Artifact Spotlight: Straw Hats for Summer Comfort

Christeah Dupont, Point Ellice House Museum & Gardens For this week’s artifact spotlight we are highlighting a straw hat known as a “Boater” or “Panama Hat” (PEH1975.001.4294; “Boater” with black grosgrain ribbon). This particular hat dates from the early twentieth century and belonged to either Frank or Jack O’Reilly. Being woven from straw, the Boater is a hat for the springtime, when temperatures warm and wool caps become too hot to wear. When these hats appeared in town it was a sign of summer’s arrival – the wearing of these hats even led to the celebration of “Straw Hat Day”…...Continue reading

Artifact Spotlight: Peter Coddle’s Trip to New York

Christeah Dupont, Point Ellice House Museum & Gardens Peter Coddle’s Trip to New York (PEH 975.1.7768a-b) is a game from the 1880s; it was one of the first mass produced games, resulting in its spread to Canada. The game is a structured narrative in which Peter Coddle (a ‘country bumpkin’) makes his way to New York. There are various blank spaces in the narrative that allows players to insert amusing words or phrases to fill out the story. It is very similar to modern games such as Apples to Apples or Cards Against Humanity in that cards are intended to…...Continue reading

Artifact Spotlight: Violets! (Perfume, Soap, Toilet Powder)

Christeah Dupont, Point Ellice House Museum & Gardens Violets were fashionable during the Victorian era for their delicate aroma, further popularized by Queen Victoria whose journals frequently repeat her adoration of the tiny blossoms. At the time, different meanings became associated with different flowers; violets signified faithfulness and modesty. Due to its popularity, the violet was frequently used in perfumes and toiletries – fresh cut flowers were also tucked into hat brims or openly worn in button holes. There are numerous bottles of violet perfumes in the Point Ellice House collection; these were often imported from France where the blossoms…...Continue reading

Artifact Spotlight: Top Hat and Travelling Case

Christeah Dupont, Point Ellice House Museum & Gardens   This fine hat (PEH 975.1.9654) is made from felted black beaver fur and, according to the milliner stamp on the inside, came all the way from Wright and Oxley hatters on Sackville street in Dublin. This hat likely came with Peter O’Reilly to British Columbia in 1859 (you can see his name engraved on a small brass plate attached to the lid strap of the case). Beaver fur top hats faded out of style not long after this particular one was manufactured. Beaver fur was a popular material as it was…...Continue reading

Artifact Spotlight: Porcelain Pitcher

Christeah Dupont, Point Ellice House Museum & Gardens Point Ellice House has an extensive china pantry and this week we are featuring a white porcelain pitcher (PEH 975.1.349) from the collection. According to the records in our database, it was likely purchased sometime between 1883 and 1893. The design of the pitcher is interesting as it shows intertwined rose, thistle, and shamrock which are the respective flowers of England, Scotland, and the O’Reilly family’s native Ireland. These floral motifs are often seen on coat of arms, as well as the general iconography of the United Kingdom. The mark on the…...Continue reading

Artifact Spotlight: Spectacles

Christeah Dupont, Point Ellice House Museum & Gardens By the end of the 19th century, spectacles or eyeglasses became a more common accessory. As knowledge of the eye increased and other societal changes took place – such as reading for pleasure – there was new demand for better aids to improve vision. In the Point Ellice House collection we have many different types and styles of spectacles, including several meant for reading, as well as tinted folding glasses. We don’t know exactly which family member these glasses belonged to, though many of our eyeglasses were designed for women and it…...Continue reading

Artifact Spotlight: A Scottish Brick

Point Ellice House Museum & Gardens As part of our south garden rehabilitation we have been uncovering various pieces of historical archaeology – particularly bricks, which the O’Reilly family used to create walkways and line borders and paths. Most bricks uncovered so far have not had any markings, making it difficult to identify the manufacturer and date. This week, however, we found an fully intact brick with the marking “GARTCRAIG.” GARTCRAIG bricks were manufactured near Glasgow, Scotland between 1876 and 1927. Victoria had a number of brickyard during this period, so how did a brick from Scotland find its way…...Continue reading

Artifact Spotlight: Pickle Fork

Christeah Dupont, Point Ellice House Museum & Gardens Our modern kitchens are filled with various tools for specific tasks – garlic peelers, avocado slicers, and grapefruit spoons, to name a few. This triple pronged tool from the Point Ellice House collection (PEH 975.1.4966) also has a very specific purpose: to fetch pickles from the bottom of the jar. The pickle fork even has a second handle with a ball on the end to help push your tasty snack off the end so you do not touch the food with your fingers. The Victoria and Albert Museum reminds us that specialized…...Continue reading

Artifact Spotlight: The Royal Game of Bezique

Christeah Dupont, Point Ellice House Museum & Gardens The Royal Game of Bezique (PEH 975.1.2580) is a 19th century “trick-taking” card game derived from a 16th century game called Piquet. This set was manufactured by Charles Goodall & Sons, a playing card and message card printer in 1820. By 1862, Goodall & Sons was producing high quality stationary, games, toys, fountain pens, and even toilet paper. Goodall’s distinctive courts cards (King, Queen, Jack) have been adapted or copied around the world and their designs are still used on playing cards printed today. The Bezique set at Point Ellice House can…...Continue reading

Artifact Spotlight: Two Hours at the Louvre

Christeah Dupont, Point Ellice House Museum & Gardens How to see Quickly and Well: Two Hours at the Louvre (1911) This bilingual guide book published in 1911 is part of our larger guidebook and tourism pamphlet collection at Point Ellice House. The book provides extra information on the history of various paintings through the galleries of the Louvre Museum in Paris, France. The O’Reilly children, Kathleen, Frank, and Arthur, travelled extensively in Europe prior to the First World War. Like many of us do today, the O’Reillys collected and kept their guidebooks from various sites. Kathleen visited France in May,…...Continue reading

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