Info from book

Because my book isn’t going to arrive on time I shall write the same information here. I included quotes from my grandmother so I could have a description about the heirlooms.

italian cameos2

Italian Cameos

The ring on the left: “The cameo ring belonged to you Great Great Grandma Elizabeth (Joan Stagg’s mother). We don’t know anything about her first husband, but she was married to Harry Stagg, Joan’s father and he ran a fishmonger’s shop in Snow Hill, Wolverhampton. Oddly, your Dad now lives in a flat only a couple of doors up from where that shop used to be. Joan did have some jewellery valued in the mid 1980s and from memory, I think this ring was valued at about £150, but that’s only a memory that could be wrong.” – Jenny, my grandmother.

The necklace on the right: This cameo was a gift to my mother for her 21st birthday from her godparents. It was originally on a different chain, but that disappeared, so it has been put on another chain for the time being.

Cameos were first made around the 16th century. They were typically made out of shell, jewels, onyx, coral or paste. Ancient cameos were worn by Romans who wanted to advertise their wealth. The majority of cameos have a portrait, usually of a woman, but also feature men, nature and animals.

china woman

China Figurine

“This belonged to your Great Grandma Joan. I remember her telling me it was called something like “The Cherry Seller”, and she thought it might have come from France or Germany sometime in the 1930s. We believe it was a gift from her brother Maurice, who was killed in action in Burma, during WW2. Certainly, it was an ornament she cared for a great deal, so we have looked after it ever since she died.” – Jenny.

This figurine was made c.1902. The Royal Doulton markings on the bottom of the figurine indicate it was produced around the time of the grant of the Royal Warrant by King Edward the VII.

stopwatch and book

Book and Pocket watch

“The pocket watch is gold, with a gold chain, stamped 9ct gold on every link. The fob is a piece of black onyx, linked to a gold half sovereign. It belonged to your Great Great Grandfather Robert and was bought by him when he had a big win on horse racing. At one time, Great Great Nana Clara had it valued at about £500, but as the watch no longer works, its only value is sentimental and the value of the gold in it. It was given by Clara to my Dad when my grandad died and my mother has kept it since as the only thing she has of her father’s. The book is a prayer book issued to soldiers in the first World War and we believe it belonged to your Great Great Grandfather Harry Stagg. We don’t know if it has any value but it was part of the old library of books treasured by your Grandad’s mother, so we keep it for sentimental reasons.” – Jenny.

joan stagg poem

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare owned by my Great Grandmother Joan Stagg.

“A book owned by Great Grandma Joan. She was very proud of her books and took great care of them, she knew she was lucky to have so many, so this poem shows how much she wanted to look after them. In her youth, books were often passed around friendship groups and she was keen that it should eventually be returned to her – and the poem obviously worked. It’s also great that it’s in the original packaging that was used to send it to her from the bookseller, because in those days there weren’t the number of bookshops there are now, so you often bought books from booksellers, often from London.” – Jenny.


Bib Necklace

“This is what’s known as a “Bib” necklace. It was bought in 1966 by my grandfather (your great great Granddad Robert, my Mom’s father), as a ruby wedding anniversary gift for my grandmother, Clara Elizabeth Walker. It was very fashionable in the mid-sixties to have crystal jewellery, mostly necklaces but also bracelets and earrings. Their wedding anniversary was on 26th December (Boxing Day) and I remember my Nana wearing it often as she was very proud of it. Since my nan died in 1988, it now belongs to my Mother (great nana Doris), who treasures it as something her mother really loved. For this reason, I shall keep it as an heirloom when I inherit it. As far as I know, there is no real monetary value to it, it’s just really a sentimental value that stops us from selling it or giving it away.” – Jenny.

silver necklace 1


“This was a gift from my Grandfather Edward (your Great Great Grandfather, my Dad’s father) – to his wife, Harriet Abley. They were not a well-off family, and Nan didn’t have a lot of jewellery, so this was very special to Harriet and she looked after it well and wore it on special occasions. The pendant can be removed from the chain and be worn as a brooch. It was given to my Dad by his father when his mother died, and my Mum also wore it occasionally. It is often said in that side of the family that I look very like my Nan and your Great Nan passed it on to me about 25 years ago. It is only really costume jewellery, and has no real monetary value but is the only thing I have to remember my Nan by as she died in 1961 when I was 10.” – Jenny.


granny and grandaddavenport

This photo is of my Grandmother’s Davenport desk that has been in my family for over 100 years. My great great great grandfather James Colwell originally owned the Davenport desk. My great great great grandparents gave the Davenport to my great great grandmother’s uncle, who went a bit mad, sold all his furniture except the Davenport and pawned it, when he was dying he gave the pawn ticket to my great grandfather. He redeemed the pawn ticket and got the desk back and when they died they left it to my grandmother Jill.

The other picture was taken on top of the desk, and has an old photograph of my grandmother and grandfather when they got engaged, and their engagement ring on top. The ring is a ruby and diamond cluster, 9 carat gold ring. On the left side is a pin that my grandmother wore when she was christened as a baby, and on the right, is another pin she used to wear.

Davenport desks were originally created in the Georgian and Victorian era. These desks are rumoured to have been named after a man named Captain Davenport who may have designed the desks and commissioned a company named ‘Gillows of Lancaster’ to make them. Many of the desks contain hidden compartments and drawers where important documents were left.

book note 2

“The diary of Samuel Pepys work was a gift to your Great Great Grandmother Joan (your Grandad’s Mom). It was given to her in September 1940 as a 21st birthday present from her work colleagues at Wilson Lovett & Sons. She was a comptometer operator, which I think was her job until she met her husband Ken after WW2. Books were very dear to Joan and we have quite a number that she really loved to read and she always took great care of them. They have been a part of your Grandad’s life all of his life, so he didn’t want to just give them away when she died, so he has kept them all.” – Jenny.

The ring was also a gift for her 21st birthday which occurred during the Battle of Britain and the day after the Luftwaffe attacked London for the first time.

pin thing


“The pin is a tie that we think belonged to Grandad’s Uncle Maurice (Maurice Arthur Stagg). He was killed in Burma in 1944 during WW2 and was a member of the Special Forces, known as The Chindits. He was only 28 when he died. It’s one of the few possessions Great Great Grandma Joan had that was her brother’s so has special sentimental value. It is gold with a ruby set in it.” – Jenny.


Research for my book/final photos

Alongside all the personal information about the heirlooms that I photographed, I’ve included a brief history about some of the objects. The majority of the information I got from both of my grandmothers but also online. I couldn’t find information on everything, but every photo still has a personal description. (Final photos are below) – The author of this website named Tammy Jones works with jewellery, and she wrote a post about cameos, including the history of them, how they became popular and how they are made.

There is a book called ‘The Portfolio: monographs on artistic subjects by Philip Gilbert Hamerton which includes a section about how cameos are made and what materials are used. – This is another website that talks about the appearances of cameos. – The Cameo Collection sell their own cameos and also write about the history and production of them.

My one grandmother owns an antique Davenport desk, which I looked up online to see if I could find anything similar and found an antiques website that sell a variety of different Davenports for different prices. Although I couldn’t find an exact replica, it was interesting to see the differences in prices, from £490 to £2600. The desks are rumoured to have been named after someone called Captain Davenport.  – One of my images below shows a china figurine. There are markings on the bottom of her that show approximately when it was made. This website discusses those markings and I found out that this figurine was made around 1902.


I’ve done a couple more photo shoots and I’m now working more on my book. I have contacted my family to get information on the objects that I’ve photographed and asked questions about how old the objects are; who they inherited them from/who they might pass it down to in the future, why they keep the heirlooms, are there any stories behind the heirlooms and how much they might be worth. I’m planning to have either 1 picture or up to 4 smaller pictures on one page, and then a description about it in the next page. I want to have an introduction to the project at the beginning, which will be similar to the proposal just shorter and more focused on why I think heirlooms are important.

Third Shoot

My gran has a Davenport desk that is over 100 years old and she inherited it from her grandmother, so I went over to her house to photograph it. I couldn’t bring it to the studio at uni because she wouldn’t be comfortable with me taking it away from her, and also because I would probably have to hire a small van to get it to Stoke. I had to work with daylight from her windows because there is no room in her living room for big soft boxes or other lighting. This meant that there are a lot of shadows in some places even though I did attempt to change that in Photoshop. I wanted to include objects that belong to my gran on her desk, such as jewellery or photos or a diary, but in the end, I think it looks too forced, so I shall probably have to redo the photos and try to position them in a way that doesn’t seem like they were placed there by me. I am also unsure about the jewellery, because I think I would prefer a close up of it rather than have all the chains everywhere, but I do think that having tangled up chains makes it look like it’s been there for a while.

(Photos are edited down)

Second Shoot

I did my first proper shoot using a light tent with a white backdrop and photographed a few books and lots of jewellery and small items. The pictures are definitely better than the ones I took in my first shoot as I have used proper lighting. I still have a problem about making my photographs look ‘interesting’ as at the moment I feel they look like product shots. I also used an old jewellery box to photograph necklaces and rings in, but it was very dusty and although that shows the age, I think I should clean it up and shoot again to improve the images. (These are the unedited copies)IMG_3268IMG_3270IMG_3301IMG_3320IMG_3338IMG_3370IMG_3373

Test Shoot

I decided I needed to do a test shoot so that I could figure out how I was going to position each object. I photographed at home using natural lighting and a white background on a brown table, sometimes using a white tablecloth. The pictures weren’t of the best quality due to the lack of decent lighting. Some of the images do look quite plain, which I think is because you need to know the history of the heirloom to understand the importance of it. I’m struggling to decide on how to make my photos look more interesting without needing text as an explanation.