The Uselessness of Stuff – Part 3

I’ll tell you where my collecting ‘stuff’ really started, before I finish telling you about the stuff I have and how useless it really is (except for that platter I showed you last time, which has been very handy on occasion!)

In 1994, Julian’s first wife’s mother died and he was the executor of her estate. She lived in a 1930’s house in outer London which was full of ‘stuff’, much of it useful to Mary (first m-in-law) but really outdated without being antique or even vintage. But, some of it was antique. There was a lovely walnut table which was left to her brother along with a gorgeous secretaire-bookcase and a nice chest of drawers and there were a collection of gorgeous Chinese mother-of-pearl gaming counters, a few bits of china, some good boxes, some cutlery and a few paintings, which went to auction. Mainly, though, there were things like some kitchen utensils which could be described as vintage, but of no value along with old reels of cotton, large wardrobes of uncertain vintage, dining table and chairs from the 40’s which all went to house clearance people.

That year I was working as a supply teacher so had time to go to Mary’s house and see to the sorting, tidying, packing, etc that needed to be done. It was a job that I really enjoyed, despite the sad circumstances of Mary’s death.

Some months later, when life had returned to normal, I was thinking about how I had enjoyed finding things I knew nothing about (especially the mother-of-pearl counters which were sold for a quite substantial sum) and realised that my daughter and her daughter wouldn’t find anything very interesting if they had to do the same job when I died. That was my reason for starting to build such a huge store of ‘stuff’.

So, now to the other ‘stuff’….

I have a large shoebox full of ‘scraps’. They were mostly made in the late 19th century by the firm of Raphael Tuck, who had come to Britain from Germany in the second half of the 19th century. His firm also made greetings cards, postcards, cardboard toys, jigsaw puzzles and little books for children, all of very good quality. Though I still search them out – and have sold some in the distant past – I really don’t know what to do with them! Don’t tell me to get rid of them because I really like them, even if they are useless.

I also have a shoe box full of greetings cards (mainly antique), several shoe boxes full of postcards (mainly late 19th/early 20th century) including half a box of Tuck postcards, a small selection of advertising cards, and another of ‘song’ cards, ten or fifteen boxed sets of puzzle cubes, a few old and interesting games, shelves full of old wooden jigsaw puzzles, a 1930’s dolls house with lots of furniture and several box files full of ‘interesting’ papers. Sitting here, I’m sure I’ve forgotten other stuff but you get my gist…..many things that may once have been very useful, are in my possession and are no longer useful. But I like them!

So, folks, I guess these things do have a use (besides something to write about.) Their use is to tell part of my story to my descendants when I’m no longer around – which is, in fact, the purpose of all my posts!

A very pretty set of puzzle blocks.
The box of old greetings cards.
Some of the scraps which I’ve taken out of the box-full.
Several of the advertising cards.
Some of the many postcards.

And here is a selection of things made from wood that I have collected over the years. Some were bought to sell but weren’t, others I couldn’t bear to part with.

Left to right: A painted box, a Chinese table snuff, a mini chest of drawers, a cup-and-ball game, a spinning top (at back), a tiny wooden container in 3 parts, and a mystery item which I will tell you about below.
This strange object was used by a teacher to remind her class to be quiet. It was called ‘a mistress‘s clicker’. (None of my classes would ever have been able to hear the very muted sound it makes!)

Last, but never least, wooden jigsaw puzzles. The best I ever bought were in anonymous cardboard boxes and came without a picture of the finished puzzle – the kind I still love today.

This old ‘butter’ box has a 30’s puzzle in it, possibly a Victory puzzle, which has pieces that interlock – as most do today.
This came in another anonymous box. You will see that the face of a child is separate from the other pieces, many of which are interlocking. The finished puzzle is below.
A jigsaw made from an old Pears’Soap advert (symbol in right bottom corner tells me this). It is missing two pieces but they don’t really make much difference. For a longer post about old wooden jigsaws, see my archived post, “Confession: I was a push-fit, colour-cut, wooden jigsaw virgin.” which I posted in 2017.


My next post will be one that I wrote some time ago but, for some reason did not publish at the time, called “The strange things we learned about England when we came here in 1958”

About Candy

I am 74, was a teacher, then a dealer in antiques and collectables. When I retired to the seaside I started website selling antique and vintage games and wooden jigsaw puzzles. Now, I'm spending my time blogging, gardening and making oil paintings.
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