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.
Herbert is my husband’s great-grandfather and something of a Spanish hero. How I hear you cry can a hard-working Nottinghamshire miner, born in 1919 in Mansfield be a Spanish hero?
From talking to members of the family and putting the pieces together it would seem that as a young man Herbert spent some of his youth in Spain immersing himself in the language and culture reluctantly returning home before he married his first wife Annie Evans. Herbert married twice, had six children and eventually moved to Doncaster but when Spain needed him he went to her aid and paid the ultimate price.
The Spanish Civil War is not my area of expertise and to be honest I do not fully understand the ins and outs of the situation but the main objective of the ordinary Spanish man was the fight against the fascist movement.
There are many websites that can explain much better than I the full story but for me and of course Herbert, the Battle of Jarama is its beginning and end.
Herbert lost his life on the 27 February 1937 on what has become known as ‘suicide hill‘ along with approximately 400 of his comrades. If you follow the ‘suicide hill’ link you’ll get a feeling through John Corcoran’s site what they were up against.
I knew little of the British involvement in this often forgotten war before I found out about Herbert and from the reading I’ve done the war was not an easy one, ultimately Franco came to power.