Today was spent working on the collection. What does this exactly mean? It is a mix between cleaning, cataloging, and researching. Thunderbird Lodge, like most house museums, has a huge collection and again like most house museums, lacks the type of storage areas that a traditional history museum has. That means over the years items have been placed wherever there was a safe spot. One my (many) jobs is to get it all back together, clean it, create condition reports, number each item, enter it into the database if it has not already been done, then pack the items in acid free boxes, and find a safe place to store it. And that is the abbreviated version!
The focus of today’s work was the china and tableware. This first collection is Pine Cone, by French Saxon. These were produced in the early 1950s and were discontinued in 1959. These were certainly the less formal settings here at Thunderbird when Whittell was here:
This is an example of his formal china:
In the memories recorded by Fr. Don Mason of his time working for Whittell, he recalls cleaning and shining this very china for dinner every night. Unfortunately we only have a few items in our collection out of the 121 original pieces. Here we see it in 1939 Appraisal listing all the items on the property at the time:
I hope we find more pieces over time.
However, today I had a fun discovery. Packed safely away, wrapped carefully and taped up with the note “Whittell Saucers,” I found this collection:
The pieces are extremely varied. It also included two decanter stoppers and a tea-cup. I do not have a great deal of information on these pieces and research is of course called for! The origins are from France, England, and the Orient.
Here are some close-ups of my favorites:
I spent several hours carefully spot cleaning and photographing them in detail for the database. Sadly, most have permanent damage from dirt, stains, paint loss, and discoloration, but thankfully very few chips!
All items are part of the Thunderbird Lodge Preservation Society Collection.
Hope you enjoyed this inside peak!