Objects & Instruments
19th-Century Chinese Pharmacy Sign
An attractive mid-19th century Chinese pharmacy sign advertising deer musk and turtle-based medications. The wooden sign is carved and lacquered in red and black, and features the original, decorative iron handle.
China, [circa 1850].
Carved wooden hanging sign (67 x 16 cm). Lacquered and with the original decorative iron handle. Some wear, particularly at the ends and sides, and peeling of the lacquer across the face, some rusting of the iron handle which is still strong.
Late Georgian Hairwork Memorial Brooch
During the first half of the 19th century, hairwork was a popular way to both mourn the dead and to commemorate friendships and family connections with the living. A largely female workforce specialised in preparing hair for brooches, pendants, and bracelets. In some cases hair from two or more individuals was braided together, in others the hair was arranged decoratively or used to create elaborate sentimental images. This is a particularly nice example of the art, mounted in 14-18k gold and dating from the first decades of the 19th century. The hair clipping has been fanned and curled into an elegant wave shape with a tiny seed pearl “clasp” at the base, and the reverse is monogrammed “AB”.
Britain, early 19th century.
Rectangular brooch in gold with scrolling foliate surround, the woven hair and seed pearl panel glazed, engraved monogram “AB” to the reverse. 2.5 x 1.5 cm. All original. Localised scratches to the reverse, minor wear commensurate with age. Very good condition.
Salter | Letter Scale
- An attractive 1960s Salter scale for weighing letters and calculating correct postage. The letter was attached by the clip at the bottom, which pulled on a spring to move the pointer and indicate the number of ounces. Postage rates are listed on the back.
- Salter, 1960s. 110 x 25 mm. Spring letter scale in excellent working condition with some mild toning to the price list on the rear.
Schmid, Bastian | Vergleichende Anatomie der Wirbeltiere: Die Zauneidechse. Lacerta agilis.
Uncommon, early-20th century anatomical relief of the European lizard species Lacerta agilis (the sand lizard). The publisher’s archive copy, in excellent condition in the original box.
This relief was one of a series produced for schools, Vergleichende Anatomie der Wirbeltiere (Comparative Anatomy of the Vertebrates), designed by the German behavioural scientist and educational writer Bastian Schmid (1870-1944) for the major educational publisher J. F. Schreiber. The printed paper label on the back gives the names of the lizards’ body parts and also introduces the diagram, “In the lizard, the anatomical character of the reptiles is expressed in a clear manner. Therefore, a representative of this group, namely our well-known sand lizard, is presented as the fourth type in this series Comparative Anatomy of the Vertebrates...”.
[Comparative Anatomy of the Vertebrates: Sand Lizard. Lacerta agilis.]. Munich: J. F. Schreiber, Early 20th-century.
Painted anatomical relief display in wooden frame (240 x 302 mm). Printed paper label to the rear. Housed in the original box with the stamp of the publisher’s archive and two handwritten labels - one giving the name of the display and the other reading “F22”. Also with the original tissue-covered cotton insert to protect the relief. Some minor spots and scuffs to the frame. Slight damage to the paper backing of the frame not affecting the its integrity. Some wear to the box. Excellent condition.
Schmid, Bastian | Vergleichende Anatomie der Wirbeltiere: Rana esculenta. Wasserfrosch
Uncommon, early-20th century anatomical relief of the European frog species Rana esculenta (the common European water frog, or green frog). The publisher’s archive copy, in excellent condition in the original box.
This relief was one of a series produced for schools, Vergleichende Anatomie der Wirbeltiere (Comparative Anatomy of the Vertebrates), designed by the German behavioural scientist and educational writer Bastian Schmid (1870-1944) for the major educational publisher J. F. Schreiber. The printed paper label on the back gives the names of the frogs’ body parts and also introduces the diagram, “This relief is the second in the series Comparative Anatomy of the Vertebrates and, like the Fish, is intended to be useful both for theoretical instruction and for biological exercises in higher schools. To the left a female, on the right a male animal, both natural size with the brain and spinal cord enlarged. In the female we see the entire intestines, the respiratory system, the heart with its anterior chambers, the aortic arch...”
[Comparative Anatomy of the Vertebrates: Rana esculenta. Water Frog.]. Munich: J. F. Schreiber, Early 20th-century.
Painted anatomical relief display in wooden frame (240 x 302 mm). Printed paper label to the rear. Housed in the original box with the stamp of the publisher’s archive and two handwritten labels - one giving the name of the display and the other reading “F21”. Also with the original tissue-covered cotton insert to protect the relief. A few very minor scratches and spots to the frame. There is some wear to the box and the tissue covering for the cotton padding is torn. Excellent condition.
[Art Nouveau] | Art Nouveau Floral Desk Seal
A lovely Art Nouveau desk seal in carved boxwood depicting a bouquet of flowers.
Carved boxwood desk seal, circa 1900. 850 x 350mm. No monogram or device to the base. A couple of very minor nicks in the wood, slight wear at the base. Excellent condition.
[Masudaya] Modern Toys | Distant Early Warning Radar Station
A remarkable relic of the Cold War, this interactive tin toy allowed a child to pretend that they were manning a distant early warning station with a radar “scope” showing the silhouette of a moving plane, as well as a rotating radar dish and blinking lights. It was made by the famed Masudaya firm of Tokyo, which was founded in 1923 and became the leading producer of battery and mechanical-operated toys during the post-war period (fabtintoys.com). This toy has been tested and is only partially functional, with two of the lights and the rotating wheel of plane silhouettes not working at present, possibly due to loose connections. it is nevertheless a lovely example, and rare in the original box with the paper signal key, as here.
Though early warning radar systems had been in use since Britain’s deployment of Chain Home in 1938, the post-war threat of nuclear bombers led to the development of increasingly sophisticated long-range systems, particularly to monitor activity over the Arctic. The most successful of these was the DEW Line, which was constructed primarily in Canada’s far north, with additional stations in Alaska, Greenland, and Iceland. It went on-line in 1957 but quickly became semi-obsolete as the nuclear threat shifted from bombers to ICBMs, though it continued to operate until the early 1990s to provide an early warning of airborne invasion forces that might have proceeded a missile strike by several hours. The militarisation of the Canadian Arctic had significant effects on Canadian politics, and resulted in increased government interference in the lives of the Inuit as well as serious environmental damage.
This toy was probably inspired by DEW, and it might be a coincidence, but the illustration on the box looks remarkably similar to a 1955 ad in Time magazine extolling Raytheon’s role in designing and manufacturing the radar for that undertaking. Though the toy is undated it was probably sold in the late 1950s or early 1960s, given the short period during which distant early warning radar was of military significance. Work at these stations would have involved fairly dull duties, monitoring radar screens for the start of World War III in an isolated and harsh environment, and it’s strangely charming that someone chose to produce a colourful toy based on what must have been one of the more demoralising jobs in the Air Force.
...Battery operated. With revolving radar scope, blinking warning lights, telegraph key and light blinker. Japan: [Masudaya] Modern Toys, [c. 1960].
Enamelled tin toy, approximately 19.5 x 12 x 14cm. Opaque backlit “scope” with moving airplane silhouette on the interior, red and green lights, red signal key button, and on/off button. With the detachable beacon tower in tin with red light, the plastic radar dish, and the paper with signal key in morse code. The battery compartment accommodates two D batteries. All together in the original card box (20.5 x 14 x 13cm). Price of 39/6’ in ink to the box lid. Some scuffs and wear commensurate with use, some loss of the green and red paint from the lightbulbs, occasional tiny spots to the tin, on/off button slightly cracked, morse code card torn at the top where there was originally a string, light wear and some creasing and toning of the box. This toy has been tested and is only partially functional, possibly due to loose connections. Both the red light on the body and the light at the top of the tower are not working, and the interior wheel with airplane silhouettes does not rotate. The “morse code” buzzzer works, as does the green light and the backlight. A very good example.