Posts Tagged ‘clay’

Clay marbles

January 30, 2016

Here we have yet another ‘found under the floorboards’ collection from 21 Church Street. 2015 was the year of ‘Lost and Found’ at the museum as we featured metal detector and other finds dug up in our parish. 2016 seems to have started with a similar theme.

At the moment, five very nice clay marbles have been located under floorboards. Bob, who lives there and is doing the renovation work expects there to be more.

Clay marbles found under the floorboards at 21 Church Street

Clay marbles found under the floorboards at 21 Church Street

As can be seen, these marbles vary in size a little. The central one appears to be of a different material.

Marbles is a truly ancient and world-wide game. Marbles have been found in archaeology sites all over the world, dating back thousands of years. Early marbles are thought to have been naturally made. Mass production of clay marbles began in the 1890s. Prior to that they had been hand-made, one at a time. It was mass production that made marbles very affordable.

These days, of course, ordinary marbles are mass produced in glass with art marbles being hand made.

Our curator, who’d have been a marbles player in the 1950s doesn’t recall seeing clay marbles in use. ‘It was all glass marbles’, he says. So we rather assume these marbles probably date from before World War Two. They are possibly 19th century, but it is more likely that some poor lads, possibly in the Hopkins family for they occupied 21 Church Street, lost these marbles, irretrievably at the time, in the early years of the 20th century.

These are lovely items to add to our burgeoning ‘Lost and Found’ collection.

Somebody lost their marbles

April 20, 2014

Marbles are truly ancient toys. They have been found in the ashes of Pompeii which means the Romans used them more than 2000 years ago.

Mass production of clay marbles began in 1884 but it isn’t always possible to tell if such clay marbles are from the era of mass production, or from the era of one at a time making.

However, we do think that a couple of clay marbles that we have at Market Lavington Museum do date from the nineteenth century. Here is one of them.

One of two 19th century clay marbles found during renovations at the former Volunteer Arms.

One of two 19th century clay marbles found during renovations at the former Volunteer Arms.

Being a marble, the size is about 1 centimetre across.

We do not know who lost these marbles, but we do know they were found during renovations at the old Volunteer Arms pub on Church Street. Perhaps marbles was played as a pub game, out in the yard or maybe these toys belonged to family who lived there. For much of the nineteenth century this was a branch of the Potter family. They certainly didn’t lose their marbles in any other sense.

A clay pipe

July 12, 2013

These days smoking is regarded as a self destructive and antisocial habit but it wasn’t always so. Until fairly recently smoking was considered normal amongst men and many thought it beneficial to health. Of course, we now know that was a mistaken belief but relics of smoking are often found and we have several at Market Lavington Museum.

Clay pipes were very common items. There will be few local gardeners who have not turned up lengths of stem as they have worked their plots. Indeed, a few days ago a length of stem was left just outside the museum. Someone had found it and deemed it interesting enough to leave for us. If that person could identify where it was found, it would be more interesting to us.

This length, complete with broken bowl, was found in 1990 and given to the museum.

Clay pipe with bowl found at Palm Hose, market Lavington,

Clay pipe with bowl found at Palm Hose, market Lavington,

We think this one dates from about 1865 – certainly between 1850 and 1880. It was found in a wall crevice at Palm House on High Street, Market Lavington.

More recently, other pipes were found in a wall crevice at 13 High Street which was once the home of Alf Burgess, the photographer. You can click here to read about one of those pipes.

We wonder if the presence of old clay pipes in walls is just chance or whether they were placed in walls for some ritual or superstitious reason.

Any thoughts?