One of my favourite family traditions at Christmas is to play board games and one of the games most synonymous with Christmas is Monopoly, so on day twenty three of advent we bring you the Monopoly set. Monopoly was first produced in America in 1936 but it came to the UK in the same year when John Waddington secured a licences to publish it. This edition probably dates to around the mid-20th Century as it has wooden houses rather than plastic. One of the best ways of dating Monopoly boards is to look at what the die is made from; earlier die were silver, then bone and later Bakelite or wood. Sadly however the die is missing from this particular set.
Christmas dinner wouldn’t be complete without a Christmas cracker; just imagine lunch without a silly paper hat, a daft joke and a small novelty compass that you’ll never use. But did you know that the first crackers were invented in the first half of the 1800’s by London sweet maker Tom Smith and they traditional contained sweets and small toys.
On day twenty one we bring you these crackers which date to around the mid to late-20th Century and have never been used! I wonder what we’d find if we pulled them….don’t worry, we’ll resist temptation!
On day twenty of advent we bring you this fabulous set of bubble lights. Patented in 1935 by American Inventor Carl Otis, bubble lights had, by the 1940’s became the must have accessory for the Christmas tree. This Juggler set are by U.C. and date from around the mid-20th Century. The lights themselves are glass tubes filled with the chemical methylene chloride. At the base of each tube is a bulb which heats the methylene chloride up to make it bubble and In most the liquid is tinted a different colour.
On day eighteen of advent we bring you another Christmas tradition – mistletoe! Hanging mistletoe in the home is a tradition that dates back to the ancient Druids, it was meant to bring good luck and ward off evil spirits, but later on it became tradition to kiss under the mistletoe as it represented love and friendship. This mistletoe is plastic and dates from the mid-20th Century, there’s also some sprigs of plastic holly mixed in there too!
Earlier in the month we featured some savings stamps books which were a great way of spreading the cost of Christmas.On Day sixteen we bring you this 5’6 Christmas Gift from the Home of Christmas Clubs Dyson & Horsfall. Dyson & Horsfall were a mail-order catalogue firm operating in Preston and a copy of their 1939 Christmas price-list is held by the National Archives. This boxed coffee pot and Kenya coffee would have been given to customers of the Christmas savings club as a token of the company’s appreciation for their valued custom. It’s made from Aluminium, however we know that during WW2 the company donated all it’s aluminium to the war effort to contribute to armaments and aluminium tea and coffee pots were replaced with ceramic products, one example of which was a commemorative teapot bearing the words “war against Hitlarism” -an example of which can be found in the British Museum’s collection. We think therefore that our coffee pot pre-dates WW2, most likely dating to around the 1930’s.
The aptly named bottle brush Christmas trees were highly popular in the 1950’s and were often used to decorate mantles or at the base of a larger Christmas tree, accompanied by a train set or tiny little winter wonderland. They were also sometimes used a centrepieces on tables and were decorated in all kinds of elaborate trinkets, ribbons and plastic jewels. On day Fifteen of advent we bring you these beautiful examples of bottle brush Christmas trees!
On day thirteen of advent we thought we’d share this beautiful Christmas wreath with you. Did you know that the word ‘wreath’ means to ‘to twist’ and historically wreaths were made to represent the eternal life of Christ. We thought that was very interesting. This wreath is artificial and dates to the mid-20th Century.
The nativity is a story that’s been being told in one form or another since 1223, so on day eleven we bring you the three wise men…we’re not sure what happened to the rest of the nativity but unfortunately they never made it to the Museum! These three pieces are made from plastic which places them most likely in the mid to late 20th Century.
With both the snow and Santa’s arrival at the Museum The Collections Team are starting to get pretty excited about Christmas so we thought, as an advent treat, in the run up to the big day we’d share with you some festive offerings from the Beamish Collection.
As many of us are starting to think about putting up our Christmas tree, these delightful mid-20th Century glass baubles seemed the perfect thing to bring you on day one of advent! We love the colours and classic vintage shapes.