A visit to Wakefield

In search of the lost history of the objects mentioned in my previous post, I contacted David Evans at the Wakefield Museum to have a look at the Educational Resource Service accession register. I’m always impressed by the helpfulness of museum professionals in accommodating me and my research, especially since on this visit I had my junior research associate (aged 6 months) along with me.

The Wakefield store is a treasure trove of objects not currently on display in the Museum, including the records of the Educational Resource Service. David also kindly showed me a few ancient Cypriot objects from the ERS which are now in the Wakefield collection, including a medieval jar with beautiful lustrous blue-green glaze, and a lentoid flask with strap handle and just-visible white painted bands of decoration.

Medieval Cypriot jar © Wakefield Museums

Medieval Cypriot jar
© Wakefield Museums

Cypriot lentoid flask © Wakefield Museums

Cypriot lentoid flask
© Wakefield Museums

The accession register turned out to cover a large span of the history of the collection, from 1963 to 1988, and helped to pinpoint the change of title from the School Museum Service to the Educational Resource Service in January 1986. There was also a card index file, which included additional information on some of the items.

Making matches between the objects I’ve found so far, the accession register entries, and the rather opaque (to me) card index system was not straightforward, but I have been able to glean some additional information about the Cypriot objects which formed part of the ERS collection. As Mr Woodward, former Senior Advisor to the ERS, had recalled, some came from the British Museum, presumably duplicates which were passed on without having been accessioned. The BM is recorded as the source of a tempting list of Cypriot artefacts, including a chariot model, but sadly none of them readily identifiable among the objects I’ve seen to date.

Others were purchased from the Folio Society’s ‘Collectors’ Corner’, and later from Charles Ede Ltd., and more from D. Reaney, a dealer in antiquities in Long Eaton in the 1960s. From these records we learn that the lentoid flask was one of three, costing either £14 or £22, and that the blue-green glazed jar was dated to C13th – C14th AD. Unfortunately, there is little solid information linking the extant objects to their dealers, and still less about where they might have originated from.

Nevertheless, I’m now following up these leads to see if the trails can be followed any further back. It’s fascinating to think of the varied lives these objects have led, and what they have meant to their different owners and users along the way.