Monday, 27 March 2017

Our family's box of curios

I mentioned our family's box of curios - a mini "cabinet of curiosities" - in an earlier blog post [1]. The objects in the box fascinated me as a child and provided a connection to exotic parts of the World, far removed from my insular life, but the only contents I could recall were a tiger's claw and some hairs from a giraffe's tail. That may have been because, even as a young child, I had a fascination with Natural History.

Last Wednesday, I visited Torquay Museum to give a talk about Philip Henry Gosse and during the previous evening I was able to visit my brother David who still lives in Paignton, our home town. When reading the blog post [1], he had remembered the box of curios and was sure that it had been stored in the loft of his house after we emptied the contents of our family home during the clear-out after my father died nearly fifty years ago. Why the box was selected to be saved when much else was thrown out was not clear to either of us, but much searching in the loft of David's house didn't turn it up and we left it at that. Then, by looking in another place, the box was found and David was able to show it to me last week. Its contents are shown below.

There was the tiger claw and a label mentioning the hair from a giraffe's tail (I'm sure that there were at least three, all having now disappeared). The other curios were a pipe, two combs, two wooden spoons and a ring with plastic "charms" attached by woven threads. The origins of all the artefacts remain a mystery, but it was good to know that most of the contents of the box of curios were still there. When I was very young, they were my introduction to an interest in the fascinating objects found in Museums and similar collections.

The items are shown in more detail below (photographs by David Wotton) – can anyone provide information on these artefacts?

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