Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

The Amber season

There are very few finds on the Thanet coastline that can be classed as seasonal. One such find are the small pieces of Baltic Amber that appear on certain "hot spots" on the foreshore this time of the year.Even though   Amber can to be found all year round it generally tends to be the larger pieces that are very few and far between.
This time of year is when the smaller pieces can be found in quantity. I am not sure what really causes this but I do know the wind and tides that bring it in and where to find it. Finds are nowhere near on par with the Amber found on the Baltic coastline but what I do find has a genuine Thanet provenance. Over the years I have just collected it and never made anything with it . However, few years back I gave a collection to Sarah at the Grotto for display and I do have some in the Margate Museum.
This year I will be setting my sites on finding  Ambergris so I expect I will come across more Amber and associated items.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Ambergris in Thanet ?

I have often been asked "what are the chances of finding Ambergris on the Thanet coastline ?". More often than not I do seem to be asked that question by people who do not know the difference between Amber the fossilized wood resin and Ambergris that originates from the Sperm Whale. However the answer is pretty straight forward, a find of Ambergris is extremely rare but the possibility can never be ruled out.
I did find a lump once and not realizing what it was I left it where I found it because I had found a big lump of mahogany at the same time and I had nowhere to put the Ambergris. The piece I found at the time was about the size of a  misshaped cricket ball and was non nondescript, smelt weird and had what looked like a squid beak embedded in it.Ambergris found on the foreshore is the only part of the Sperm Whale that can be legally owned without informing Natural England otherwise any other part of has to be declared.
It is almost two years since the Sperm Whale was beached in Pegwell Bay and later cut up on the old Hoverport slipway. I have been back to the site this winter and have found another fragment of bone from the chain saw massacre which is now weathering down on my shed roof. When I get around to it I will inform Natural England of the find.
From the sea defence work at Margate I have now got a box of bones and teeth found around the square head of the stone pier. This represent two winters worth of finds and out of that lot  I suspect one fragment as coming from a sea mammal and that is only because of the waxy feel and the density of the bone.
During the past two years I have downloaded so much on the Sperm Whale from around the world that I am tempted to have a go this summer at finding Ambergris , plus a few grand would come in handy.
With 22 miles of Thanet coastline planning searches would really be down to more than likely, less likely and no chance. Very much in the same way as finding Amber (wood resin) as most Amber hunters do have small search areas. The  same I suppose could be said for the sea coal collectors and the areas they work.
I doubt it if I will hit the jackpot but I will give it a good go plus part of the fun is the other finds that do turn up expectantly.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

A cold day on the beach

Northerly  winds have either one of two effects on the main sands at Margate. The sand will either build up in the bay or it will erode. More often that not this time of year there is this tendency for the sand to build up however the reverse can happen with variable winds on spring tides and my recent visit was one such occasion as I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
Photographed above are examples of the finds I made and each item has one thing in common and that is size. Very often on certain winds and tides there seems to be an absence of small items like small shards of broken crockery, earthenware and cullet . This does increase the chance of finding complete items like the earthenware ink on the left of the photograph.Otherwise most items are large broken like the earthenware base in the photograph impressed J.Bourne & Son. Victorian bases along with bottle necks are becoming so common that I now leave more down there than I take home unless I haven't got that example. Only two finds in the photograph are something I have never come across before and that is a strange looking pot that has the lettering APOLLINARIS and the earthenware shard in the bottom right that is heavily  impressed with part   lettering  SANDER?  LO?  STRO?. Both items obviously requiring research just of of interest.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Should we sell off some of the family silver ?

I suppose like most people when watching news items on the television they tend to go in one ear and out of the other. That is unless the item is something closer to home pops up like on Meridian this evening that certainly took my attention. It appears according to reports that many local authorities are sitting on tens of thousands or even millions of pounds of artwork and artifacts, with most of it in storage. Regular readers of my blog will know that art and artifacts in local government control is this obscure subject that I have taken great interest especially in Thanet so they had my attention on this one.

I did find it ironic that after 39 years of chaos that the collection held by Thanet District Council will finally be audited at a time when art and artifacts in local government control are started to be looked at.
One thing is for sure I do have this satisfaction from the audit of knowing that I was right all along and that I have been lied to by a leader of TDC and his deputy and some council officers.
 I think the sad thing about allof this it is that they thought I was being political, being as I am a ex Labour  Councillor , when in fact all I was trying to do was  to put right a great wrong.
I bet even now some people think my motives are political.

However, getting back to my original thread of thought I think that in the near future all local authorities will start looking at the collections of art and artifacts they hold ,  more out of necessity due to cuts in local government funding.  I do not think Thanet District Council will be an exception given the projections for funding in 2014 and the amount of items of a value in the collection. So before a certain independent Councillor on TDC starts giving out the benefit of his wisdom I am going to lay out some factual information.

The TDC collection of art and artifacts came about on 1st April 1974. It comprises of items from the Borough of Margate and the Borough of Ramsgate collections and most of it is housed in the Margate Museum.
At the time of the local government changeover KCC took ownership of the library collections and retained unframed prints and pictures held in Ramsgate, Broadstairs and Margate library collections. At Ramsgate KKC also took into its ownership the Ramsgate town museum that was housed in Ramsgate library.
The charter trustees of Margate and Ramsgate retaining only items of  civic nature from their former borough status.

From Ramsgate, TDC acquired all items from Albion House except civic items that were passed over to the Ramsgate Charter Trustees.
 From Margate , TDC acquired items from Northdown House, Hartsdown House, the Tudor House Museum collection, the Victoria Road library museum collection and items from the Rowe bequest and Parker collection. Like Ramsgate, Margate civic items that were handed over to the Margate charter trustees.
It may sound straight forward but I can assure the reader that the Dunkirk evacuation was better organised. The records were poor, provenance was lost and every organisation received items they should not have had. An example being artifacts from the Parker collection KCC received that should have gone to TDC.

During the seventies and eighties works of art deemed to be valuable came under the control of TDC art department. With the exception of the Albion House items everything  else apart from valuable artwork was to find its way into storage at the old Town Hall building in Margate . With all these items available this led to calls for Margate to open a Museum and in 1987 a Museum was opened at Margate.

From 1987 to 2007 an amalgamation of collections  and items donated  have evolved to what is now known as the Margate Museum Collection which is owned by Thanet District Council that until recently has been a collection in chaos. Late in 2012 volunteers from the newly formed  Friends of the Margate Museum under  TDC  supervision  started to audit the collection of which I have commented on in the previous posting and soon TDC will have a full record of what it owns in this harsh climate . So what could be the future ? I have listed some points to think about to start with.
  1. The Margate Museum collection has items in duplicate, items that have no relevance to the collection or Thanet what so ever and items that have no provenance. Should these be sold off.
  2. Should the Margate Museum dedicate itself entirely to Margate and should all Ramsgate items be returned to Ramsgate their original place of origin 39 years ago now that Ramsgate has a functional Town Council.
  3. There are Broadstairs items in the Margate Museum collection should they find their way back to Broadstairs in the future.