Archive | February, 2013

A Seven Legged Kitten – August 28th 1897

27 Feb

“The village of Kensal Town (Cape Colony) has achieved considerable notoriety lately by the arrival in it’s midst of a kitten born with seven legs – and, presumably, the orthodox nine lives.

Three of it’s legs are worn in front, two in the centre and two behind.The latter are shaped like those of a dog, whilst the head is of a cross nature, half cat, half dog.

The poor animal will, the “African Critic” (from which we glean our information) supposes, lead a cat and dog life during the remainder of it’s existence. It was one of a litter of six, but it’s brothers and sisters showed no malformation whatsoever.”


Cyclists and the Danger of Non-cyclists

26 Feb

“There is a matter which has long been a public grievance, and which is remidiable, and we feel sure that not even the most bigoted cyclists – and they are legion – will grumble at the remedy we would propose.

It is notorious that the majority of those who cycle about our streets are not adept riders. In fact they are, in many cases, fitter to wheel a perambulator than to career about on wheels, to the terror of all non-cyclists, as witness the many accidents that occur.

Now our remedy for this evil is one that has been adopted in Vienna, where all bicycle riders, before obtaining permission to appear in the public streets, are required to ride between boards laid on the floor without touching the sides or edges of them. At the word of command they must be able to dismount either right, left, or backward.

Until this examination is passed satisfactorily. a licence to ride on the public highway is refused. We Commend the notion most heartily to the English police.

Science Siftings – 1st May 1897

Reminds me of the old ‘Cycling Proficiency Test’ that I had to pass as a child before my parents would let me out on my bike. – Perhaps it’s time it was re-introduced.

Science Siftings Magazine – ‘Poor Teetotalers’

26 Feb

I recently aquired a number of Victorian Periodicals entitled ‘Science Siftings’, which I have found to be cram packed with interesting articles.

Published from the 1880’s through to the 1930’s, the early editions are a mine of interesting and completely useless information.

I would like to share a few over the next few weeks – Hope you enjoy them.

The following refers to “temperence” drinks, which were supposed ‘alcohol-free’ alternatives offered by the ‘Temperence League’ and other moralists at the time, who then waged war on the ‘Daemon Drink”.

Poor Teetotalers – May 1st 1897

The Liquor Licencing Laws Commission has caused some curious facts to be elicited respecting temperence drinks.

A particular kind of herb was shown to carry 11 percent of alcohol. The Magistrates would not convict the woman who sold it either. They came to the conclusion that she was not selling beer, and so she got off.

A “Blue Ribbon drink” contained close upon 3 percent of proof spirit; parsnip beer contained nearly 14 percent, which is more than is contained in ordinary public-house beer.

Proof Spirit even in larger proportions than in the Blue Ribbon drink was found in “horehound beer”, “bicycling beer”, “temperence beer” and so on. Of Ginger Beer there were three specimens, one of nearly 8 1/2 percent of proof spirit, another with 6 1/2 per cent and a third with 5 1/2 percent.

“Medical Porter” was medicated at the time of examination with about 7 percent of proof spirit. Orangeade yeilded 8 percent of proof spirit.

Dandelion stout was equally potent, and there was a “Botanic Porter” in which the proof spirit was 6 1/2 percent. These drinks were discribed as “non-intoxicating”.

My suprise is that with “normal” beer being close to 14 percent proof it is suprising that the Victorians accomplished anything at all – teetotaller or not.

Cleaning badly Tarnished Brass and Copper

2 Feb

Cleaning badly Tarnished Brass and Copper

Telford Greir and Mackay Brass & Copper Ships Lantern c1915

When faced with cleaning very badly tarnished Antique Brass and Copper items there is always the temptation to use an aggressive cleaning method, like wire wool or a Brillo Pad – Don’t make that mistake, as you will soon regret it and no doubt damage the item beyond repair.

One of the safest and well tested methods used by Antiques Dealers, is the following recipe –


1 x Cup of Plain or Self Raising Flour

1 x Cup of Vinegar

1 Cup Salt

All three measurements must be exactly the same.

Mix them together, until they become a sloppy paste.

With your hands (very messy) cover the entire item that you are cleaning with a layer of paste. This wants to be as thick as will stick, as you do not want it to dry out.

Once all areas are covered, gently cover the item in plastic to stop it drying out too much.

Check it after about 4 hours, by wiping a very small area with your finger. If it needs longer, then recover it and leave it overnight.

The following morning, clean off the paste and gently wash the item in clean soapy water until all residue has been removed. Hopefully the item will come out clean and ready for polishing.

Very heavily tarnished items (like the Lantern above did) may need a second of third application.

Once clean polish as usual.

You can also prevent further tarnishing by applying a thin layer of oil after it has been polished. Olive Oil, or WD40 will do the trick.

The Telford Greir and Mackay Brass & Copper Ships Lantern c1915 shown is available at –

Where do you get your Stuff ??

2 Feb

One of the most common questions I am asked is – ” Where do you get your stuff?”.


Obviously, no antiques and collectables dealer is going to tell you his direct sources for procuring items, otherwise he wouldn’t be in business long, but the main answer is – Through PASSION!


I like all other dealers I know, thrive on hunting down the next aquisition. I live and breath Antiques and it has been in my blood since I was a very young child, when my father used to take me down to the local “Junk Shop”, which also sold Paraffin. There he would top up on ‘Esso Blue’, while I would investigate the tottering piles of (then) junk.

There were whole piles of things just dumped in any space that could accomodate them, fresh from the latest House Clearance. Stuffed animals heads and whole Butterfly Collections pinned behind glass and hung on the walls would stare down at you. Tins of Army medals, Victorian Bird Cages, Stamp Collections, Old Uniforms, in fact everything found a home there.


At the time nobody wanted it. The term ‘Victoriana’ hadn’t been invented and in everyones eyes it was junk but not to a young boy of 8 years old. It was one of the most amazing places I had ever seen.


By the time I was 16 it was in my blood, every Saturday I would go to every “Jumble Sale” in the area and would systematically list them in order, so that I wouldn’t miss any (no mean feat when I had to get the bus). I used to come across the most amazing things and pick up some lovely items. I only wish that I had bought half the things I had seen, as now they are highly valued collectables but then, nobody wanted them.

That, unfortunately was exactly what my mother thought and I was banned from bringing anything old into the house. She couldn’t see that anything Victorian could be anything other than a ‘dust trap’. – Still I managed to get the odd item squirreled away without her seeing it.


I was also an avid reader and would devour anything I could find on Antiques at the local Library. Likewise, I never missed ‘Going for a Song’ or ‘Antiques Roadshow’ on the TV. That led on to books on Pottery and Porcelain and later, Marks Identification books, which were invaluable. Of which I built up a decent library.


So there. I had the bug and I had the passion. I lived and breathed and dreamed antiques.


Even now, I cannot pass a Charity Shop without popping in. Likewise, a Car Boot, Antiques Shop, Jumble Sale or Garage Sale will always draw me. I even attend the occasional Auction but don’t thrive on them, as I don’t get the same buzz.

I will always be under a table, or searching in the bottom of boxes, or looking where others may have missed looking because that is where you invariably find the best items.



So, here are my top tips (for those who can be bothered) –


1) Always get there Early. – It doesn’t matter whether it’s a Jumble Sale. Garage Sale, Car Boot – Always be there well before you need to be and be first in the queue.

2) Study, study, study (and this is the most important) – If you want to find the best you will need to recognise it. Read everything that you can on the subject and retain the knowledge. Once you have mastered one subject, then you can move on to another. For ‘general’ information Miller Antiques are good, as you need to ‘recognise’ items and need a very broad range. You can always dig deeper on anything that needs extra identification

3) Buyer Beware (All that Glistens) – Make sure you can tell the difference between ‘Original’ and ‘Fake’. – If you can’t, then take care and be prepared to walk away. It doesn’t matter what it is – if it is fake – don’t touch it! – Likewise, don’t buy damaged. I know it’s not always easy when you are rushing and it’s not the end of the world if it costs little but remember – Damaged never sells!

4) Go the extra mile – Make the additional effort and it could reward you. eg, no one likes going out in bad weather but it could reward you. If a Car Boot or Garage Sale is badly attended, you may have the pick of what is there.

5) Socialise – Mix with other people, chat to stall holders. They may know of something happening that you don’t, or come across something that may interest you in the future..

6) Never give up – Just because a Charity Shop or Thrift Shop has never had anything in that you liked, don’t cross it off your list. – It’s the item that they are putting out when you are not there, that could be the big one. Make sure you call as many times as you can. Just presuming that “they never have anything in” is just plain stupid – anything worth having will go immediately it is put out!

7) “If the Mountain won’t come”– Then travel – If you can’t find anything locally, them make the effort and widen your search area. It won’t be long before you find places where good things turn up.

8) Learn as you go – Everything you are touching has a ‘feel’. – Get to recognise what ‘feels’ old rather that simply looks it. (This will take a lot of time and experience but gradually it will come). Nine times out of ten, it is the ‘feel’ of an item that will bring you the good finds. You can find out later what it is and make sure you retain this knowledge for next time. –

9) Buy whay you like – that way even if you make a mistake your money won’t be wasted. Likewise, don’t buy for profit, as the likelyhood will be that you won’t make any without any knowledge of how the market works. Prices go up and down. Fashions change and what is popular now may not be in 6 months time.

10) Buy from a Reputable Source – Buying anything and everything can be fine, but there will come the time when you will want to :- Start a Collection and Specialize. –  it is only buying off an experienced and established dealer that you can positively know what you are buying. The market is flooded with fakes and forgeries and has been for hundreds of years but is more so now, especially with the growth of Internet Auction Sites. – If you are serious in collecting in a Specific Field, then firstly, make sure that you have at least a few genuine verified authentic items in your collection – Study them, Compare them, Get a ‘Feel’ for them and Learn by them. – That way at least, you will know immediately what is real and not later , when you have invested all your money.


But Most of all……Keep the PASSION!


Andrew Jackson- OldeWorlde Antiques & Collectables

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