Photographs I've gleaned from flea markets, junk shops and sometimes ebay. The cheaper the better. Anything with a story that can be extracted from hand written notes, location research, local histories, census records......anything. A small band of fellow enthusiasts worldwide have helped me with many of these. Of course there are always mysteries that defy research, but there's even a story inside these. All images can be viewed at super-size on Flickr.

Monday, 30 May 2011

John Mappin

John Mappin, Birmingham.

John Mappin (reverse)

To draw an archaeological analogy, this is the photo researcher's equivalent of stumbling across a Pompeii. A  man born in the 18th century who was kind enough to leave us not only his image but also an incredibly informative label giving his exact date of birth, profession and both his work and home address. I laughed out loud when I found it. Such a helpful and upbeat fellow. John Mappin was an offshoot of the family that founded Mappin and Webb. His firm issued metal tokens which could be redeemed for surgical trusses, an innovation that was discussed in the British Medical Journal in 1955. He had 13 children and has hundreds of living descendants all over the world. One of his great-grandsons, an American named John Little who died in 1990, committed to magnetic tape an oral family history which included this charming love story:

"In Manchester [John Reynolds] didn't find anything interesting so he walked south to Birmingham. There he called on a man named John Mappin who dealt in surgical instruments hoping that he could get a job. He was told that there was no work for him. As he stood interviewing on the front porch, the gentleman's daughter, age eighteen, was standing in the hall. She overheard the conversation and was able to get a look at the young man, my grandfather. John Mappin had thirteen children in all. His daughter in the hallway was rather frustrated at the time since she and her sister had arranged to have a double wedding with two young doctors. Her young doctor, however, had recently left this world due to an attack of small pox. She thought John Reynolds did not look too bad so as he was walking away, she climbed out of a window and ran after him. She caught up with him and they both walked back to Liverpool and had eighteen children."

When I contacted them I discovered that the Little family had never seen a photograph of their ancestor, so I gave them the original of this one. Home at last!


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