Tag Archives: Brasso

Another Of My Horse Brasses Leaves The Kennel

Appropriate Token,Rocking Dog

Appropriate Token

A good while ago I bought a stash of horse brasses in a local charity shop. I expect the previous owner was simply bored of getting the Brasso out to polish them. A £5 note bought the heavy load and I had no cunning plan for them. As a notorious hoarder I knew they’d come in useful one day.

Horse brasses have ancient origins. In Roman times horses had harnesses that featured brasses, though they were in fact made from Bronze and called phalerae. In Great Britain even before the 12th century, horses had harnesses embellished with brasses. They were treated as good luck charms and in addition were a sign of status. The mid 19th century saw the height of horse brass popularity especially for Shire and parade horses. The love of embellishing harnesses continued until the demise of Dray horses.

Back to my own stash, last year a piggy brass accompanied an invite for a meal at The Pig near Bath. The envelope was appropriately made from an archived Pig menu.

Yesterday the brasses were brought out again. After eighteen months of lying empty our village pub, The White Horse has been relaunched. What could be more appropriate for the beamed hostelry than one of the brasses. However after an extensive and tasteful refurbishment I don’t expect to see my horse brass nailed to any beam soon!

I was hoping to find a brass featuring a horse or horseshoe, but alas no. A pub with a name The Rugged Staff, The Cross Keys, The Anchor, The Bull or The Stag would have been lucky. I chose a pretty star surrounded by trefoils and added ribbons and handwritten label. Voila! another brass leaves the kennel.

Wishing The White Horse every success. There doesn’t appear to be a new website yet, but publican Alison already has The Kings Arms and Port Of Call in Bristol. I think it may be just a little bit TOO easy to stroll the 200 yards up the road away from my own kitchen!

Horse Brass Stash,Rocking Dog

Horse Brass Stash

Make An Envelope,Rocking Dog

Make An Envelope

Piggy Invite,Rocking Dog

Piggy Invite

Brass Polishing At Dawn!

Brassy Llama, Rocking Dog

Brassy Llama

With so much to deal with at the moment, I am finding that sleep doesn’t come easily. So at 5am on Wednesday I decided to do some brass polishing to see in the dawn of a new day. Sometimes it’s sewing, at times ironing, cake icing, and other times rubbish TV, but this 5 am I gave my attention to the new -old brass bed for youngest girls room.

It looks as if she’s coming home at the weekend, so the intricate scrollwork was polished with Brasso and a good sprinkling of elbow grease. The detail of this bed is simply lovely. Detailed finials, brass grapes, ostentatious swirls and of course a magnificent beast make this bed so bizarre and unique. So is the mythical animal a llama, mountain goat or deer one wonders. After 1 1/2 hours the bed took on a glow as the first bits of the dawn snuck in. After my black fingered labours I crept back into bed to seek just a little slumber.

Much later, the bed was given a deep sprung mattress and a goose feather quilt. Dressed with crisp white linen, I was finally able to lay out my latest patchwork quilt. It will lay in wait for the raw snowy winter nights when that extra snuggly layer is needed. I give each of my quilts a quote on it’s ticking underside, this one reads “The dank night is sweeping down from the sky and the setting stars incline our heads to sleep” (Virgil)

Sorrel has asked me to sew her a quilt, and I have been gathering together delicious vintage fabrics, including a heavily embroidered Arts & Crafts curtain. It will hopefully move into a house she and husband are hoping to buy in London. I think the patchwork quote will have to somehow reflect just how difficult it has been to enter the London property market (and I appreciate that they are VERY lucky). The speculative and greedy buy to let investors, the astronomical prices, the stressful open days, manipulative estate agents and surveys which flag up WW2 bomb damage have all taken their toll over the last year! Weekends looking for an affordable (!) place to live in, will fingers crossed soon be replaced with frenzied DIY and homemaking. Back to the quilt, I think it will be an after Christmas project. I will so enjoy piecing together fabrics of childhood, home, and scavenging forays. Watch this space for another Rocking Dog heirloom quilt!

An early start will have beckoned as you read this. I will have been down to the St Philips Wholesale Fruit and Flower Market to gather supplies of mistletoe and other wintry flora for a wedding arch I am frouing for a wedding on Saturday. I am excited and apprehensive in equal measure regarding the task which lies ahead- I so love working with flowers and foliage.

PS. It is with regret that I will not be attending the Vintage and Handmade Fair at Chipping Sodbury this Saturday. Life has been truly chaotic and I felt doing this event just a step too far. Sorry.

However, I am still confident that the sale at the Rocking Dog Kennel on Sunday 13th will go ahead, and I so look forward to seeing you. Please contact me if you would like further details.

Swirling Scrollwork, Rocking Dog

Swirling Scrollwork

The View!, Rocking Dog

The View!

 Lookin' Good Llama!, Rocking Dog

Lookin’ Good Llama!

Polished Sunrise, Rocking Dog

Polished Sunrise

From Folded, Rocking Dog

From Folded

..To Turned Back, Rocking Dog

..To Turned Back

Unlocking A Gladstone Bag’s Secrets.

Unlocking History, Rocking Dog

Unlocking History

At Redland Fair despite having a stall I managed to escape for a little while! In a cardboard box looking very forlorn I discovered a somewhat desiccated Gladstone bag. I was a little doubtful as to whether it could be revived, but thought i’d take a chance on it.

For a few days the bag sat sadly and patiently on the kitchen table, waiting for me to come up with a cunning renovation plan. In the end I settled on Kiwi Suede & Nubuck Foam Cleaner together with some Kiwi brown shoe polish. My Army spit and polish days came in useful and the results have been startling.

Then came the lovely brass catch, and with Brasso doing it’s magic I noticed the engraved inscription. I Googled the name and address not really expecting anything-but the little bags history literally unfolded!

This bag was almost certainly owned by Christopher Sewell, a jeweller with a shop in Berkeley Square, London. I returned to the newly polished bag to check for any stray diamonds, but alas no! During my initial search I found a fascinating news snippet from a Tasmanian newspaper reporting a London jewellery robbery at Sewell’s shop in 1913. £4,000 worth of items were taken (1,000 pieces) and the value of this hoard today would equate to more than £408,000.

Following on from this I put Christopher’s name into my Ancestry.co.uk account. With the help of public members trees (also researching a Sewell connection) I was able to gain a snapshot of his life. He was born in Uppingham, Rutland in circa 1836, the son of a farmer with 90 cows.

How he rose to live and work in one of London’s most exclusive addresses is something of a mystery. In the 1871 census he is shown to be living in Westbourne Grove and his occupation is Jeweller manager. Also living at the address is his wife and three year old son, a servant, two employees, a visitor and aunt. By the 1881 census Christopher is now widowed and living at Davies Street (the address on the brass clasp). Christopher’s son does not appear in the census but a three year old daughter does. There are two general servants together with an apprentice jeweller. An unmarried niece is listed too, and at twenty three perhaps she has the responsibility of looking after Christopher’s daughter. In 1991 Christopher is now 54 and has remarried. His daughter (Elizabeth Mabel) is now 13 and there is one servant.

Christopher Sewell died in London on 1st March 1898 at the age of 62. His widow Margaret is shown in the 1901 census to be head of the household and classed as a working jeweller. Perhaps she was was in the building in 1913 when the robbery occurred. Christopher Sewell. Ltd, Jewellers of 4 Davies Street appears in the phone book even in 1961 (Mayfair 0226). A four bedroomed flat in Davies Street recently sold for £10 million.

Eventually by 2am I had decided that I needed to stop delving into a family tree that does not belong to me! Nevertheless it has been fascinating to give a little bit of love and history back to the bag. I would love to know one more thing though, how did it end up in a tatty cardboard box at Redland Fair?

Happy Birthday Sorrel! I hope you enjoy this little bags provenance, and keep on going with a bit more spit and Kiwi! Furthermore, i’m sure you’ll love it more than any Gucci, Chanel or Prada bag. Do our menfolk realise just how low maintenance we are?!!

The gorgeous little vintage fabric purse is by the lovely Ellie Goodridge of Jelly Jam. Love it! But as they say the best presents are the ones you want to keep yourself!

Gladstone Bagged, Rocking Dog

Gladstone Bagged

Leather Graffiti, Rocking Dog

Leather Graffiti

Foxy Purse, Rocking Dog

Foxy Purse