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THE MONDAY SUPPLEMENT: FAMILY: WHY I LOVE MY...: TAKING A SHINE TO ORNAMENTS.

Byline: WORDS: RACHEL PINDER

... BRASS COLLECTION

RETIRED foster carer Shirley Williams, aged 64, has been collecting brass ornaments for the past 30 years.

She now has a collection of 35, which she keeps around her house in Tiverton Road, Wyken.

Shirley lives with her husband Roy, aged 70, and the couple have a daughter, Rachel, aged 34.

I STARTED collecting brass ornaments when my brother Stanley bought me a brass miner's lamp from Blaenavon in Wales.

I've now got 35 in my collection, but I had to give a few of them to charity shops because I had nowhere to put them all.

I've got all sorts of brass ornaments, including a double decker bus which is 30 years old, a Sky Blues keyring, a shoe horn, a post box money box, a turtle, plates, mugs, a kettle and a bell.

I've also got two keys which were part of a set, but I had nowhere to keep them all so I gave them away.

There used to be a stall in Coventry market where I used to get them, but I also get given them from family and friends at Christmas and birthdays.

I also used to go over to Birmingham market before it was all altered, where there was a big brass shop. I thought the ornaments were a lot more interesting and unusual, after I got bored with horse brasses.

The dearest one was something like pounds 40. My favourite is one I picked up from a hardware shop in the Cotswolds on a day out. It's a dragon, and it was pounds 12.99.

The oldest one is a globe musical box, which is about 40 years old. I got it on holiday about 40 years ago, when we were in Gibraltar on our first cruise.

I had a brass party about 20 years ago, where everyone brought brass bells with them, and we had the chance to buy other brass ornaments. It was a bit like a tupperware party.

They take a lot of polishing, and they should be done once every four weeks. My husband Roy does it."

Roy said: "I use vinegar to get right into the grooves. I usually do it once a month and it takes me a couple of mornings.

"It's quite tiring but it's worth it in the end, when you see the results."

Factfile

BRASS CLASS

BRASS is made by combining copper and zinc at a high temperature.

SINCE Elizabethan times there had been various attempts to produce brass in Britain - all these failed to produce brass in commercial quantities. So all brassware had to be imported from the continental region which is now on the Dutch-German border.

MERCHANTS based in London had a royal monopoly on importing and re- exporting of all this Dutch brassware and attempted to block the establishment of commercial brass manufacture in Britain.

DURING the 17th century, and especially after the English Revolution, there was a shift in national policy, where merchants were becoming less and less influential over state policy making. A new breed of capitalist entrepreneur was gaining more influence, and parliament became increasingly keen on promoting capitalist profit and the exploitation of human and natural resources on a world scale.

THE Mines Royal Act of 1689 saw an end to the royal monopoly of brass making.

1698 saw English copper makers petitioning parliament to protest against the import of Swedish copper. That year also saw the end of the London Merchants monopoly of the Royal West Africa slave trade, and Bristol's own lucrative trade in slaves and its expansion of trade with the colonies took off.

AT this time there was an awareness in Britain that combining zinc (using the ore calamine) and copper produced brass. But there was no scientific understanding of the processes involved and, as impure ore and not pure zinc was used, there were great difficulties in getting the correct proportions of zinc to copper to produce different types of brass.

CAPTION(S):

METAL TREASURES: Shirley Williams with her collection of brass ornaments Pictures by DARRYL SMITH
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Jun 2, 2003
Words:681
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