Posts Tagged ‘mid 20th century’


May 15, 2015

This is an example of how the museum blog works for us.

About a fortnight ago we published an item about a tin of mustard ointment.

Jim, in Easterton, saw it and thought, ‘I’ve got a tin a bit like that – and I can guarantee its local provenance”.

This tin is now a part of the Market Lavington Museum collection and it is a tin of Vaseline.

Chesebrough vaseline

Chesebrough Vaseline

Almost inevitably, the tin has seen better days but we can see it is petroleum jelly produced by Chesebrough Manufacturing Co. Ltd.

Robert Chesebrough was the inventor and first producer of petroleum jelly and he invented the name Vaseline for it. He set up his company, in the USA in 1875 and through dint of hard work built up a huge and worldwide market for his product. It is very hard to date the tin but in 1955 the company became Chesebrough Ponds and that name quickly appeared on their products. The tin is at least 60 years old.

Interestingly although the tin clearly says London, in small writing around the tin it tells us that the product was refined in U.S.A.


Refined in U.S.A.

And now the local provenance. Jim knows that this tin had been in the shop operated by his uncle, Harry Hobbs. Harry had a grocery store almost immediately opposite The Green Dragon pub. We have, in the past, seen quite a few of the large product advertisements which Harry had.

In fact the Vaseline was unsold when Harry gave up his shop and several tins were given to Jim who found the product very useful for engineering purposes.

Harry was given the shop by his father in law after a serious accident left him in a state where he was told he wouldn’t walk again. This was in the early 1930s. In fact that medical advice was wrong and Harry was able to lead a very full, active and long life.

The extra issues point to a twenty year span for the origin of our tin – from the mid-1930s to the mid-1950s.

Thanks, Jim, for another interesting addition to our collection.


Nasty Stuff

April 24, 2015

We suppose it is almost inevitable that in amongst our medical items at Market Lavington Museum we’ll have some nasty stuff. Coramine certainly falls in that bracket.

Coramine bottle at Market Lavington Museum

Coramine bottle at Market Lavington Museum

Apparently this was widely used in the mid twentieth century as a respiratory and circulatory stimulant. This bottle clearly says not suitable for injection and gives a dose of 1 to 2 millilitres.

This bottle was marketed by CIBA based in Horsham in Sussex.

This substance has been linked with murders, Hitler, and sports stars getting banned for using it. Apparently it is still available in some countries.

At least we can like the little dropper bottle which can be rotated to line up with the bulges in the neck of the bottle to allow drops of the contents to be delivered.

Our bottle is, of course, empty.

A skirt marker

December 28, 2014

The items that arrive at a museum are varied and wonderful. This one (there is a part missing) has recently been given. It was, no doubt, deemed very useful in its day. Indeed, we believe similar items can still be purchased.

A Singer skirt marker at Market Lavington Museum

A Singer skirt marker at Market Lavington Museum

It is, as we can see a skirt marker produced by the Singer manufacturing Company. The device enabled dressmakers to get a straight hem line at the height they required on any dress or skirt they might make.

Inside the box there is a heavy metal base.

The base

The base

The base has a slot in it. The ruler (the missing part) fitted into this. The other part, the marker could slide up or down the ruler to the height required by the dressmaker. And here is that marker.

The marker

The marker

The red pot contains chalk dust and on the right side of it is the slot the ruler goes through. The white piece on top of the pot is the sprayer which can produce a horizontal line of chalk dust when the squeezy bulb is pressed.

So the dressmaker puts on her unhemmed skirt, stands next to the device and turns around gently squeezing the bulb. A line of chalk dust will be deposited on the skirt to mark where the hem line is wanted.

We think this dates from the mid-20th century and was used by a High Street resident of Market Lavington.

Does anyone have the ruler that goes with this?

Life in the balance.

December 19, 2014


Yes there is plenty of life in this spring balance.

Salter Model 3 pocket weighing scales at Market Lavington Museum

Salter Model 3 pocket weighing scales at Market Lavington Museum

This is quite a hefty little beast. It can weigh up to 25 pounds weight/ That’s in the region of 12 bags of sugar so these are no lightweight scales. Officially they are the number 3 model of pocket scales. Don’t look for accuracy. The divisions are each half a pound in size.

They are mid 20th century and made by Salter – hugely well known makers of weighing scales. It is hard to know just what a householder wanted such a balance for. These days people have similar devices to weigh luggage to make sure they are in line with aeroplane rules but back then it was much more likely to have been for weighing garden produce. These scales are usually on display in our kitchen room at the museum.

The scales belonged to a householder (and gardener) on White Street in Market Lavington.


A knitting pattern

December 9, 2014

An old knitting pattern may not seem to be a particularly museum worthy item – but this one, recently donated, has a retailer’s name on it which gives it its real local provenance.

Knitting pattern sold at Mrs McKinstry's shop in Market Lavington

Knitting pattern sold at Mrs McKinstry’s shop in Market Lavington

We believe this knitting pattern dates from the mid twentieth century and it was clearly being sold by J R McKinstry, Draper, of Market Lavington. Interesting to note it cost just 6d.

Mrs McKinstry had the corner shop – on the corner of High Street and White Street. This shop had seen many uses over the years. Mr Walton had his drapery department there.  This became Mr Hayball’s shop during and after World War Two. Then for a short while, Mr Good sold motorbikes from the shop before it reverted to a drapery business with Mrs McKinstry. She passed the business on to a Mrs Saunders who was there in the mid-70s and for a long time now the shop has been Gemini – the hairdressers.

Now we know almost nothing about Mrs McKinstry.  A 1966 directory lists A McKinstry as living at The Studio on High Street. This had been the Burgess’s photographic shop and it had still been in the occupation of a Burgess for the 1964 electoral roll.

Perhaps someone out there could tell us more about Mrs McKinstry and her shop – please!

A baby milk spoon

March 16, 2014

Mother’s milk is usually deemed best for babies, but for some alternatives may be needed and there are plenty of commercial firms who fill the need with formula milk powders. One such company – known for generations – is Cow and Gate. That company had origins as long ago as 1771 when the Gates family opened a grocery store in Guildford. The Gates family turned their hand to milk drying and this became big business – a business involving the cow and the Gates. It was 1929 when the name Cow and Gate became the company name.

At Market Lavington Museum we have a small measuring spoon presumably given by Cow and Gate to aid reasonably accurate measurement. When mixing milk it is important to get the right amount of powder to liquid. Too little powder will mean baby doesn’t get enough of the growth giving ingredients but too much is worse, for the thick liquid doesn’t flow and baby tends to get very little before being worn out by the effort of trying.

Here is our spoon.

Mid 20th century baby milk measure at Market Lavington Museum

Mid 20th century baby milk measure at Market Lavington Museum

This spoon was another of the items which our founder at the museum, Peggy Gye, bought at a jumble sale in the village. It dates from the mid-20th century and is thus about 70 years old now.

The shape and light made it a problem for us to read the writing on a photo, so we resorted to taking the underside of the spoon where the writing is, of course, reversed. But we can digitally reverse the image so it looks right.

The writing embossed in the spoon - made readable digitally

The writing embossed in the spoon – made readable digitally

Obviously it says Cow and Gate in large letters and then the advice that for a full measure you fill to the brim and for a half measure you fill to a line.

From the underside we can see this is a cheaply made item pressed out of tin plate with edges crimped over for safety.

A feather duster

January 29, 2014

Think of a feather duster and maybe you think of Ken Dodd with his multi coloured tickling sticks. But here at Market Lavington Museum we think of a rather more sombre looking item which really is made of feathers.

Mid-20th century feather duster at Market Lavington Museum

Mid-20th century feather duster at Market Lavington Museum

We have this item dated as mid-20th century – which could take it into the Ken Dodd era for his first professional show was given in 1954.

This feather duster is, as mentioned, made of bird feathers. Can anyone tell us what bird they came from?

Can you identify the feathers?

Can you identify the feathers?

This item has been at the museum since we opened in 1985.

Under the floorboards – again

May 5, 2013

Today we are looking at an item found under floorboards – another chance to plug a favourite web site at – but that site is not connected with Market Lavington or Easterton.

Today’s item is, however for it was found during renovations at the former Volunteer Arms in the 1970s.

Matchbox found during 1970s renovations at The Volunteer Arms in Market Lavington

Matchbox found during 1970s renovations at The Volunteer Arms in Market Lavington

It’s a rather battered box of matches of the wax variety. Somebody, at some long distant time, has tried to mend the box with sellotape – useful stuff, of course, but not for use on precious items. The matches were of a variety called Springflap. This name referred to the box described on as ‘a type of matchbox where, when the inner box is pulled from the outer box with one open end, and a flap energised by an elastic band flips out such that the inner box can be returned by flipping back the flap.’

The back of the box is decorated with a picture which looks to be of a Dutch scene.

Dutch scene on the back of the box

Dutch scene on the back of the box

It’s a real shame about the sellotape!

The matches themselves are still with the box. They are wax matches – almost like miniature candles with a striking head.

The small wax matches inside the box

The small wax matches inside the box

We are not experts on matches but we think these date from the mid-20th century.