Thursday, 2 August 2012

Let Bygones be Bygones

May I be permitted to do a little crowd sourcing (now an Olympic Sport for organizers after the empty seats fiasco)?

The other day we purchased a job lot of knobs and knockers (no, please...) many of which were manufactured by Archibald Kenrick & Sons of Union Street Birmingham. This magnificent firm is (atypically) still going strong having started life as an iron founder in 1791, a reminder of our wonderful history of "making things" in the days before "workshops" used flip-charts and insurance policies became "products".

One of the items in the box is a hinged casting with the maker's name, "No 8" (possibly) and the numbers 4 1/4 x 3 3/8 which is the backplate size in inches. It looks like some sort of bell push but the lever side is obviously the exposed side as it has been painted.

Any ideas of a sensible or non-sensible nature would be appreciated.....





25 comments:

Roses said...

I'm afraid you'll have to have a non-sensible response from me.

No change there.

Martin said...

It looks like an early sink plug-hole and plug.

Mike and Ann said...

Hello Rog. I suppose it might be a bell push, but I think it more likely that it is a form of loo flush to be inset into a portable military campaign article, of mahogany box shape, probably around the middle of the 19th century. Incidentally, I've just been checking Roderick Butler's book on Marked Domestic Brass, and he says that the firm was started by Edward Kendrick, of London, in 1781, but that Matthew Kendrick and Jonathan Kendric are listed separately as brass founders in Pigot's 1835 Birmingham Directory.

Mike and Ann said...

P.s. Something like Apthorpe's Thunderbox, from Evelyn WAugh's Sword of Honour trilogy.

Rog said...

Roses: You might at least have said "First!"

Martin: Good idea but certainly not watertight on its own. Much like most of my ideas...

Mike & Ann: Ah, the Thunderbox! Flushed with early success! Thank you young Sir, that will open a new line of enquiry.

Crowbard said...

Hello Rog,
Your three casting assembly appears to be of iron, copper plated outside and pitch-painted inside for economical prevention of condensation/rusting. The ring-shaped casting hinged at the top seems to be a carrying or opening handle. The central hinged button when pressed would have moved the hooked lever upwards and gravity would return it to its closed state.
From the shape of the hook I would guess it was a latch that prevented the panel into which it was set from falling forwards and when down this latch would have hooked over a peg or dowel or into a slot in a panel set back from the outer panel or casing.
All indications are that it was made for use in pairs on movable and possibly multi-part furniture such as commodes, campaign chests or ice-boxes. The holes in the main casting appear cylindrical suggesting it was intended to be attached to the furniture by round-headed rather than counter-sunk wood-screws.
The Armoury’s suggestion of a military campaign thunderbox has particular merit… but not as part of the cistern operation.
Just a guess though,
Crowbard

Crowbard said...

PS
other possible uses include latches for upright piano front panels to allow the tuner access or street piano & pianola panel latches to facilitate changing cylinders and maintenance, church organ bellows access panels etc.
Crowbard.

Mike and Ann said...

Hello Crowbard. I cannot fault Crowbard's reasoning - the more so as military campaign chests are usually built in two halves, one on top of the other. Two such devices of the kind that you illustrate, one each side of the chest, would hold it together perfectly. I don't much care for Victoriana generally, but I am lost in admiration of their ingenuity!!!!
Regards, Mike.

Mike and Ann said...

Although I do remember being shown an automatic piano playing device (again Victorian) which would be pushed to the front of an ordinary piano, latched securely onto it with a couple of devices like yours, wound up, and the lever thrown, the whole thing then sprang to life and played whatever tune you'd inserted (on a slotted paper roll). This heavy device effectively enabled any piano to be turned into a pianola, and saved the owner the trouble and expense of learning to play the piano.

Oh well Rog - we've given you several ideas to choose from!

Rog said...

Well hello Mr Crowbard and thanks to you and Mike - I knew I could rely on the Holmes and Mycroft of Blogging to pick this problem up and wrestle it to the ground.

Many thanks to the pair of you!

Macy said...

It's a grommet. Any fule kno this. You can tell by the gromett top.

Crowbard said...

Dear Macy,
you present a very convincing argument and the ring-handle does have a slight grommeticality (see 'The Geometry of Grommets' Einstein, Crowbard et al. 1928 Finkhorn Press). However, grommets are usually (and in my experience, invariably) moulded from rubber or some similarly flexible compound in order for them to be fitted into holes smaller than they are. While applauding your erudition and expertise in grommetology might I perhaps suggest a slight kerbing of your most laudable grommetological enthusiasm?
All kindly blessings, Crowbard.

Tim Footman said...

Rog: your blog appears to have been invaded by people who actually know stuff and have sensible contributions to make to the discussion. If you keep lobbing rocks at them from the battlements, I'll prepare the boiling oil.

Rog said...

Macy: I think you'll find the purpose of the Grommet was cracking cheese. I've crow-barred that one in....

Tim: Reminds me of my first step on the career ladder doing window cleaning on a large office block with a chap called Tony. "Your job is to lower Tone" I was advised.

Sir Bruin said...

Er, yeah, wot Mike said

Mike and Ann said...

Thank you, Sir Bruin. If ever I feel the need to engage a 'heavy' to back me in one of these discussions with that Crowbard - you get the job.
It is, of course, an honorary position........ That is, it carries a certain amount of kudos, but is,I'm sorry to admit, errr, how shall I put this......... unpaid.

Crowbard said...

Dear Rog,
I note your tasteful response to Macy and would refer you to Einstein & Crowbard's other publication, 'The Manifold Applications of the Grommet'; Regretably Uncle Albert and I missed cheese-cracking from our otherwise universal list. While extremely grateful that you have added to our endeavours I would emphasise that the Cheese-cracking grommet is a singular and special case of very recent discovery somewhat akin to the Higg's Boson but much more frequently observed (particularly in the company of Wallace on TV).
Deepest Respects,
Crowbard

Rog said...

Dear Mr Crowbard,
Your homage to my great hero, Professor Stanley Unwin, is much appreciated. Like Higg's Boson it is part tickle.
deep joy
Rog

allotmentqueen said...

Inkpot cover came to mind.

mig bardsley said...

I'm just laughing a lot. But my first thought (well out of date now) was that the owners of the grommet didn't know either and painted it on the wrong side.

Mike and Ann said...

Who is this Higgs female whose bosom you and Crowbard keep talking about? I don't think it's very gallant to talk about a lady's bosom on a public blog. I shall remonstrate with Crowbard when I see him.

Pat said...

As someone once said - that's for me to know and you to find out.

Rog said...

AQ: It DOES look a bit like that!

Mig: I hope they didn't splash it on the wrong trousers

Mike: Sorry I hadn't kept abreast of the comments. The Higgs lady has moved from Cerne to Diss and and now indiscernable.

Pat: D'Oh!

Crowbard said...

Oh Rog, you do know how to raise a merry titter.

jonstorey said...

It is quite obviously a thingy-ma-jig...!