Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Festival London, 1951/2011

It seems a long time since our bloggers' meet-up in London, but I've got great memories of the day, and I never really told you all about it when I got home, as things were so crazy at the end of term! Now is a good day to talk about this, though:As a very enthusiastic new subscriber to BBC Homes and Antiques (it's really good - have you tried it recently?), I knew all about the 60th Anniversary celebrations of the Festival of Britain, held in the original location at the Southbank Centre. H & A Mag had prepared the 1951 room, which was pretty good, except they'd reckoned without Ang, who spotted that they were playing 1960s music! Apart from that it was accurate - see her review here!The Southbank Centre was full of people being taught how to Lindyhop (what?), and as we had a little while to wait for Ang (it's a long story...) we sat and watched the dancers,
becoming progressively more accomplished and lively!
The Festival of Britian was a symbol of two things - the 100th anniversary of the Great Exhibition, and the rejuvination of Britain and British design after the Second World War.
Women from London who'd had no previous sewing experience were invited to join together for training and produced this commemorative quilt out of still-rationed fabric. I picked out two key dates which particularly spoke to me, as a teacher:
and as a woman!
I was intrigued by all the Festival memorabilia, as I'd found a fantastic leather box bearing the Festival logo in the piano stool at my father's house. Either my grandma or my mum must have 'picked it up', either at the Festival itself (I don't know if my grandma went, she may have done) or later. It had a plastic liner showing that it held something small and rather spherical. So, not either of these:
And not these either, although I thought it was worth getting a photo!
These are the things my mum and dad would have been given, if they'd ever gone there...
Here are souvenirs for men - really snazzy!
And here is the other thing I was really interested in: Festival Headscarves.
I snapped a photo of the explanition for why these were so popular - it's well worth clicking on the picture to enlarge it if you're interested in fashion history.
I was researching these in particular because my mum also left us two Festival of Britian scarves in her collection.
Neither look much like these examples, which shows how many, and how diverse, the headscarves were.
My mum used to pick up things like these ('unconsidered trifles' at the time) because she realised they contained design and social history, and had potential investment value. She did sell a lot over the years - horrible Victorian things she'd snapped up in the 1960s became charming Victorian pieces in the 1980s!
My sister was intrigued when I pointed out (thanks to BBC Homes and Antiques) that NOW was the time to realise the (probably small) investment value of the three Festival of Britain pieces we'd found. We decided to collaborate together to sell them on ebay - she's a registered seller, and, as you know, I can write Vintage blurb.
With this weekend seeing the Vintage at the Southbank Festival (it WOULD be lovely to be there...), my sister has posted the first of our vintage scarves on ebay. It will be most interesting to see how the bidding goes - it feels like we're continuing something for our mother here...


marigold jam said...

I went to the exhibition too though time was short and I fully intend to go back for another look when we are in London overnight before going by train to Paris in August. My husband is interested to see the exhibition as he remembers going to the Festival back in 1951. I remember hearing about it and I had a postcard from somebody depicting it but I didn't go myself.

Hope you get a good price for your Mum's scarves - she would be pleased to know they are so valued now.

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello Floss:
We have a 1951 Festival of Britain 5/- piece which we treasure and it was so interesting to look at all the other bits and bobs of memorabilia from that time. If only one had the space, perhaps it is a good idea to save everything since it is extraordinary how even the most commonplace of items, with the passage of time, become collectables.

Sherri B. said...

I hurried over to ebay to see and there are 2 bids exciting for you and sis and nice that you can carry on for your mom! It would be fun if you would let us know how it goes. xo

polkadotpeticoat said...

I love the ties and scarves!

Elizabethd said...

I remember the excitement of the Festival of Britain, but didnt get there. We did have commemmorative mugs, but goodness knows where they are now.

Angela said...

Good to see the bids are coming in - keep us posted on the progress of the scarf.
It was a LOVELY day with you and the others - thanks again for setting it up! x

Pomona said...

It looks so interesting - I am so sad that I had to leave you early that day.

Pomona x

A Trifle Rushed said...

What a wonderful exhibition. I loved the detail on the scarves, which all look fab!