For August’s Object of the Month student curator Christopher Dobbs tells us more about his favourite object on display at the King’s Museum student curated exhibition Victorian Time Spirit of the Age
My favourite object on display is the Leaf-Bladed Bronze Sword (see below) which was owned by the prominent local Victorian gentleman Alexander Thomson. He also displayed it in his very own private museum!
When we were planning the ‘Looking Back’ case of the exhibition Victorian Time: Spirit of the Age we had a multitude of objects to pick from. The museum possesses so many wonderful ancient objects, many of which have links to Victorian collectors. To me this sword showed a part of local history I was not fully aware of, and was completely different to the Roman and Egyptian objects we had also picked.
The sword fascinates me as it a relic from Britain’s past which reveals the magnificent skill bronze workers attained centuries ago. Even today we struggle to replicate bronze working of such a high standard, it really is a lost art.
The sword also possesses a firm link to the Victorians who found and collected it with the inscription detailing its provenance: ‘One of Four found in a Peat-moss near Haddo House and given by LORD ABERDEEN to Mr THOMSON, BANCHORY. 27th Septr 1858.’ Researching further I was fascinated to discover Lord Aberdeen was not only a pre-eminent scholar of the classics and a Knight of the Garter but also a former Prime Minister. Possessing such a wonderful personal gift from such an esteemed statesman was a great honour.
The sword fits nicely into a group of objects that provides a view into many Victorians’ fascination with the past. In this instance the sword shows their awareness of Scotland’s history and previous technological achievements in contrast to other objects which come from more exotic regions or great historical empires.
Victorian Time: Spirit of the Age is displayed in King’s Museum, at the Old Aberdeen Town House until 19th December. King’s Museum is open weekdays from 10am -4pm and Saturdays 11am -4pm. For further details contact King’s Museum, tel. 01224 274330, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.abdn.ac.uk/museums