LISTICLES

Regular readers of this blog will know that I love ‘coins on the palm of the hand pictures’, simply because I can hone up on my fortune telling abilities. The hand is always in focus and the lines pin-sharp. Doesn’t matter about the teeny blurred coin.

A couple of years ago I published what follows. I was reminded by my Texas buddy and doppelgänger Dick Stout, Keeper of Blog Standards, who had enjoyed the post. It also gives me a great cop-out by repeating scribblings you’ve seen before.

LISTICLES

You may not recognise the word, but I’m sure that you will recognise the genre

10 celebrities who have aged badly; 20 ways to insult someone without cursing; 15 signs that you are not a nice person, or 10 things to make out of a discarded Garrett probe boxes’.

You get the gist; the world seems to have gone list crazy. But it makes for lazy writing … and easier to do a blog post, of course! Not only that, listicles suit hard-pressed writers and time-poor readers. At the end of the day it’s a win-win situation, innit?

With this in mind, I have been looking closely at the listicles that regularly frequent newspapers, magazines and the Web. For those who don’t know, the word is made up of ‘list’ and ‘article’. Followers of Lewis Carroll will recognise the form as a ‘portmanteau’ word. The Oxford Dictionary defines the word as ‘an article that takes the form of a numbered or bullet-pointed list.’

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Just a Button . . .

BEDFORD REFORMATORY BUTTON

The Bedford Button – Courtesy of Joe Tilt

‘Just a button’ is how Joe Tilt described one of his recent finds when writing on a detecting forum. In a way he was apologising to the members for ‘only’ finding a button. There was no need. His find was much more interesting than a hammered coin or Roman brooch where information is sparse or non-existent. The humble button spoke volumes and told us a lot about our recent social history.

Today we have Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOS) but in the middle 1800’s we had reformatory schools, a way to provide care for children involved in criminal or anti-social behaviour. In later times these young people were referred to as ‘juvenile delinquents’. It was a humble die-stamped two-piece copper-alloy button from an item of reformatory clothing Joe had unearthed.

Bedford Reformatory School, a penal institution for young offenders, was opened in 1857, with room for 30 boys. Its purpose was to provide an alternative to prison. The inscription BEDFORD REFORMATORY is surrounded around a beehive (called a skep) surrounded by flying bees and has a simple looped wire shank, not back-marked. Similar depictions of bees flying around the skep –   symbolising industry, diligence and effort and the concept that work is rewarding, can be found on many late 18th century tokens.

IBAISAIC


*Rusty and in a Sorry State

In a previous post I looked at the detectorists’ database, the UKDFD. The item I revisited was a pen or fruit knife found in Aston Clinton, Buckinghamshire.  Another good example of a find telling us a lot about our social history. *‘Rusty and in a Sorry State’ doesn’t refer to me!

The picture below show a clean knife, but it was rusty and in a sorry state when rescued. Should have taken a ‘clod shot’ or video, but it wasn’t the fashion then. We were primarily metal detectorists with enough to lug around without a mountain of movie gear. In retrospect I regret not taking a ‘before’ shot showing its condition before cleaning.

Mrs John worked wonders with her diligent restoration and conservation skills so it now looks in almost pristine condition. Some details were easy to record. For example, it has a mother-of-pearl handle with two ‘stainless steel’ blades made by Fisher in Sheffield. But I was intrigued by the letters or meaningless word, IBAISAIC . What could it mean? Finding out proved to be a little more difficult.

I searched Mr Google with few positive results and it wasn’t until I proudly (well, I was a rookie swinger at that time) showed my find on a detecting forum that all was explained . . . by a former vacuum cleaner repair man! He told me that knives of this type were given by Hoover salesmen as gifts to retailers in the late 1930’s. This information has been confirmed by the manufacturer who told me to ‘take care of it because it’s a collector’s item.’ I’ve seen one for sale on eBay at £40 – £60.

The original presentation box. Found on Etsy UK.
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