Saturday, 22 November 2014

When we first moved into our house, there was so much to explore. My son liked looking through the various rooms but often would end up in the old workshop at the back of the house. There is an old wooden work bench there as well as a work table and cupboard which would capture the imagination of any boy. One day after a rummage through an old tin he found filled with odds and ends, he produced a funny bobble that reminded me of a pagoda.

It was a curious little thing, made of iron, which I thought was some kind of charm for a pull cord but turned out to be a seal and not just an ordinary seal, the kind a gentleman would wear at the end of a pocket watch chain. I was intrigued. Upon closer inspection, it was a bit plain for a “gentleman's” watch fob, but for me it was exciting. I ran to get the wax while my husband went to give it a good clean up so we could see exactly what the seal was. It looked like more than just someone's initials which made it all the more urgent that we find out what the seal's image was.

After some cleaning, the surface revealed a coach and horses and around the edge of the oval seal ran the inscription. It took quite a time to work out the letters, not only because the rusting had damaged the clarity of them, but also because they were, of course, written backwards. Pressing the the seal into hot wax helped us to see the image a little better but time had taken its toll on the little seal and the surface is nearly smooth and the words were still indiscernible. After peering at it under a magnifying glass for some time we discovered the inscription read: “New Diligence at the Blue Boar and George Holborn”


Fascinating! Next came the research into the name on the seal which was almost certainly an inn. One of the great things about the internet is that with a few keystrokes you are in possession of immediate information. It turns out the Blue Boar in Holborn, London, was a famous coaching inn. It was reputed to be the very place where Cromwell and Ireton intercepted papers incriminating King Charles I who was plotting against the Parliament in the 1640s.

Sadly, the Blue Boar no longer exists. My husband tells me the style of writing upon the seal is consistent with a date early in the 19th Century, which is about the time our house was built. This was also a time when it appears the Blue Boar changed hands and added “George” to the title, although according to our research, most records indicate the name was in fact “The George and Blue Boar,” rather than the other way round as engraved on the seal. The words “New Diligence” allude to the change in ownership of the inn; akin to present day signs announcing “Under new management.”

I pressed the seal into clay to show the design better.
Attempts at pressing the seal in wax were unsuccessful, sadly.

Our little seal may have been an early promotional item, provided as a memento or to remind a person to come again, similar to the pens and stationery hotels furnish today which the guests take away with them as a keepsake. Or like me, use! Whatever its original purpose, this little wax seal had quite a story to tell, wouldn't you say?

Monday, 17 November 2014

Postal Party!
In addition to my addiction love of writing letters, I am the family historian. I have been digging into my family's history since I was 14 when I first started interviewing my mother about our distant relatives. Initially, I wrote letters to various county clerks to get information and request birth and death certificates. It was a long drawn out affair, but writing letters didn't bother me, I enjoyed the process which allowed me to add to the family tree. It was exciting writing to places in Germany, Czechoslovakia, The Netherlands and several of the United States, and crossing my fingers I would get a response. Since then, the internet has opened up a new world of research, but I find that writing letters even though it takes a little longer, still yields the best information. I always include a sase to ensure a reply and I'm usually gifted with the information I requested plus a nice letter from the person who was kind enough to send my document. Even when my request can't be fulfilled, I still get a letter so it's never a total loss.

Recently, I was searching newspaper archives and found this:

The Reading Eagle, Friday, November 15, 1906, Page 5

Mrs. Ellen Yeager, 247 Jefferson Street, tendered her daughter, Minnie a birthday Postal party. The parlor and dining room were decorated with plants and chrysanthemums. she received a number of presents, among them a diamond ring and 200 postals. There were selections on the graphophone and a fine menu was served. Parlor games were enjoyed.

A Postal Party! Wow! What a great idea. I am assuming the "postals" were post cards so getting 200 of them must have made the party a huge success. I tried doing some poking around trying to find out about postal parties but sadly I couldn't find anything so I cannot enlighten you about what it entailed. I haven't given up though, I love a good mystery.

I love that my family has historically been connected with the post and I'm following tradition. If anyone out there has heard of or knows about postal parties, please get in touch!

Friday, 14 November 2014

Pretty As A Picture

It's raining here today so I have been looking through the box of clippings I use for mail art. I save anything and everything from magazines, newspapers, calendars and junk mail to recycle into mail art or collages. I didn't know what I wanted to do today, so I thought I'd just look through the box for inspiration.
I started out making some envelopes, then got bored with that and did a bit of collage work on some envelopes. I wanted to do something different, though, but what? I thought if I sifted through my ephemera box, something would come to me, it usually does, and I go happily off on a tangent creating something else. Today, I found myself looking out the window and daydreaming rather than making mail art. Just one of those days, I guess. Then I half-heartedly went back to my box of paper odds and ends and aimlessly picked through it, stopping to look at random things and then I began to look at some of the clippings a little differently.
I normally like to do image collages: butterflies, flowers, fish and that sort of thing so I save a lot of whole pages just so I can get the colours and textures I want. Oftentimes the colour on the pages inspires me to create something. Today, however, I started looking at the whole page and decided to look at things the other way around, a bit like Alice Through the Looking Glass. I took a few pages from the box and instead of cutting out bits to paste on the envelope, I put the whole page on the envelope and just cut openings for addresses. Sort of framing, you could say. I did simple things at first then got creative and used more of the pages so the envelopes would look more vivid.

I got a bit more daring then and just started gluing images that would completely cover the front of the envelope. They were colourful and I made several of those. There seemed to be some space to write the address of the person I would send the letter to and that way I wouldn't have to put a label on and interrupt the scene. I rather like these new envelopes. What do you think?