Hi all, Happy Easter

Sorry I didn’t blog last week, things ran away with me a bit! Dead Man Junior came home from University for a few days and we spent time with him. Then I had a grand tour to drop him off which involved travelling  from Norfolk to Warwick via Bedfordshire (to stay the night with my parents) and back. I even drove on the motorway, we don’t have motorways in Norfolk so that was a challenge!

Before, the lenses in their original wrappers.

Anyway, I am now back at Deadmen Towers ready to enjoy Easter. This year the Easter bunny didn’t bring us any chocolate, (probably a good thing, we are both getting a little rounded these days) but he did bring an exciting present for us to unwrap! It was a beautiful optician’s testing set in a lovely wooden case made by the optical supplies company Hamblin.  It is personalised with the name of J Briffa Boothman, which luckily for us is very unusual, making research relatively easy. We discovered that Joseph Briffa Boothman was born in 1931 and graduated from Malta Medical School in 1955.

The set is in excellent condition, and all the test lenses were individually wrapped in paper. The set consists of the whole range of concave (minus) lenses and convex (plus) lenses. There are also coloured lenses, prism lenses and lenses to test for cylinder which have frosted out sections. The frames shown in the photo are test frames which the optician slotted the test lenses into.

As we started to unwrap the lenses, it soon became obvious that they were wrapped in paper from the 1950s. It is quite something to know that we were were the first people to handle those lenses for about 65 years. We found a a whole load of clues about Mr Briffa Boothman’s life including a receipt dated 1957 and a slip from the Ophthalmic Department at The General Infirmary at Leeds. There were also several other confectionary wrappers and paper bags from a sweet shop, stationers and bakers. This lead us to believe that Mr Briffa Bothman had a sweet tooth and was living and working in Leeds.

After, the lenses all sorted and unwrapped.

The interesting questions for us were why had this testing set never been unwrapped or used since 1958 and where has it been all these years?  We will never know, perhaps Mr Briffa Boothman was planning to train as an optician but decided to practise another branch of medicine instead. He obviously went to a lot of trouble wrapping the set up, this is the great thing about working with vintage stock is that you find items which are time capsules offering tantalising glimpses into social history and other people’s lives. We are keeping the paper bags and receipts  to research the companies for our next blog. Did you know that waggon wheels have been around since 1948?

I hope you enjoy Easter Monday

All the best Claire AKA Mrs Dead Man