4 April 2011

Remembering Your Travels

This week we're asking you to show us photos of international objects in your own home. If you're having trouble thinking of anything you have that fits your description, consider your souvenirs!

Souvenirs have been a way for people to remember things for a long time. Wherever you live, people who visit can probably find a souvenir to take home with them. You might buy one to remember something you did, somewhere you went, or something that happened, but the point of them is usually to remember.

Whether you buy them yourself or get given them as a gift after someone you know has been on holiday, souvenirs mean there are often many objects from many different countries in your home. I love to collect things when I visit new places, so I have quite a few souvenirs. Even things which weren't intended as souvenirs I love to think of as reminding me of the place or time I bought them, so they become just as meaningful.

We've explored the Geffrye's stores to show you some of the objects bought as souvenirs of travel that ended up in English homes.

This dish was originally sold as a souvenir in Malta, a country located just South of Italy and Sicily. It's made of real shells, with a small painting of the island at the centre.
(c) Geffrye Museum, London
It might not be to everyone's taste, but it's a good reminder of a summer's beach holiday and there are probably many places souvenirs just like this can still be bought.

Souvenirs have been around a lot longer than many people think. This gorgeous money box was probably made in Italy around 1860. It's decorated with some very pretty scenes of British sailing boats, including a steamer with flag flying at full mast, but it's inscribed 'Florence'.
(c) Geffrye Museum, London
It was made in Florence, Italy, as a souvenir, and was bought by someone who brought it back to their English home. Maybe they were an English person who liked the thought of their own country's boats being active in Italian trade, or maybe they just thought the images were pretty.

Here's an object you might think was a souvenir, but was actually made in England:
(c) Geffrye Museum, London
(c) Geffrye Museum, London
This folding mirror may look like it travelled from Asia but, as some of you might have learnt from our last mystery object, looks can be deceiving. The mirror was made in 1976, at a time when Japanese arts and styles were very popular in England.

For the middle-class English person, it might be considered very impressive to have something hanging on your wall which looked like it had travelled from far off places - it made the owner look a bit more important - and most people would never be able to tell. Souvenirs can be a way to show off as well as remember!

Speaking of looks being deceiving...
(c) Geffrye Museum, London
This is an earthenware oil lamp from the Mediterranean. You might be forgiven for thinking it's almost 2000 years old and was around during the Greek or Roman period! However, experts have looked at this lamp and discovered it's likely to be a modern 'pastiche' made only partly of ancient lamp pieces, designed to sell to tourists as a souvenir.

And lastly, a souvenir everyone is probably familiar with, the postcard:
(c) Geffrye Museum, London
I love looking at souvenir postcards when I go on holiday, and usually I try to send one back to friends or family at home. It seems whoever sent these 'Best Wishes from India' felt the same way.

But the thing I look for most when I'm visiting somewhere new is a souvenir that can be found in many tourist destinations, usually in the gift shops:

This is a small selection of my souvenir shotglass collection! These examples are all from a trip to Memphis, Tenessee, although as you can see there's one from neighbouring state Mississippi that snuck in there too. I love my shotglasses as I think they're a fun (and kind fo pretty) reminder of places I've visited and the things I've seen and done.

What kind of souvenirs do you have in your home? Do you always buy one when you go away, or do you ask people to bring them back for you? Do you collect a certain type of souvenir? Tell us about them in comments, or add a photo to our flickr group as part of our photo event!

1 comment:

  1. Love the Memphis shotglasses, especially Sun Studios. Such an awesome city!

    I collect cloth badges on my travels and then use them to decorate my backpacks and suitcases. I'll try to snap a picture later today.


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