steepholm (steepholm) wrote,

"A box of counters and a red-vein'd stone, A piece of glass abraded by the beach"

My mother gave me two treasures yesterday. I don't think either's very valuable, but their treasureliness lies in their interest to me.

First, a Victorian baby's rattle, which was given to my mother by a friend on the occasion of my birth. It's not only a rattle, notice - it's also got a stick for teething, and an integrated whistle. What a handy multipurpose gadget for the modern Miss or Master, circa 1850! On the downside, the elaborate decoration, though entrancing, is also an excellent hiding place for germs.


Those us who live in the grounds of Victorian orphanages should probably make a point of avoiding mysterious antique whistles, and this is never more true than when the gewgaw is accompanied by an oriental ivory dagger, from which the bloodstains (possibly) haven't quite been removed.



I was surprised to find this at my mother's yesterday, as I'd thought it lost. My father brought it home from the War, but I never quite knew how he came by it. I remember that as a small child I imagined it was standard-issue weaponry for Japanese soldiers, and that he had wrested it from an enemy in hand-to-hand combat. I suppose it's rather more likely that he bought it somewhere, but it's still a mystery. The carvings on the ivory look, to my untutored eye, more Chinese than Japanese - but my father was as far as I know only ever in Burma and then Malaya. Still, objects have been known to travel - witness its appearance on my desk in Bristol, where I'm delighted to have it.
Tags: family history, real life
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