Object Name: Triang doll house
Notes: Found in a charity shop
Comments: I have alluded to my love to dolls before, and it is not limited to 1:6 scale ones either. When I spotted this house, looking rather dusty in a charity shop, I had to have it. All for the princely sum of 15 euro. It is the same model of house which belonged to my aunt, the aunt of Rupert fame. Her doll house was in my grandmother’s house, and I would be allowed to play with it when I visited. Before a trip I would often go to a department store in Carlow, Darrers, to buy some new furniture to add to the collection between its four little wooden walls.
There are very few things in life that delight me as much as miniatures. Much like the comedian Bill Bailey, I think there is something magical and other-worldly in holding a tiny version of something, like imagining yourself as a giant. Another part of it is marvelling at the construction of something that small, the details, or even the loss of details, but retaining enough to keep it recognisable. The furniture that came with it is just as wonderful to look at. Made by a Czech company called Tofa, they are simple wooden pieces in a very fashionable mid-century style. As you slide open the wooden panels at the front, the three rooms are revealed, almost like a small Irish cottage in its proportions.
So it sits on a shelf in my hall way, so far up that often visitors don’t notice it. It is a reminder of all those happy hours spent playing at the kitchen table, or on the rug in front of the fire. These tiny rooms make me smile, as if there is still the possibility of thousands more stories to be told and acted out by small hands.
Object Name: My Little Pony – Talk a Lot
Notes: One of the many My Little Ponies I owned as a child
Comments: My best friend and I had, what my mother referred to as, herds of these ponies growing up. We carried them in big bunches by their tails across the road to each other’s houses. Not only did we have the ponies themselves but many of their playsets – the Show Stable, the Ballet Studio, even a Kitchen set (although how you would stir a bowl when all you have is hooves is anyone’s guess). I still own every single one of the multitude of ponies I collected as a child, most of which live in a crate, probably in desperate need of a wash to remove two decades worth of dust.
This is a more unusual My Little Pony (or MLP as they are called), as Talk a Lot, well talks. If you squeeze her she will tell you “I love you”, “I’m pretty”, “I love you” and finally “Comb my hair”. Not exactly engaging conversation, that might put you in mind of quite a famous scene from the Simpsons involving a talking Malibu Stacy doll (video). I had Talk a Lot and my best friend had the pink version, Chatterbox – both of whom said exactly the same thing! As you can see she has some marks on her neck from when we had to try and figure out how to change her batteries, rather distressingly her head twists off to allow for that. I don’t remember being perturbed by that as a child, now I do hesitate and the casual action of beheading a small, smiling, purple pony.
I was reminded of my stash of MLPs recently when I discovered that there is going to be a conference on this very subject in June in Brighton called My Little Pony: A Transcultural Phenomenon. There is a very large part of me that would love to go along, but the timing is terrible for me and has absolutely nothing to do with my area of study. However, how the plastic ponies I adored as a child have been reborn into a new and incredibly popular franchise is fascinating. It almost makes me feel as if my collection is something worth holding on to, although that is very tenuous reasoning. I don’t think I have the heart to sell my “herd” to the avid collectors and “bronies” on Ebay. So in the crates they will have to languish for the time being, waiting for someone else to come along to chat to them.
Object Name: Collection of wooden elephants
Notes: three wooden elephants from around the world. Update to Object Number 7.
Comments: Like many people I have a fondness for elephants. They do seem like mythical creatures in many way, their size, their magnificent trunks, the odd elegance they can exhibit and of course their role in military history. My little parade of elephants (no pink ones as of yet) happened by accident rather than design. Like many of the objects I have catalogued here so far, two of these I have known for most of my life – the largest and the smallest, though it is the middle elephant that helped establish this herd. After a trip to India my brother presented me with an Indian elephant, the light coloured one in the middle of the troupe. I was so taken with him that I immediately received the next two. The larger elephant, I am told, was a present brought back from Africa by a relative of my mother along with a carved crocodile. Both animals were regularly played with by all of us when we were small and bear the scars from that. The elephant has been chipped a lot, and both have pen marks – perhaps an attempt to add a little colour to these wooden characters. When it was noticed that I had a little collection emerging the last and smallest elephant emerged from a drawer in my parent’s house, just as previous elephant had from a cupboard. Our littlest elephant was purchased at a jumble sale by my brother when he was still quite young. It is hard to tell what he is made of, given he is almost jet black in colour, but he seems to have white bead eyes inset. Unlike his larger brethren however, this little fellow isn’t moving in step. He has his little legs firmly unmoving, and even though the African elephant is rather abstract his movement makes him seem rather more real than this little fellow. Perhaps he was made by someone unfamiliar with elephants, or due to his size a more static pose is more stable and easier to carve. Nonetheless, his stubborn rigidity only adds to his charm.
Although we don’t know where the third elephant came from originally I like to think of my parade of elephants as representing the three extant species of elephant in descending order in the photograph: the African bush elephant (Loxodonta africana), Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) and African forest elephant (Loxodonta africana cyclotis or Loxodonta cyclotis).
Object Name: Halo figurine
Notes: some accessories not shown…
Comments: Now, I am not a Halo player or a fan. I am, however, a big fan of the web series Red vs Blue. If you have never seen it, I’m not going to give you all the back ground just because Wikipedia does a better job of it. Basically it is a parody of first person shooters and is “filmed” in Halo and its sequels. There are a few main characters, one of which is the “fool” – Caboose. He is by far and away my favourite character as his innocence is just adorable. So there are no Red vs Blue figurines, but there are Halo ones. So my boyfriend of the time gave me this as my very own Caboose. Although he doesn’t say some of my favourite Caboose lines such as “I call it naptime! After that comes food time. Then comes food-nap time! Which is my favourite time of all!”, he still has pride of place.
He was only recently de-boxed (yes I can be a “Mint in Box” kind of collector) as the box just fell apart. He has lived on a few walls and he fell off one to many times. Of course now I just worry about losing his extra accessories…
Object Name: Pair of baby bracelets
Notes: one gold and one silver baby bracelets
Comments: Baby bracelets aren’t an unusual item, I presume. A quick look online and them seem very popular as a baby gift. As you can tell from the photograph, I don’t occupy my spare time polishing them. As far as I can recall, both of my god parents presented me with these as christening gift.
I find these an odd pair of objects to keep as I have no personal memories attached to them as they are truly tiny. All I can do is marvel at how small I must have been once for these to fit me (although as a child I had quite chunky arms…). Both have little plates ready for inscription, with one blank. Unless I was to have children of my own, or name a daughter after myself, what will I ever do with these? It seems like there are many traditions around the world about the significance of jewellery on children, linked with good fortunes and warding off evil. When does one “grow out” of these though, and must you hold onto them forever? I have no inclination to get rid of them but as an object I don’t remember wearing let alone receiving, they are a funny form of tangible memory I have been given by my god parents.
Object Name: Rupert Bear
Notes: vintage Pedigree Rupert Bear
Comments: Rupert the bear featured largely in my childhood. I was never an avid fan of the comic but an actual bear was one of my most treasured soft toys as a child. This is not the bear I had when I was little, but he is a very close replacement for the Rupert that I loved so much and for many years. Rupert was around as long as I remembered as the original bear that went to bed with me every night was one that my aunt owned as a little girl. Rupert Bear, just like this one, was made by the British firm Pedigree in the 1960s on the back of the popular comics.
When I had the original Rupert all those years ago he was in his twenties and was the largest bear I owned. My father told me many years later that I slept every night with so many soft toys that he sometimes feared he’d find me buried underneath them all. I would arrange them every night from the largest, Rupert, right down to the smallest toy. He was so well loved that my mum repeatedly darned him and patched him up. He was worn and battered and his nose was entirely flattened into his face, unlike this happy fellow above.
After so many years in our house my mum returned Rupert to his original owner, my aunt. Having children of her own, she thought it might be a good idea to give him a wash. Sadly Rupert was just too old to survive such a clean and he didn’t make it though his treatment. When my mum broke this news to me, very gently, I had a quick look on Ebay on a whim. There he was, a near perfect Rupert Bear with a scarf, prominent nose and all! Well he was an impulse buy and I was delighted to get him. He is about half the size of the original Rupert but I’d be very surprised if he was ever owned by a child. I couldn’t leave the family Rupert-less, and it wasn’t for long.
You may have noticed he’s not the only teddy in the picture. Rainbow Pup in the background was an equally well loved toy of mine. For as long as I remember his ear was held on with a Bandaid, but when my mum found him she carefully stitched his ear back on. The little bear suffered the fate of having his leg pulled off, which I only repaired recently! So I don’t think I’ll ever live a soft toy or teddy bear free life, the big kid that I am.
Object Name: Goggles
Notes: vintage goggle to complete any steampunk look
Comments: As someone who has been a goth since my early teens there was bound to be an evolution into a slightly less over the top style eventually. I wouldn’t really class myself as a steampunk, but the other half has a distinct penchant for all things of this nature. For those of you who might not have come across this phenomena before, steampunk is a fashion based on a form of alternative science fiction. It drew a lot of of its inspiration from a book titled The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling. It is an alternative history in which all technology is still based on steam power and engines rather than being overtaken by petro-chemicals, largely predicated on the fact that in this book Charles Babbage actually built his analytical engine.
Mostly steampunk is a very beautiful form of design to me. I am a fan of classical design shapes but wouldn’t like to live my life surrounded by antiques – I’m far too clumsy for that. Steampunk uses classic Victorian and Edwardian styles with a modern twist and this appeals to me greatly. I bought these goggles to add to my more dressed up outfits. Technically these appear to be vintage welding goggles and are made out of a Bakelite type plastic. The tinted glass is removable and the adjustable parts of the straps are made from leather. A nice piece of industrial history, and given their good condition – never used!
Object Name: Silver Doc Martins
Notes: To add to my growing collection of Docs
Comments: Not huge amount to say about these bad boys. As you may have gathered from previous posts, I love me some Doc Martins – velvet or otherwise. These ones were decidedly easier to procure than their velvet companions, being advertised in Schuh on O’Connell Street on a giant two story high poster.
Recently I was back in my old college and it was brought home to me how associated I am with my boots. An old lecturer exclaimed “Where are your big boots?!” as I was wearing a very girly pair of ballet pumps. The truth was that I’m now worried about wearing out my different pairs of treasured boots. I rarely wear my velvet ones (what if they got wet?!) and my gold (not pictured) and these silver ones are starting to rub so the metallic finish is coming off. I know I can’t have these boots forever and I’ll get over that – but will I still be me if I had none of these foot adornments? I shudder to think what the answer is…
Object Name: The Beatles – All You Need is Love tin
Accessioned: 2002 (?)
Notes: A set of stackable tins inspired by the movie Yellow Submarine.
Comments: From about age 13/14 I was obsessed with the Beatles. I would slavishly save up the £15 or £16 to buy each of the thirteen original UK released albums, having to specially order the less popular ones through my local record shop. Predictably my first album was Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band but I think one of the last I got was the Yellow Submarine as this was a few years before it was remastered and re-released. I loved the movie and the soundtrack – it is pure 1960s psychedelia and was utterly bizarre. Travelling through a fantasy land the Beatles (voiced by actors, not the Beatles themselves) are on a mission to save Pepperland which is under threat from the Blue Meanies. The Beatles use their music (and happiness) to defeat these curmudgeonly evil-doers. This includes using the song All You Need Is Love that builds a tower of song lyrics to torment the Meanies.
My brother bought me this tin on the back of that love I had for renting these movies. I rented them over and over from the local video store on VHS along with the other three movies by the Beatles (A Hard Day’s Night, Help and The Magical Mystery Tour).
Mostly the tin stores pins and buttons these days. It is a lovely (and suitably tasteful) reminder of that passion I still have for the Beatles – however over-rated some people claim them to be!
Object Name: Platypus Soft Toy
Accessioned: early 1990s
Notes: One of a number of Australian soft toys I own.
Comments: An aunt of mine was also lucky (?) enough to by my Godmother. As a Catholic this basically means that in the event my parents are incapable or lapse in their duty to raise me in the faith my Godparents should step up to the plate. In the absence of that need, Godparents send you presents! My Godmother is a nurse who spent a few years working in Australia in the early to mid 1990s.
Mostly she sent me soft toys as when I was little I loved all manner of stuffed animals. I used to go to sleep every night with all my soft animals arranged from biggest (at my pillow) which was a bear called Rupert, right down to the smallest of the animals at the end of the bed. It just so happens that the biggest bear, Rupert, was originally my Godmother’s bear. When I had him as a child he was over 25 years old. He was a well loved bear who has now been returned to his original owner when she had her own family.
I think the funniest thing about this Platypus is that he is about twice as big as a real one and he looks like a furry sausage with felt ducks feet stuck on! He is eminently cuddle-able though, you can not fault him there.