[A guest-post by KatharineD]
This is a follow up to the story of the Lucas shrine Guylty made for Micra – it concerns the tin itself, and its ‘unexpected journey’.
A short while back I sent Guylty a package containing a number of tins, old and new, along with some craft items, after she kindly agreed to make a RAPS for me. I hadn’t had any suitable tins around the house myself, but I knew my mum was a prime candidate for having some stashed away- I really liked Guylty’s notion of using recycled items for the shrines. Mum’s been unwell lately, and this turned out to be a nice distraction for her from her various aches and pains, an unexpected side benefit to the whole fun adventure. Explaining what use a tin would be put to wasn’t quite so easy, although she has heard me speak more than once of ‘that English actor’ I follow!
Mum found one old tin for me straight away, and asked me to give her a day or so to see if she could uncover some more. She’s English, a small child during the Great Depression, and a school student during WWII, so the need to not waste useful items is deeply ingrained in her – she’s not exactly a collector, more of a keeper, you might say.
I was completely unsurprised when she rang me the next day to say she’d found some more old tins – would I like to have a look? I was delighted not just by the tins themselves, but their current contents as well – a weird assortment of unusual haberdashery items dating back goodness knows how many years, some great old badges, and in another tin, old coins. We spent quite some time sorting through it all, with mum sharing anecdotes of the history of some of the items. She was more than happy to part with the tins, turfing all the contents into ordinary plastic containers, knowing that they would be put to good, (if somewhat confusing!) use. I made sure to keep mum updated on the packing of the parcel, the hurried repacking experience at the post office (!), and its (thankfully) successful arrival in Ireland, since she now had a vested interest in the whole endeavour.
The Cherry Cough Pastilles tin which houses Micra’s RAPS, came from England, made by British company Warrick Brothers of London. Not much information to be had on the internet unfortunately, but I did find that they were a ‘pharmaceutical chemist and medicinal pastille manufacturer‘ from 1851 to 1966. They made all sorts of lozenges, tablets and capsules with ingredients you wouldn’t see today. The ingredients listed on the tin are a strange assortment – wild cherry bark, marshmallow, powdered ipecac, chloroform and squill, which I now know to be a medicinal plant. The things you learn!
I haven’t been able to date the tin exactly (I did find one that had been sold on eBay, but without details), but I’m pretty sure it would’ve been purchased in the early 1950’s by my dad in London. My late father was Australian, one of many who went to England in the fifties looking for adventure, wanting to see more of life than Australia had to offer at that time – he met my mum in London when they worked together in Southwark, got married in 1954, and sailed to Australia to start a life together and raise a family. So the well-travelled tin has sailed to Australia, flown to Ireland, and then taken its most recent shorter journey to Italy.
Thanks to Katharine for this write-up. It really tickles the historian in me to know more about the provenance of the tin, and I find its journey through the world quite astonishing. England – Australia – Ireland – Italy. That tin has seen more than I have 🙂