Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Curious Curator: Adelaide's Scrapbook and her file on the Kerby Family (for Remembrance Day)

We are fortunate to have several scrapbooks that belonged to Adelaide McLaughlin in our collection. These are truly magical places and I always discover something new and interesting each time I take a look through.  Contrary to what I would have thought Adelaide's scrapbooks would look like,
perfect and well placed mementos, they are actually filled with newspapers, and articles, jammed in between the pages, awaiting a quiet moment to organise, a moment which never did occur.

Adelaide definitely enjoyed collecting scraps and preserving them. I think she and I would have gotten along tremendously! I often find cards or slips of paper in the pages of books, or notes to herself or someone else here and there, in her sewing basket, in a drawer, etc.

Did you know that the first serial scrapbook was introduced in 1825? Did you know that Mark Twain made a fortune with his patented invention, a scrapbook with pre-glued pages in 1872? He was able to tap into the huge  market of middle and upper class women and their love affair with scrapbooks, especially scrapbooks with published themes, before photography was added, with just newspaper articles, poems, love notes, etc.  Did you know one of the most prolific scrap bookers was Thomas Jefferson, who created as series of albums of newspaper clippings all about his own presidency?

This week while reviewing her mementos on the Chrysanthemum Teas I took to her scrapbooks and came across an interesting "fonds" (collection originating from one source) of the Kerby Family. Among this small parcel, clipped together, are letters, and newspaper clippings. I would like to explore these with you.

The first is a letter to Adelaide from Rev. George W Kerby, March 31, 1939. They chat about many subjects, but for the purpose of today, I will limit the references to the story we are weaving. Rev. Kerby begins with his happiness about the receipt of Adelaide's letter, however as the letter progresses he chats about his sons departure from Shanghai to England to France, right side of page. When one reflects on the date, March 1939, we know how things begin to progress in Western Europe by September of that same year, the outbreak of WWII.

In the second letter, dated, September 20, 1940, Kerby chats about his son and losses in France, and the grandson who is just shy of 18

The third letter discusses many points, here is the third and final page of this letter to Adelaide, from George Kerby, to the right.  The most fitting quote is this one " these are most anxious times for us all, for Canada and the Empire, and for the world for that matter".

It becomes clear while reading the one side of this conversation that the two have a wonderful friendship and the creation of this collection within Adelaide's scrapbook doesn't surprise me. In the second letter, George thanks Adelaide "for your kindly reference to my birthday, and also for the little poem which I greatly enjoyed and had never seen before"

The rest of the little collection clipped together is of further interest, and is essentially Adelaide, documenting the service life of George Kerby's grandson, Harold.

The collection regarding Harold begins with a copy of a letter he wrote to his parents in July of 1941. I am including the full item to the left. Prior to writing this blog, I checked with a few military friends of mine about their feelings on the ethics of including the full letter.  It was agreed that because of the nature of my blog, the letter, was being used to tell Harold's story, and therefore in good taste.

Along with the letters are newspaper clippings about Harold's RCAF career on the European Front. The earliest clipping, 1940, is about Harold being promoted to Wing Commander, and in charge of the 400th squadron.

To follow more of his career check out this: Oshawa Library RCAF Memories Scrapbook

The next clipping is one from September 2, 1943, where Wing Com. Harold Kerby is listed as missing. If you read the article, Kerby went missing on July 29th, but due to war censorship it was not allowed to be made public until early September. (clipping below)

The final clipping, below, from the collection is the one that might be anticipated and dates from November 9, 1943 where Kerby is "believed killed" via information from the International Red Cross. W/C Kerby was killed on a mission over Hamburg, Germany on July 29/30, 1943. His aircraft was intercepted by a night flier and shot down, killing four of the five on board.

Harold Kerby is buried in Hamburg Cemetery.

Missing Notification

Killed in Action Notification


Thank you to Sgt (Ret’d) Anthony R. Beresford, CD for his assistance with this blog entry and subsequent info about Kerby.


Thursday, 29 October 2015

Curious Curator: Protectograph Cheque Writer

According to the 2010 US Federal Reserve Payment Study, people write 24.4 billion cheques each year, either personal or for business related purposes.

The advent of cheques emerged as it became recognised that the carrying of large amounts of cash was troublesome, physically cumbersome, and security wise. Historians believe that cheques, as we know them, grew more prominent in the 1500s, originating in Holland, when Amsterdam grew into a major trading centre. Although cheques as a concept, presenting a banker with a document from a third party to receive money, can be traced to India, 321 BC and the adesha, merchants using letters of credit as payment.
Within our collection is a cheque writer that was used by the secretarial staff of the McLaughlin Family, when the social and business secretary's who worked in the alcove, the secretary's office, outside of the Billiard Room, would have been issuing cheques.  Introduced in 1913, our model was advertised by the GW Todd Company from 1913 to 1930. GW Todd products were the best known cheque protectors in the early 1900s. Located in Rochester, New York,
GW Todd Company had a sales offices in Toronto through GV Purves.

 It is widely believed that the word cheque originated in England in the 1700s, when serial numbers were applied to papers as a method of keeping track or in check. It is in 1717, that the Bank of England begins to use pre-printed forms, drafts, to prevent fraud.

It is not until 1959 that a standard was introduced with machine readable characters, so the "protectograph" was the go to method to prevent fraud in the early 20th century. Note how the ad to the left markets itself, "writes the amount in dollar and cents to the penny, in two vivid colours...cheque raising is a very real danger to every businessman..."

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Curious Curator: Royal Worcester Set

Happy 100th Birthday to our Royal Worcester set in the collection!

This set is often used on the Breakfast Room table at Parkwood, and we thought we would give it a centennial birthday treat by highlighting it with a blog entry.

This hand painted enamel set, is from 1915. It is registered as 645537, pattern c897, English Bone China.

Royal Worcester was found in 1751 by a group of English businessmen. Dr. John Wall, and apothecary owner William Davis,  discovered a method of making a porcelain material, persuading a group of thirteen local businessmen to back their discovery with an investment in a new factory at Warmstry House, on the banks of the River Severn as the Worcester Tonquin Manufacture.  This new porcelain product out-shone the others because, "they obtained licences to mine soapstone in Cornwall and worcester soapstone porcelain did not crack when boiling water was poured into it; giving worcester a significant advantage over other producers."   Increased tea consumption in the 1760’s created a huge demand for teawares, bringing prosperity to the Worcester factory, especially since the porcelain did not crack under the heat of tea. The company was awarded the royal warrant in 1789.
Worcester played a major role in the development of the English porcelain tradition, going through several name changes over the years and merging or taking over other manufacturers, Worcester are now known as Royal Worcester Porcelain Co.

In 1976, Royal Worcester and Spode merge, today being called Royal Worcester and Spode.

 pattern detailing


floral close up