Thursday, 19 June 2014

The Smythson Stationery Museum

Thursday 19 June 2014

We shall tell you about what happened to last week's visit when the pain is a little less acute...  But for now, let me tell you about this morning.

Mary is sailing around the west coast of Scotland, Linda is in France, so I was on my own for a trip to New Bond Street, and possibly the smallest museum on our list:  Smythson's Stationery Museum.

Smythson's is a long-established stationery store, full of beautiful things.  They have a tiny museum room, with six cases, to which I was directed by charming staff, 

A set of Bridge scoring pencils dated from 1970, but there were several earlier items. I admired the bespoke stationery of the Maharaja of  Baroda from 1926, and various bespoke seals from the fist half of the 20th century.

 But perhaps the most remarkable case contained the 'Featherlight Monitor Bag' of 1905, proclaimed to be 'the best London make'.  I had to ask what it was for, though it is clearly a doctor-type bag.  And so it is:  the glass jars and bottles, all with monogrammed lids, were for collecting specimens of this and that, such as doctors still enjoy.

As well as the cases in the museum, the spacious rooms of the main shop also have historic items in glass cloches.  I was not particularly taken with the whiskey-soda set from 1920 in the form of three fake books, but I loved the 1909 leather clutch bag, 'a very convenient and portable arrangement', and the 'featherweight pocket diary: may be carried in the breast pocket without the least disfigurement'.  Clearly all the well-dressed chaps of 1908 would have one.

Then there was a 'pocket flask in solid leather slipcase' from 1902, priced at 6/-.  According to the This is Money website's historic calculator, six shillings then is about £32.20 now, which sounds quite reasonable.

The rest of the shop is full of wonderful things but, as you might expect in New Bond Street, no price tags.  I suppose that, if you need to ask the price ....

But if you want a holder for your tablet, your phone, your passport, your jewellery, Smythson's is a good place to vist.  And even if you don't, the museum is lovely and the staff friendly.

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