanks to David Kendrick for his research into this object.