These pencils are not so much jewels but instead represent a way of life which has largely disappeared – these are the elegant but practical jewels of bygone days.
As with a few of the objects included in this series these pencils were found in the belonginings of Ethel Star my Great Aunt and because of where and who last owned these items, there can only be two possible candidates.
These two ladies, I believe, would be either Agnes Downham or Eliza Hopkins – my 2 x great grandmothers on my mum’s side. They both came from comfortable backgrounds – Agnes from Chippenham and Eliza from Leighton Buzzard.
Agnes married George Henry Star and moved to Mansfield and as my Granny (Agnes’ granddaughter) remembered, “was not the sort of person who shouted her children in for tea – they had a bell for that”.
Eliza grew up in Leighton Buzzard and moved to Mansfield for reasons unknown - at this moment in time. Granny remembered that her grandmother’s front parlour was “like a palace” and that “no-one was allowed to sit down in there” unless “Granny [Eliza] was with you”.
The first mark shows that F. Webb of Birmingham was the maker; the Lion indicates that it is indeed sterling silver .925. The next mark is the date stamp indicating that the pencil was made in 1897; finally the anchor confirms that the pencil was manufactured in Birmingham.
The amazing thing about these pencils was that they still had lead in them – just think perhaps the last person to use these pencils was one of the ladies above.