Friday 17 August 2012

Fire Fighting Collectables

It's funny how when you find and buy an interesting collectable item, other items in the same theme just keep popping up. This has happened to me recently with fire fighting collectables.

We were looking for  something fire fighting related to give to our eldest son, Laurence (Laurie), as a gift for graduating as a Firefighter with Queensland Fire & Rescue Service. The Sunshine Coast Antique and Collectables show was on so we thought this would be a good place to look for that special gift. This was way back in May this year. Fortunately, we found a nice brass and copper fire hose nozzle at the show. The stall holder happened to be a volunteer fire fighter in a country town a couple of hours north west of Brisbane. We agreed on a price and happily took home our first fire fighting collectable. This was proudly presented to Laurie a short time later.

The fire hose nozzle (quite a large one - over 60cm in length)
Laurie had always had a dream of being a fireman, right from when he was a little kid. Now after many  years of hard work, he had now achieved his dream. Well done Laurie. We are very proud of you and your achievements.

Laurie in his fire fighting gear after a night time demonstration
Laurie with his proud parents at his graduation
The next fire fighting collectable came to me as a gift. A good friend of ours was having a clean up and rang to say she had a few antique things that we might like to have. Of course, I was ready to go straight away to check them out (even though I was rather sick at the time). I didn't want to pass up an opportunity like this and a bit of sickness wasn't about to stop me.

One of the items she had was an old copper and brass fire extinguisher complete with hose and nozzle. I had always wanted one of these but was never prepared to pay the antique shop asking prices. This one needs a good polish but overall is in great condition. Unfortunately it doesn't have any brand name on it.

The third fire fighting collectable find is a fire hose standpipe. I was lucky to find this at the recent Nambour Swap Meet. This was the first swap meet that I had actually attended and I was surprised at the sheer size of it. This meet is put on annually by the Sunshine Coast Antique Car Club.

The stand pipe and fire extinguisher
Standpipes like these are used by firemen to connect into the fire hydrant in the ground. We have one on the footpath in front of our home. Standpipes are part of the standard equipment on a fire engine. This one has a name, of what was probably the fire chief of the station, and date impressed into it in three places. They obviously didn't want any components to go missing. The name is L R GRASSET and the date is 1942. It also has a makers mark moulded into it. The Makers mark is for J. DANKS & SON PTY LTD, MAKERS, MELBOURNE. They have been in the plumbing and engineering business for over 150 years and are still going today. You can read a bit about their history in this link.

Apparently this standpipe is still fully functional. The stall holder told me that his next door neighbour recently used it to connect into a fire hydrant to wash down his house.

Detail of the top of the standpipe
Detail of makers mark
And again on the copper part
And even impressed into the painted brass section
What will be the next piece of fire fighting memorabilia to come my way? Perhaps more extinguishers, a fireman's helmet or even a fire truck? Hopefully this collection will end up with Laurie.

Friday 10 August 2012

Vintage Garden Edge Tiles

As mentioned in an earlier post, I not only collect bricks but I also collect garden edge tiles. Garden edge tiles were very popular in the Victorian and Edwardian eras. They were used as a decorative means to separate gardens from paths and lawned areas. Garden edge tiles make a good addition to a brick collection as they were generally manufactured by the brickworks.

Below are two photos of garden edge tiles in use.

Antique glazed French garden edge tiles (wish these were mine)

More garden edge tiles in action (not mine unfortunately)

Now for the tiles in my own collection.

The first tile is one that I bought from the same bottle show where I bought my first old bricks from almost 30 years ago. It is a fairly common design and is unmarked. I found the smaller half size version of this tile many years later at a second hand / junk shop at Caloundra. The shop was in the old Moffat Beach cinema, which I believe is now demolished. Does anyone remember this shop? I can even remember going to see an old Norman Wisdom movie at this cinema about 45 years ago.

I believe this next garden edge tile came from the same bottle show as the first one. It's a bit similar in design to the others tiles and like them is also unmarked.

The next two garden edge tiles were also found at the bottle show, 30 years ago. They are more decorative than the first ones and probably a good deal older. I would guess that these tiles are from the Victorian era, i.e.. late 1800s. They look as though they could have been made by one of the Sydney or some other NSW brickworks, possibly Lithgow Pottery? Can anyone help me here?

These two tiles also clearly show the difference between what would be under the ground (the plain flat section) and what would be seen above the ground (the decorative part). Apparently the tiles were meant to be buried more than half their depth for stability. The photo below is of an early cigarette card of mine showing how garden edge tiles were meant to be laid. Not much of these tiles are left protruding above ground level.

This card is from a Garden Hints set put out by WD & HO Wills in 1938
My Cigarette Card Album of Garden Hints
My album open at the page of the "Laying Edging Tiles" card

The first of the next two tiles was given to me by a friend from my bottle and collectables club. It was made by James Campbell & Sons, Brisbane and is clearly marked as such. The second tile is also one that I picked up from that early bottle show with the other tiles. This tile has no markings whatsoever yet it is almost identical to the James Campbell & Sons tile.
Below is a photo showing these two tiles next to each other. Was this unmarked tile also made by James Campbell & Sons? I am sure it probably was but I don't know why it is unmarked.

This last garden edge tile is another from James Campbell & Sons, Brisbane. My friend also gave me this one.

It is a hope of mine to one day find enough garden edge tiles to completely edge our cottage garden which we have planned for our front yard.

Please feel free to comment if you have any information that could help in the identification of my garden edge tiles.

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