gadgets from the Victorian period|
Maurice Collins is an avid
collector of strange Victorian gadgets.
He shows Sadie Nine a selection
of them, including a skirt lifter and hat machine.
One hundred and fifty
of his pieces are on display at Peterborough Museum and Art Gallery until March
Inside Out goes inside Collins' weird world of gadgets.
Maurice Collins lives in a slightly surreal world surrounded
by all his eccentric contraptions.
Hes the world authority on strange
devices, in particular, antique gadgets.
Maurice has even written two books
about the items that were designed to make life a little easier, for people living
over 100 or more years ago.
"Ive just bought this item; its
a match holder and striker, a cigar cutter and also a bell! And this is a skirt
" Maurice explains as he persuades Sadie to demonstrate how it
Maurice has been collecting these strange items for more than 30
He started off when his son was small, wondering around Victorian
rubbish dumps looking for the ultimate antique lemonade bottle:
I got the bottle, I began to look at other things. There were other bottles that
were painted and the concept of items being sold across the shop counter in that
period began to fascinate me.
"I looked around and found a Victorian
knife cleaner, a lemon squeezer, all very, very peculiar
Maurice is intrigued by the look of the items he collects. He
likes objects that look very sculptural, are mechanical and also a little bit
Hes not even sure what some items are, so spends his time doing
research at the Patent Office to try to identify them.
for tea - a tea dispenser from the collection|
has bought things that turn out to be totally different to what he thought they
Maurices collection is made up of time saving devices with a
"The pride of my collection is a teasmaid. To work it you set
"The alarm goes off - it pushes a lever, which pushes a
lever, which pushes another lever - causing a match to strike some sandpaper which
then lights the heater and then boils the water. When its boiled, it pours
into the teapot..!"
He has hundreds of contraptions in his north London
home, which make it feel a bit like an antique parlour.
Many of his best
items have now been lent out to museums.
not all of Maurices prized possessions are completely eccentric.
Park Museum in Milton Keynes boasts some of his more practical gadgets such as
a mangle and one of the first ever food processors.
But collectors who have
it all still want more; something very, very rare and very, very strange.
the clock - a practical memo clock|
Maurice talks of a "machine
that tattooed deserters in 1810, with the letter D on their forehead"
that he would like to own.
Quite by surprise he hears news that suggests
this machine has shown up
somewhere in Portobello Market.
doesnt know which stall has the item but he knows his way around.
Maurice could easily be way-laid by lots of curious items and strange knick knacks
that Portobello Market is famous for, but there is still no sign of the rare Deserter
until he suddenly gets a tip off.
who deals in antique scientific instruments says hes got one of them.
tracks the machine down and sees a demonstration on how it works. It costs £2,800.
for now, Maurice says: "I think Ill have to start saving up my pennies..."
credit: the images in this feature are taken from Maurice Collins' books Ingenious
Gadgets and Eccentric Contraptions.
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