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Aberdare Boys’ Grammar School

Memories and Memorabilia

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Boys talk about family antiques, 1988

from School Records

A 1988 newspaper feature that described the
family antiques a group of boys brought to school.

ABCS Antiques Group


RECENTLY 3rd formers entertained members of their year by bringing in valued family possessions, which they commented on. Here is a sample of the comments they made.


THIS walking stick originated in Hirwaun in the mid-eighteen hundreds. It belonged to a wealthy businessman called J B Young.

It is made of wood and has very delicate carvings in the shapes of snakes, insects and leaves. The handle of the walking stick has been built up in five layers of mahogany. The frame is made of teak. This stick is in exceptional condition from the original owner, but when Mr Young died my family inherited it. It has passed down four generations.

It is very light in weight which suggests it was made for leisure.

GUNPOWDER CASK by Tim Daniels 3a

MY object is a gunpowder cask made of leather and brass. The leather pouch displays a hunting scene on the surface and it was made by my grandfather at the end of the 19th century when he worked as a cobbler. It is worth about £30 but to my, family it is worth more because it has sentimental value.

MEERSCHAUM PIPE by James Donovant

WHEN my grandfather was between the age of 12 and 16 he made a Meerschaum style pipe out of a cherry tree.

He used a branch of the tree for the stem of the pipe, and the bowl was made from the trunk. The mouthpiece is plastic, and isn’t part of the original pipe.

According to my grandfather, the cherry tree had been dug up by someone and thrown on the ground. The pipe is in good condition and you can still taste tobacco if you put your lips on the mouthpiece.

The pipe must be about sixty years old now, as my grandfather is seventy-four years of age. He hardly ever uses it now and it just lies in the boxroom at his house.

THE POCKET WATCH by Robert Redmond

THIS solid silver watch is about 100 years old and my family has been told that it is valuable.

My grandfather was given the watch by a Mr Owen who in turn had received it from a British cycling champion. At present my mother owns it and I hope it will be kept in our family.

To alter the time the face of the watch must be opened and to wind it up the back of the watch has to have its own key inserted. This reverse side is quite ornate with patterns of flowers etched onto it and it does complement an extremely decorative face.


THIS brass tea set has been handed down through the generations to my mother. It consists of a coffee pot, tea pot, sugar bowl and milk jug and each item is in quite good condition.

The tray on which all these are mounted weighs slightly more than the sum total of the items. The tray is made of a more delicate brass than the set and there is slight corrosion. All told tray and set weigh in at just under seven ounces.

The tea set belonged to my great-great grandmother. She bought it in an antique shop in London for five old pence (5d).

My mother had it valued in Cardiff just a few weeks ago. She was told it was worth £75.

COINS by Alun Jones form 3

MY grandfather’s great aunt collected most of these coins on her travels. The oldest coin is from the reign of George II and is dated 1736. Around this time many traders gave out tokens and there are a few in the collection: one dated 1793, was payable at Fieldings a grocer and tea dealer, another dated 1798, was payable at L Ackingtons ‘greatest bookseller in the world’.

One thing that is noticeable about the coins is their size and weight, the largest being a coin from the reign of George III.

In England the different regions had their own coins. In the collection there are three different halfpenny coins all from England. Yarmouth halfpenny, a London and Middlesex halfpenny and a Norfolk and Norwich halfpenny all dated about 1800.

The collection has a lot of foreign coins, among them a rand from South Africa, a five cent piece from Belgium, a one cent piece from Canada and four doubles from Guernsey. There is a French coin which is nearly 200 years old; it is dated 1789. There is one coin from Nova Scotia dated 1832 and then worth about one penny. There are only about 20 coins in the collection but most of them date back to before 1850. There is also a selection of the old British currency in the collection.

A MINER’S OIL LAMP by Jonathan Abel form 3.

THIS lamp was made in the 1920s and has its personal number engraved on the side 339. The lamp is made out of brass and the bottom unscrews so that the fuel can be put in. It runs on carbide solid. On top there is a watertank. When the water drops on the carbide solid it produces acetylene gas which is under pressure and is fed through a jet. You flick the flint which is then ignited by the spark which the flint creates. The jet nozzle is on the reflector which is made out of tin. If you have the fuel is should still work.

WAR MEDALS by Paul Wiggs

ALL the medals are from the First World War and were owned by a man called D T Francis. This is my trio of War Medals.

Red, White, Blue. This is called the 1914/15 star.

Silver Medal. This was given to everybody who saw service in the First World War. There is a bronze version of this medal which is exactly the same but was issued to foreign soldiers who fought for us. The bronze is worth more than the silver.

Multi-coloured. On the back of this medal is a picture of the Angel of Sacrifice which the troops claimed they saw on the battlefield.