I made a trip yesterday to UK Architectural Heritage to pick up a fireplace for Balintore Castle. It turned out to be the best architectural reclaim establishment I have ever visited both in terms of item range and item quality, and a couple of hours just disappeared in absolute enchantment as I looked around. Thankfully, I have tight control of the castle budget and just bought a couple of additional small inexpensive items: a pair of marble roundels to replace those missing from another fireplace I already have and a brass "helmet" coal scuttle. However, I suspect I will be visiting again - there were a number of larger items which would suit Baltimore Castle very well indeed.
|the helmet coal scuttle I purchased|
"Helmet" coal scuttles are so-called as they look like upside-down military helmets. A misguided attempt to "try it on for size" ended up with the scuttle dropping totally and unceremoniously down over my head. I emerged sheepishly with coal-smuts gracing my face in best chimney-sweep tradition.
|the scuttle's marker's mark|
Anyhow, the maker's mark on the scuttle "BENETFINK&Co." is particularly clear. How very odd: the company, a large retail business which located at 89-90 Cheapside, London, from c1845 to 1907, was named after the parish "Benet Fink" in London. Further web-surfing provided an explanation. In 1844 the Benetfink company was established by a young man who had been found as a baby on the steps of St. Benet Fink's church in the city of London. This baby was given the saints name of Benetfink. I could not resist including the following poster from 1852 advertising his store:
|a poster for Benetfink&Co.|
The copy is sheer genius and works equally well today. My favourite section runs thus:
THAT WE CAN FURNISH A MANSION IS DEMONSTRATED BY THE CONTINUED
PATRONAGE OF THE NOBILITY AND GENTRY
And to prove we can also suit the necessary and judicious economy of those moving in a more humble sphere, we are
enabled actually to
FURNISH AN EIGHT-ROOMED HOUSE FOR FIVE POUNDS,
ARTICLES, TOO, OF THE BEST QUALITY AND WORKMANSHIP
How I would love to go back in time and step through the portals of Benetfink&Co. It would be a fabulous way to furnish the castle. Given the dates of operation of the company, it is likely that the coal scuttle is of the correct period for the castle. There are sometimes recreated Victorian street scenes in museums. If memory serves, both the Museum of York and the Museum of London have one. And just for a precious moment, it is possible to imagine yourself about to walk through the door of one of the shop frontage set-ups, to purchase the treasures inside.