Now I’m a couple of days in, I thought I’d quickly share with you how I go about the cataloguing process. Basically, I take an item out of the box, read through it, describe it then allocate it a temporary document number. Once I’ve gone through the entire collection and I have a better idea what it contains, I’ll create categories then reorganise the items according to category and allocate a final catalogue number.
Sounds simple enough, but the problem is that an item could be a single sheet of paper, say a press cutting or a huge bundle of letters handwritten in various 19th Century scripts that take days to read through, but need to be catalogued as one item to maintain the integrity of the collection. That’s why during the first couple of days I only managed to allocate one temporary document number a day.
Yesterday though, things finally sped up and I managed to allocate a whopping 9 temporary numbers – woo hoo! The reason for this is that I was looking at a lot of press cuttings and invoices/receipts (or vouchers as they will be called in the catalogue).
It seems that Penrhyn Castle had a bit of an overhaul in the late 1880’s as there are numerous receipts for new carpets (inc. library, grand stairs and library bedrooms) upholstery and soft furnishings, curtains (inc. lower India Room)and furniture (lots for the library in particular). This is probably because George Sholto Douglas-Pennant inherited the estate in 1886 and he and his wife would have been looking to put their own mark on the castle. These vouchers are truly beautiful, and once my scanner arrives I would love to share a picture of them. The engravings at the tops of nearly every one is a decorative masterpiece, a world away from your standard tesco receipt.
The other interesting find yesterday was a load of press cuttings from 3 & 5 November 1900, each giving different accounts of the news that militia were on their way to Bethesda. Oddly, what I found most engaging was not the cuttings themselves, but the fact that each was encased in a little paper folder with the name ‘Romeike and Curtice Press Cutting and Information Agency’ on it. Something about these folders really brought the cuttings to life for me. I could just imagine a servant, despatched into the fog of a cold November morning, making his way through the chaotic London streets to find the latest news on the strike at the ‘Press Cutting Agency’, something I’d never imagined existing.
So, in two days and one box I jumped forwards nearly a century and set a new document record. I wonder what today will bring….