Posts Tagged ‘Natural History Museum’

Famous footsteps, incredible journeys: Happy New Darwin Anniversary Year 2011 – 175 years on, and a bit more of our Victorian Time Safari …

January 2, 2011

It’s 175 years this year since Charles Darwin returned to Britain at the end of his five-year voyage, just as the Victorian period was beginning. He had spent his last Christmas 1835 away from home and was heading back in HMS Beagle for the final part of his epic voyage of discovery. He still had much of Australia, New Zealand, Keeling Islands, Mauritius, Cape Town in South Africa, St. Helena, Ascension Island and Brazil (again) to visit before reaching Britain. Many of these countries, especially the islands, mark the anniversary of his famous visit with postage stamps.

By October 2nd, 1836 he would be back on land in Falmouth and heading home by mail coach

Plaque marking spot of Darwin's landfall from HMS Beagle voyage, Oct 2 1836 in Falmouth and his departure home by coach.

A plaque set up by Falmouth Town Council and Falmouth Art Gallery marks the point where he made landfall in Falmouth and waited for the mail coach home. Within a year, a new Queen would be on the throne and a new era of scientific, agricultural and technological revolution begun. Lots of developments had happened in technology and society whilst he had been away, not least the beginnings of railway mania, so that the very coach he travelled on was soon to become obsolete as public transport within his lifetime.

The penny post and Penny Black stamp were only a few years aways in 1840. By the time he died in 1882, telegraph communication was widespread and telephones in their infancy. The first petrol engine vehicles were in development. Cinema experiments were beginning. Iron and steam had replaced wood and sail in modern ships. Darwin lived through an amazing century, which set the pace for the developments since.

There’s a 2009 news story and photos about the Darwin’s landfall plaque in Falmouth  http://www.thisiscornwall.co.uk/news/falmouth/Plaque-marks-Darwin-landfall/article-1636415-detail/article.html

Sadly since this was put up, Brian Stewart the curator of Falmouth Art Gallery has sadly died in December 2010, much missed by  the Newquay Zoo staff with whom he worked extensively on Darwin 200 activities. Many tributes can be read to his work in the Falmouth Packet newspaper. Newquay Zoo staff were already planning a follow-up to Darwin 200 based around nonsense poet and animal painter Edward Lear’s bicentenary in May 2012.    

Darwin is not the only eminent Victorian to have his landing-place marked in Cornwall. We’ve included it as part of our Victorian Time Safari, looking at the legacy of Darwin’s Victorian times around us. What can you see in your village, town or city from Victorian times?

We spotted this unusual footprint when arriving by boat ferry at St. Michael’s Mount in Cornwall, that magical castle in the sea that Darwin would have passed on his route into Falmouth just up the coast.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert 's royal visit marked by bronze plaque near her 'footstep' at St. Michaels' Mount, Cornwall (Photo: Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo)

Nearby, Truro station has all the ornate ironwork of a Victorian station still, including its VR Victorian post box. Nearby, Truro station has all the ornate ironwork of a Victorian station still, including its VR Victorian post box. On a recent Dublin trip, we saw a Victorian explorer commemorated not in stamps but in a lifesize bronze statue. What Victorain memorials or  inventions can you find in your area?

Ornate Victorian ironwork, Truro rail station, Cornwall, 2010Ornate decorative Victorian ironwork, Truro rail station, Cornwall, 2010Victorian statue of explorer / surgeon TH Parke from Stanley's expeditions in Africa, outside Dublin Natural History Museum

Christmas post and gingerbread postmen from the Darwin 200 Stamp Zoo team

December 21, 2009

Sweet talk, toy soldiers and postage stamps  

Happy Christmas and holidays from the Darwin Stamp Zoo team.   

Victorian Christmas toys (for boys?) Kipling's red coated Soldiers of The Queen and Empire, zoo keepers (original lead W. Britains and modern versions) and Victorian Duke of Cornwall Light Infantry (volunteer) badges. Look carefully for khaki suited soldiers, camouflage adapted from animals. Newquay Zoo's Victorian Life collection, displayed on Darwin's Big Beard Birthday Bash weekend, February 2009Homecast 54mm traditional toy soldier 'modern' versions of these toys can be made using Prince August moulds.

Seasonal tips 

Much of our Modern Christmas dates back to Victorian times and Mr Dickens. Darwin is known to have read early Dickens books with his young wife Emma. Darwin was very much a family man, and loved playing with his children. (Read Annie’s Box by Randal Keynes and weep!) He was far from the stern, strict, distant , dictatorial Victorian dad we typecast Victorian men as being.

As well as collecting Christmas stamps and Christmas cards (invented by Henry Cole in the 1840s) you could spend your Christmas telling  or reading ghost stories, watch a Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens at the cinema (invented by Victorians) or  look out for Oliver! on television. There are  Cranford Christmas specials (Victorian 1840s Northern life by Mrs. Gaskell) or the wonderful BBC Victorian Farm series of Christmas specials.

As with Darwin, there are lots of stamp issues of Dickens and a bicentenary coming up in 2012. Another chance to use the Darwin stamp book resource and teaching tips – Dickens and Darwin  make a fascinating comparison timeline of rich and poor. 

To keep busy at Christmas, three ideas from the Darwin Stamp Zoo team  

adapted from the DFEE / DCSF parents as partners leaflets  

Recipe and ideas adapted  by the Darwin 200 stamp zoo team from http:// www.parents.dfee.gov.uk/discover (original weblink sadly no longer available) 

That’s entertainment 

Victorian children didn’t have radios, TVs, videos or computers – they had to make their own entertainment. Your child might be surprised how many familiar toys and games date back to Victorian times. 

Street games were popular with poorer Victorian children, including hopscotch, football and clapping and skipping games. Middle-class children played with hobby-horses, dolls, toy soldiers, and paints and wax crayons. Board games like ‘Ludo’ and ‘Snakes and Ladders’ were also well-liked.

 

Why don’t you and your child have a Victorian games day? Try managing without any modern forms of entertainment and play with more traditional toys and games.  

  • What did you both enjoy most about the day?
  • What did you find difficult?

 Victorian homes 

Many people in Victorian times lived in homes without any of the modern comforts we take for granted today. People had to manage without central heating or hot water from the tap – instead they had open fires and heated water on a big cooker called a range. Without vacuum cleaners or washing machines, looking after the home was very hard work. 

Help your child to imagine what it would have been like to live in Victorian times. 

How would they like to have a bath in a metal tub in front of the kitchen fire? 

What would it be like to have to go to the toilet outside after dark? 

How would they like playing with toy soldiers instead of computer games? Would they enjoy having to do some sewing instead of watching T V ? 

 Go around the house with your child and make a list of all the things that Victorian families wouldn’t have had. Then talk with them about what people in Victorian times might have used to do the same job.

 

Sweet Talk 

Richer Victorian housewives had plenty of different types of food to choose from and some famous recipe books to help them – one of the best known was by Mrs Beeton. 

Here is a Victorian recipe for Gingerbread Men – a treat still enjoyed by children today. Why don’t you try making this? 

Darwin Stamp Zoo’s Recipe for GINGERBREAD POST MEN or GINGERBREAD DARWINS 

You need: 

  • 250g self-raising flour
  • a knob of butter
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • raisins/candied peel
  • icing (optional)

1. Heat the oven to 180°C (gas mark 4). 

2. Mix everything except the raisins/peel in a bowl. 

3. When the ingredients have come together into a solid mixture, roll it out onto a floured surface. 

4. Cut into shapes using a gingerbread cutter. How about postmen, square postage stamps, pillar boxes, letters and other Victorian shapes or images? 

5. Use the raisins and peel to make eyes and noses. 

6. Bake the biscuits on a greased tray for 10 to 15 minutes. 

7. When cool,  eat or decorate with icing (optional). A nice white beard for Mr Darwin perhaps. 

 To avoid suitably Victorian hygiene and health and safety issues and avoid  a trip to your local hospital (probably established in Victorian times), be careful when working with hot ovens and baking trays. 

Clean your hands before cooking and eating. You’re not a Victorian street urchin! 

Happy Christmas!

The Victorians are not dead and gone! Celebrating the big and bearded Victorian Icons – from Darwin to Lear, a Future Festival of Nonsense

December 3, 2009

Edward Lear's wit and works illustrated on a fabulous British UK Royal Mail 1988 issue

 

As Darwin 200 year comes to a close, Newquay Zoo is already talking to old friends and seeking new partners for Lear Year, a Festival of Nonsense in 2012 to celebrate another bearded Victorian icon, Edward Lear (1812-1888).  Best known as a nonsense poet of limericks and The Owl and The Pussycat, he is less well-known as a travel writer, zoological and landscape painter who had commissions to illustrate part of  Darwin’s Voyage of The Beagle book. 

Watch this space for more details or contact Mark Norris at Newquay Zoo for more news of this nonsense.  

Only one set of stamps celebrating Edward Lear exist that I know of, issued in Britain in 1988, a little different from the hundreds of beautiful Darwin thematic or commemorative stamps produced over the last 100 years. Darwin is featured on more stamp issues worldwide than anyone else except the Royal family.    

Celebrating Lear’s life and works at Newquay Zoo in 2012, we’re trying to make up in a small way for the disastrous few weeks Lear spent not painting or walking much in Cornwall and Devon because it rained “for fifteen days” according to Lear. It’s not raining at the moment here. 

Teaching tips 

A timeline of Charles Darwin  and / or Edward Lear’s life and times, illustrated with stamps at important dates (using scans of stamps) would be a good classroom display.   

The Victorians invented  from 1837 to 1901 penny postage and postage stamps as we know them today.  Victorian life, times, writers, travellers, explorers, inventors  and scientists  remain a popular primary school History curriculum topic .  A section on postal history is included in our stamp book Charles Darwin: A Celebration in Stamps.   

It’s fair to say that the Victorians are not dead and have not gone away – they exist in the houses and cities we live in, the cemeteries, museums, galleries, railways and bridges we use today worldwide.  They also developed many zoos and botanic gardens and invented the aquarium. Many late Victorian children carried on active work into the 1960s and 1970s, assuming they survived the slaughter of the First World War.  Some of our oldest centenarians alive today were born under Queen Victoria and many of our senior citizens were the children of Victorian parents. 

A.N. Wilson’s highly readable history book The Victorians is a good thick paperback introduction to the period; there is beautiful illustrated version available too. 

It’s nice to have an alternative to the usual figure  of Florence Nightingale, celebrating the centenary of her death in 2010. Are there stamps of the ‘other’ Florence Nightingale, nurse Mary Seacole? We’ll have look out for some. 

Recent Royal Mail stamps were issued in Britain of many Victorian figures ranging from writers to explorers and engineers such as Brunel bicentenary in 2006 (www.brunel200.org), early pioneering photographs of the Crimean War Victoria Cross winners, Darwin and also the anniversary of many organisations and societies. 

More in future blogs about Lear and Darwin, as well as using stamps to educate and inspire. 

Cornish and Scottish schools who wish to have one of our Darwin limited edition stamp books free for educational use can contact Sandie Robb at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo srobb@rzss.org.uk or Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo mark.norris@newquayzoo.org.uk. This is funded by the SPTA and ASPS, with a bequest for youth stamp work by the late Beryl Rennie. 

Others interested in these books can contact Sandie Robb at the above RZSS address, cost £6 and £2 P&P although as all proceeds go to conservation and further wildlife stamp work, we will happily accept larger donations. You might even get your copy signed by one of us! 

Happy stamping!

A wild (stamp) night out in Newquay … and plans for future nonsense.

December 3, 2009

Explorers, scientists and many anniversaries are commemorated on stamps from Darwin to Neil Armstrong ...

Newquay, famous or even infamous for its nightlife, was host to an unusual wild night yesterday, Wednesday 2nd December. Or rather a wild life on stamps night …

… as we launched or unveiled in Cornwall the new Charles Darwin: A Celebration in Stamps  stamp book to Newquay Philatelic Society NPS at their annual Christmas social event.

In the New Year we will make copies available to Cornish schools free of charge. As well as launching the book and selling some signed copies, we introduced at the talk what’s been happening past, present and future at Newquay Zoo in our 40th birthday year with photographs of the zoo over the last forty years including some photos turned in by past visitors and local families. Photos, paintings, prints, Victorian objects and Darwin postage stamps form part of Newquay Zoo’s Museum and Archive collection loaned out for Darwin 200 exhibitions at  Falmouth Art Gallery. Falmouth was where Darwin made landfall on his return from the Beagle voyage.  These four Falmouth exhibitions and the Darwin’s Footsteps trail at Newquay Zoo (both supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund) have now been taken down with materials mostly in store for future use such as celebrating Edward Lear’s bicentenary in 2012. More on Lear, Victorians  and stamps to follow …

Part of my talk was  about how stamps could be used to illustrate and inspire in educational ways. We also talked about how to encourage more families and children to engage with postage stamp collecting and philately, as its seen as a dying hobby by many. RZSS Edinburgh Zoo’s wildlife stamp events with the Association of Scottish Philatelic Societies headed by Darwin book co-author Sandie Robb at RZSS are a good example of doing this well. The Darwin stamp book was part funded by a bequest to support stamp work to encourage  young stamp collectors kindly left  by a Scottish stamp collector, the late Beryl Rennie

At Newquay Zoo we’ve displayed or scanned this year dinosaur stamps alongside real fossils and living dinosaur plants here (www.lostworldread.com, Conan Doyle’s Lost World the Great Reading Adventure) to highlight extinction. We’ve displayed space stamps from our 1969 Archive to celebarte International Year of Astronomy IYA 2009 www.iya2009.org and the 40th anniversary of the Apollo moon landings in the same period and year that Newquay Zoo opened.  We used stamps to illustrate some of the  animal star constellations (inspired by Jacqueline Mitton’s The Zoo in The Sky book) for Newquay Zoo animals such as Lynx that feature as endangered European carnivores as part of the EAZA Carnivore campaign  http://www.carnivorecampaign.eu/  

Next year is 2010 International Year of Biodiversity http://www.biodiversityislife.net/ and http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nature-online/biodiversity/international-year-biodiversity/index.html 

Zoos worldwide will be marking this event in many ways. RZSS Edinburgh  Zoo have many events planned. Here at Newquay Zoo we’ll be using plant stamps from our overseas partner countries as part of our Plant Hunters trail and pirate stamps to celebrate September’s International Talk Like A Pirate Day  http://www.talklikeapirate.com/.  best of all for our Philippines trail  beautiful  WWF stamp issue Philippine stamps showing the world’s rarest pig Visayan Warty Pig and worlds’ rarest deer, the Philippine Spotted Deer, here as part of an international zoo breeding programme and outreach overseas conservation to Philippines Conservation funds. Find out more about our events and activity trails on our zoo website www.newquayzoo.org.uk 

So thanks to Hazel Meredith the NPS chairperson, Peter Chantry (Cornwall Federation of Philatelic Societies) and many friendly others especially including my host Ken Attwood, zoo volunteer and Vice Chair of NPS  for their warm welcome and hospitality and donations to zoo conservation funds,  added to sales or donations for signed Darwin stamp books.

We look forward to hosting more news on wildlife  stamp events at Newquay Zoo and RZSS Edinburgh Zoo in 2010 and 2011.

Meanwhile,  keep a look out on our blog for more stamp teaching tips and inspiration.

Bookmark this site and pass it on to others, leave us comments on our posts or share good teaching tips for using stamps. Happy stamping!

Extinction, conservation, Charles Darwin, zoos and stamp collecting?

September 30, 2009
Charles Darwin dinosaur hunter (featured on a  cigraette card)

Charles Darwin dinosaur hunter (featured on a 1940s or 1950s cigarette card)

Stamp collectors sometimes collect other things, like trade cards or cigarette and tea cards. (It’s often called collecting ephemera). This card is from my collection  at Newquay Zoo, showing Charles Darwin as a geologist and fossil or dinosaur hunter. We had so many possible stamps and images to choose from our collections that we had to leave this one out of the Darwin stamp book , despite there being a fabulous area featured of Charles Darwin stamp collecting – DINOSAURS.

There are however many great designs of dinosaur stamps from a bewildering range of countries that we have scanned from the collection of Sandie Robb at RZSS and Eugene Wood to illustrate the use of stamps as educational resources and objects of great beauty, miniature and usually affordable works of art.

Using the dinosaur stamps or fossil plant stamps in the classroom or the craftroom, students could research the dinosaur pictured and named on each stamp. Mini fact files can be found on websites like www.nhm.ac.uk the Natural History Museum, BBC, National Geographic and others.

Teaching or craft idea:  Dinosaur landscapes or communities (even good old predator / prey food webs in class!) could be painted or depicted around printed out or enlarged scans of stamps.

Did all the dinosaurs featured live at the same time? What fossil plants could you show them with?

 I have seen some beautifully hand painted stamp pages in albums or designs for First Day Covers  (some Darwin ones are featured in our book). Just be careful you don’t splash paint on your favourite stamps!  

And the zoo connection? Where have all the dinosaurs gone? What does extinction mean? The extinction of dinosaurs was one thing humans can’t be blamed for, a result of a rapidly but naturally changing world. However, one animal featured in our stamp book is the Warrah, a Falklands Wolf seen by Charles Darwin on his famous Voyage of the Beagle.

Sandie Robb in her non-stampy role for RZSS Edinburgh Zoo has worked on the Falkland Islands linking Scottish and Falkland schools (see her blog at www.rzssfalklands.wordpress.com).

Sandie didn’t see a Warrah as they are now as extinct as the dinosaurs Darwin discovered, but extinct in the last 100 to 150 years, persecuted like other wolves as a threat to that famous non-native Falkland animal, the sheep!

Maybe Warrah would still exist in the wild or at least in zoos in Edinburgh or Newquay if they had survived just a little longer; instead it’s just a stamp! How very sad and frustrating for conservationists! There are many other creatures we can still save …