Thursday, November 17, 2011

Linking the generations

Never underestimate aunts; just ask Bertie Wooster. Unlike Mr Wooster though, my aunts have tended to be fairly pleasant coves and one has outdone herself this week. A parcel from same arrived in the post yesterday, and unwrapping it revealed to my wondering eye the following:
One virtually pristine No.260 tape measure by Rabone & Sons.

In its slightly battered, but rather fetching original box.

All complete even unto the care instructions.

Wow. I mean wow. But that's not the best bit by any, um, measure. No, sir. 'Cos this well-cared for tape belonged to a Master Plasterer from Southampton; none other than my Great Grandfather. I had assumed all his tools were long gone - and indeed, all the others are - but this one survives. Result!

Plus I got a little extra history about him as a bonus. Apparently he did the ornate plasterwork for Rothschild's house at Exbury. Rothschild? Heck, he must have good at his job, methinks. Gotta say that's a heck of a better legacy than the one my generation will leave. "What did Great Grandpa do? He was an accountant..."

Anyway, two other things beyond "This is pretty cool" struck me. Firstly, the irony that a tool has been handed down the female line. Secondly, that maybe not all white spots on old tools are paint. Maybe some of them are plaster...


  1. WOW is right!

    Both in "the find" and in the consideration of "Aunt Bertie."

    Of course, inquiring minds have questions. Never having handled such a tape, I'm curious about its construction. What material is the shell made of?

    Like many old tools, imagining how it might have been used is a great part of the pleasure of owning it. Enjoy.

    Bob Easton

  2. .

    Quality kit in anybody's terms.

    Howard in Wales


  3. Now that is beautiful. And I lurv the box. If only goods were packaged as attractively these days.

    Exbury is just down the road from me. I'll have to go and see if the plasterwork is available for public viewing.


  4. Bob
    I bet that shell is not metal but leather (or perhaps it's "composition").
    Am I right Alf?

    Michael Smith

  5. You are, Michael; 'tis leather. As it happens I had a defunct one that I deconstructed earlier this year (to save the brass parts, y'know, "just in case...") and they are incredibly tough cases. Cricket ball-esque.

    Evergreen, alas while it seems Exbury Gardens are open to the public (And famous, it seems. Just not to me!) the house is still a private resident. Anyone know a Rothschild socially? Regretably I don't move in those kinds of circle myself...

  6. Alf,

    This stirred up a bunch of old memories. I had forgotten it until now, but my Dad used to have a tape measure identical to this. When I was six or seven and accompanied him on some task or other, I got the job of rewinding the tape with the little handle in the middle. I can almost smell the leather!

    Thanks for the memories!


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