Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Curatorial Corner - 2nd February 2011

This is the first update from the Curatorial department at STEAM and we have some exciting new objects to share with you.

We are always trying to fill gaps in our collection and acquire interesting and unique objects that allow us to tell the story of the Great Western Railway and preserve its legacy.  Railwayana auctions are always full of wonderful items and it is often the place that we will find ‘something special’.  Over the past couple of months we have bidded successfully (and unsuccessfully!) at various auctions and the items below are some of the items we won.

Cup and Saucer

The GWR had an active Hotels and Refreshments department that used all sorts of china and cutlery in its ventures.  Some of these items that have survived are more common than others, but this cup and saucer from Paddington Station is one we have not seen before. 

The cup and saucer dates from the early part of the 20th Century and was made by Grindleys Hotel Ware of Holburn, London.  It is a sturdy piece and designed for on-the-go passengers who were passing through Paddington Station – an early version of the cardboard take-away cup I suppose!

The cup and saucer can be viewed at STEAM in the Station Platform display.

Photochrom Carriage Prints

Another great object that we were lucky enough to win at auction was a mounted set of Photochrom Carriage Prints.  To find these prints in a mounted set is quite unusual.  We have some loose prints in our archive already, but this was that ‘something special’ that we couldn’t resist.

We can date the carriage prints to between 1886 and 1898.  This is when the company, Photochrom, were producing them for the GWR.   The images are actually colourised lithographs produced from black and white negatives and the GWR used these carriage prints as an early, and inexpensive, means of publicity that promoted the destinations on their network.   Photochrom was a Swiss company that had a branch in London.

West for Winter poster

The Curatorial department always has an eye for glamour and this poster definitely caught ours!  This vibrant and glamorous poster dates from the late 1930s and advertises the benefits of West Country resorts in the winter.  The artist is Raymond Sheppard, who produced a number of posters for the railways in the 1930s, 40s and 50s.

Bold, colourful and attractive images were used heavily by the GWR’s publicity department during the 1920s and 30s.  There was also strong shift towards advertising locations and activities.  This poster is modern and sophisticated and would have appealed to the masses.

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