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In Focus

The following objects represents a selection of topical, unusual or interesting records from our collection. These records have been selected by our team of curators.

ID number:  WB-HC0581
Title / Object name:  Margaret Nettlefold's Blotter
Category:  Household
Object type:  Blotter
Date made:  1880-1890

Wooden blotting pad owned by Margaret Nettlefold. Engraved with MN on back, with ornamental front.   [More Info]

ID number:  BIRBI-W0035
Title / Object name:  Solidus
Category:  Numismatics
Object type:  Weight
Artist / Maker:  Theodore

   [More Info]

ID number:  BIRBI-44.11
Title / Object name:  Two Peasants Binding Faggots
Category:  Visual art
Object type:  Painting
Artist / Maker:  Brueghel, Pieter the younger (1564/5-1637/8)
Place made:  Antwerp
Date made:  between 1620/25

Peasants binding a bundle of branches for firewood were often painted as one of winter’s labours. The precise subject here is unknown, although it is clearly critical in tone. The peasants, with their accomplice in the distance, look around suspiciously - they are possibly stealing the wood. Other vices are hinted at. The stout man to the left symbolises gluttony and his gaunt accomplice to the right, with his codpiece and phallic pipe, represents lechery.

Pieter Breughel the younger often painted copies and pastiches of his father’s work, though no prototype is known here.   [More Info]

ID number:  BIRRC-D0116
Title / Object name:  Drum
Category:  Decorative art
Object type:  Musical instrument
Artist / Maker:  Unknown
Place made:  Oyo, W. Nigeria
Date made:  1960s

Double-membrane hour-glass shaped variable-tone drum, with leather and cloth carrying straps and pierced cast brass bells. It is accompanied by a curved stick with cloth padded handle.This particular instrument is known as a 'talking drum', or more specifically in the Yoruba language as a 'dundun'. These types of drums were designed to have adjustable pitch. By squeezing the chords surrounding the drum it varied the tone of the noises produced, imitating human speech.

This particular drum was collected in Nigeria in the 1960s and was presented to the University of Birmingham by Sir Robert and Lady Aitken in 1971. Sir Robert Aitken was Vice Chancellor of the University of Birmingham between 1953 and 1968. He was a distinguished physician and enthusiastic patron of the arts, being instrumental in the building of the new Birmingham Reparatory Theatre. His portrait forms part of the Campus Collection of Decorative and Fine Art at the University of Birmingham (BIRRC-A0004).   [More Info]

ID number:  ECM 723
Title / Object name:  Baboon Figurine (Thoth)
Object type:  Figurine
Date made:  Unknown - Possibly Middle Kingdom

Figurine of Thoth as a squatting baboon with hands on knees and feet on round backed base. The figurine is made of blue-green faience with facial details, ears, fur, buttocks, and the edge of the base picked out in black.   [More Info]

ID number:  BIRUG 27101
Title / Object name:  Dicranurus conrad
Category:  Palaeontology
Object type:  Trilobite

   [More Info]