Saturday, 8 March 2014

Finding Buried Treasure


Thank you for your comments on my crocheted curtain tie-backs. I'm glad I can share these little forays into creative homemaking with you all, it gives me such pleasure. 

We've enjoyed some mild and sunny weather this week and that, combined with the increasingly lighter afternoons, has given the air a deliciously spring-like feel. I'm wary of declaring it spring too soon though - do you remember how late spring was last year? Winter just seemed to go on and on. We had a heavy snow fall right at the end of March, which I wrote about here, so I have to remember that these Yorkshire springs can be late and very chilly. But, that said, it's been really nice to have the windows and kitchen door open, to be in the garage and garden, sorting, clearing and pottering.  My trawl through March 2013's posts showed that we seem to do a lot of DIY during this month and this year has been no different. We've painted Angus's old bedroom, the box room, and turned it into a study/office. My lovely mum, who has been staying with us this week, has been helping me in the garden. The garage has been emptied, sorted and re-organised, and many, many trips have been made to the tip. (Can you tell I am making the most of having John around before he starts his new job?)


But, while doing these chores, we've uncovered some treasures which really made me stop and smile and reach for the camera. One is this ancient box of Derwent colouring pencils, which John found in amongst a dusty box of art materials in the garage. John remembers them well from his own childhood and thinks they belonged to his father. The language on the box is so robustly patriotic that I think they were far more likely to be from the fifties or sixties than the eighties, when John was a child. They are "British Made Throughout" from "British Colours" and "Based on the standard shades of the British Colour Council". The box tells us they were produced in Keswick, England - we get the picture. No foreign pencils here! The box has seen better days and is practically disintegrating now, but I think it's beautiful in it's faded, water-marked state.



The list of colours on the back reads like a poem. The Derwent range of colours included "Naples Yellow", "Geranium Lake", "Imperial Purple", "Delft Blue" and "Vandyke Brown", whatever that is. They are more like the titles of novels than names of colours.


The original pencils are long gone I hope - for surely they were all used - and the box now contains a mixture of pencils from Derwent, Rowney and WHSmiths, still in a rainbow of colours.




We found many other art materials in the box with these, including lots of watercolour pencils, with which the children have enjoyed experimenting. But what makes this old box particularly special to us is their lineage. John's father was a talented artist who, after attending art college, worked as a designer for a company which made carpets. If he was working now, we'd probably call him a graphic designer. John also has a natural skill for drawing although he'd tell you otherwise. But as, sadly, John's father died long before I met him, the children and I don't have many direct links to him. I like to imagine that he first used this box of pencils, and then John did, and now the grandchildren he never knew can enjoy them too.

35 comments:

Emma Pearce said...

What a lovely find. Sudden flashes into a forgotten time are so precious and exciting and so nice that you have this link to your husbands father xx

SaraJ said...

:) what a lovely story.
Hope you have a great weekend. X

Jennifer said...

I'm so glad you have them. I have a box of Crayola crayons from the late 1940's, which belonged to my husband's father as a child. He is still alive, but it's still very nice to have them. The box even has his name, "Bobby," written on top, in very childish scrawl. It's so good to have old things like that.

Christina said...

I have a real weakness for coloured pencils. Being Swiss, I grew up with Caran d'Ache colouring pencils and remember my first set inside my red zipped leather school pencil case. The pencils were hold in place by red elasticated loops. I love pencils with soft "lead" ( I don't know what the equivalent name for the insides of a colouring pencil is). I always buy a box or two in the agricultural cooperative when in Switzerland (never in a stationary shop because otherwise we'd have to remortgage the house). Because you can never have too many colouring pencils. Thank you for awakening lovely memories Gillian. Have a lovely weekend. Cx

Kate-Em said...

What lovely family history. I love the old box. There is a pencil museum in Keswick that could probably help you date it accurately if you wanted to find out.

Michelle H said...

How wonderful! I love family heirlooms of all kinds, especially those that were actually used by family. We just found out that Make A Wish is sending my sister and her family to London this summer. I am so excited for them, and envious! Hubby and I were already planning a trip over there, but not for five YEARS!!

Amy at love made my home said...

This is so lovely Gillian, I am sure that you will treasure this now that you have found it - much better than being in a box in the garage for sure!! xx

Kate Eastwood said...

That is true treasure !
Kate x

Susan Smith said...

What a find. I also have a box of Derwent pencils and yes they would be from the 50's & 60's as I bought mine for 10d each and was lucky to be given the boxes for them by a lovely lady at the shop where I was buying them,. I'll post a photo on my blog today. 10d was my pocket money for a fortnight for a long time and I used birthday money as well to purchase them over several years, so you're find certainly brought back memories for me too. Glad your weather is beginning to seem Springlike as ours is still very warm with 30+ temps for the next 3 days. Yuk. Take care.

Marion Ogden said...

What a wonderful find, a real treasure!
Marion x

tangled_web said...

There was a box of Derwent pencils at my Grandparents house when I was little-I loved playing with the colours! It's fantastic that you have them as a link between the generations :-)

Joy said...

How beautiful to have that box, and the sentiments regarding it and the pencils!
I'm so pleased for you that the weather has lightened up and you've been able to get on with some 'spring-cleaning' while the opportunity is there - and such a good time of year for John's new job to begin, all the very best again! Joy x

RedSetter said...

How lovely, and what a sweet find. I'd be so torn between encouraging their use and keeping them.

CJ said...

Treasure indeed, what a lovely box. I do love a nice bunch of colouring pencils - so many possibilities. Hope you have a good Sunday. CJ xx

the linen cloud said...

Gorgeous treasure and a lovely link to your families past ... Bee xx

krayolakris said...

Lovely box and story. Anthony van Dyke was the leading court painter in England in the early 1600s. The van dyke beard style is named after him of course!!

Jacqui Galloway said...

What a find, Gillian. True treasures from heaven. Links to the past.
Jacqui xx

A little happy place said...

What a fabulous find and a lovely story. Sarah xo

Julie said...

What a lovely thing to find. I love old packaging and it's extra special having the family link. Garage clearing is also on my list - we've only been here almost 5 years but it's amazing how much stuff accumulates in that time! x

Lyn said...

Oh what a treasure to find. I love the box, and weren't we proud in those days to actually be british let alone actually manufacture something here!
It is lovely that the family link continues. Xxx

mags said...

Love the box. There is a fabulous pencil museum at keswick which celebrates the company and a nice pictorial history on the website. First dyer went pencils were made in 1938. Xx

Sopa Azul said...

Beatutiful box Gillian!! Hugs :D

Swissrose said...

One of the things I and my ex-schoolmates from a Swiss international school remember are those Caran d'Ache coloured pencils in our organised pencil cases (they really were cases, not just pouches!) :) It's still a big thing when children start school and get the matching schoolbag and pencil case for the birthday before the big day - that will be summer '15 for my grandson! My mum's birthday is in june and she used to get a new box of crayons and a new dress for her birthday and Christmas, rarely anything else - and I, too, always loved my tins of pencils as a child. Recently i splashed out on some new Caran d'Aches to play with... :)

Vintage Sheet Addict said...

Fab find and you've captured the leaf beautifully! :) x

Andrea said...

what a classic box!

pandchintz said...

What a fabulous find! Derwents were always The pencils to have when I was at school, but sadly too expensive for my parents to afford! Such romantic names for each of the pencil colours!

Lisa said...

A real family treasure indeed. I'm liking the idea of May Green, it's the sunshine that's doing it!
Lisa x

FunkySteph said...

Oh, I love this post... Beautiful.

Col | Hello Olive said...

Oh how lovely, it really is treasure! x

Jane said...

What a lovely find. We were in the Lake District a couple of years ago, staying just outside Keswick and there is actually a pencil museum there, which is far more interesting than it sounds! Have a good week.
Jane x

Emily said...

Oh, what a lovely find...treasure indeed! The box is beautiful, and I love the names of the colors...so different than the names we see on the Crayola crayons today.

Emily said...

Oh, what a lovely find...treasure indeed! The box is beautiful, and I love the names of the colors...so different than the names we see on the Crayola crayons today.

Annie @ knitsofacto said...

Such a lovely story attached to these. And that box, wow! It's so perfectly sixties isn't it, John has to be right that they were his Dad's.

Sarah said...

I love the names of the colours too - wonderful!
Sarah :)

Gracie Saylor said...

I love the way they look used and treasured and that they offer creative connection in your family, Gillian! Thanks for posting. xx