Saturday, 7 February 2015

Testing Artificial Teeth

Testing Artificial Teeth - William Heath Robinson

My wife and I visited Derby museum the other day. The Derby china collection was first on the list because we know one of the chaps who reclassified it last year. A fine collection but little in the way of interest somehow.

No great attempt has been made to fit the exhibits into a social and commercial setting, particularly with respect to the industrial revolution and the middle class passion for the status conferred by fine china.

The Derby china is very pretty, but I think the gilding is all superficial ; and the finer pieces are so dear, that perhaps silver vessels of the same capacity may be sometimes bought at the same price
Samuel Johnson - letter to Mrs Thrale 1777

After the china it was on to the Joseph Wright exhibition which L finds a little spooky, partly because of the size of the paintings - many are virtually life size. She says the effect is like being surrounded by long dead people from another and now somewhat mysterious age. After a while I begin to know what she means.

The Heath Robinson exhibition was entertaining though. A fine reminder of his delightfully inventive humour. Worth a visit if you are in the area. Another more sombre reminder lurks behind the exhibition though, because we’ll never see Heath-Robinson and his world again.

After Heath Robinson it was on to the ancient bits and pieces from Derby’s long history, from Roman and medieval pots to flint arrow heads. While browsing the exhibits we were both struck with the same idea: wouldn’t it have been wonderful to have made a career finding and studying these ancient relics? If only we’d followed another direction.

Or maybe not. As habitual cynics we know the grass among the artifacts may not be as green as it seems to the casual museum visitor. To pinch a phrase from Saki, we are too familiar with the long reach of elaborate futilities. Heath Robinson without the humour


Scrobs... said...

We tried selling some blue Wedgewood a few years ago, and despite the near perfect condition for its hundred and twenty or so years, it didn't get a tickle!

Mrs Scroblene doesn't even like it, so what to do with it?

(Sorry - off topic here..)

Demetrius said...

The Heath Robinson's of age are sadly now all in senior positions in the civil and overlapping financial services sectors.

Demetrius said...

And another thing, I went round the Derby Loco Works in 1947, has it changed much?

graham wood said...

Heath Robinson. "A fine reminder of his delightfully inventive humour."

But what an inventor!
Like me, I expect you use daily his wonderful machine for removing gravy stains from garden paths.
I think the patent has run out now, so opportunity to re-jig this machine for the 21st century.

A K Haart said...

Scrobs - Victorian Wedgwood isn't worth much unless rare or spectacular. We dispose of such things via an auction with no reserve or we just give it to a charity shop.

We give a lot of stuff to charity, it avoids being disappointed when it fetches a low price at auction.

Demetrius - I've never visited the loco works apart from a fairly recent visit to the Roundhouse which I suspect has changed a good deal since 1947!

Graham - yes the gravy stain remover is a boon, but ours is showing its age. A number of pulleys and cogs are wearing out and the rope is seriously frayed where it attaches to the mangle.

Good news about the patent though. Maybe I'll take a look at updating ours to steam power.