The timber display case was presented to Mr Richard Standcombe Harris of Warrnambool (1831-1923). He was a councillor (1875-1891) and predominant businessman. Mr C F Loggin had met Mr Harris while on a trip to Stratford upon Avon in the United Kingdom. Upon his return to Warrnambool, Mr Harris donated the item to the Warrnambool Museum and Art Gallery, (established 1886) where Joseph Archibald was Curator: he catalogued the case in 1894.
THE LETTERS IN THE CASE
The two letters contained within the display case confirm the authenticity of the oak wood sample.
The first letter in the case includes the text;
"[Stamped Header on banner] High Street, Stratford on Avon
[Hand written] Sept. 22nd / 91.
Mr. R. S. Harris,
Enclosed you will find [underlined next 3 words] every authentic proof of the Oak from Shakespeare's House (Birth place). I regret very much Sir, that you made a short-day at S. on A. I should have been delighted to have had the honour, & pleasure, of showing you around our Beautiful Country. You did not give [next 3 words underlined] me or yourself a fair chance. But however I hope that we may again some day have more time to go quietly around. With kind regards, and wishing you, Sir, a pleasant voyage, I remain, Dear Sir, Yours very truly, C.F. Loggin.
P.S. A paper will be always acceptable to be as how you Jolly Warrnamboolites are desporting yourselves. “
The second letter includes text;
“[Printed Letterhead with stamped impression]
The Trustees and Guardians of Shakespeare’s Birthplace
Incorporated by Act of 54 and 55, Vict. 1891
Secretary and Librarian - Richard Savage
[handwritten] 22 Sept 1891
This piece of oak is a portion of
what was cut away at
at the restoration of Shakespeare’s
Birthplace in 1857-58.
C. F. Loggins
3 High Street
Mr C F Loggin was connected with the Shakespeare Trust as the person who had originally donated a scion of Shakespeare's mulberry tree to the "Shakespearean Birthday Committee" in 1842. (The scion that was given to the Shakespearean Birthday Committee, from which the Mulberry sample is derived, still grows today in "New Place" garden.)
Mr Richard Savage was the Secretary and Liberian of the then renamed “Trustees and Guardians of Shakespeare’s Birthplace when the display case was given to Mr Harris in 1891 by Mr Loggin.
Shakespeare was born in 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon, where he also grew up. He married at 18 years and he and his wife, Anne Hathaway, had three children: They moved to London where he became successful as an actor, writer, and part-owner of a playing company. He later returned to Stratford and purchased his last home, which he called "New Place" in 1602 where he later died in 1616.
For the next 150 years, it was known that there existed a black mulberry tree in the garden. At the time there was a fashion for planting mulberry trees. It was the early 17th century after King James had come to the throne, and he imported tens of thousands of saplings in an attempt to get landowners to start a silk industry in England. Unfortunately for posterity, Shakespeare's mulberry was felled around 1756, by the then owner of “New Place" the Reverend Francis Gastrell, who was apparently tired of continual visits by pilgrims asking to see the tree, so he chopped it down. Gastrell had applied for local permission to extend the garden but the application was rejected and his tax was increased. Gastrell retaliated by demolishing the house in 1759, this greatly outraged the local inhabitants. Gastrell was eventually forced to leave town having provoked the wrath of Stratford residents for committing such an act. Today only the garden remains where “New House" used to stand with a scion from the original mulberry tree still growing there.
The wood from the felled mulberry tree at “New House" was purchased by an enterprising local clock-maker Thomas Sharp and he spent the next 40 years or so years making souvenirs from the wood. These became early tourist souvenirs and subsequently developed into a profitable sideline for various other makers, including George Cooper and John Marshall. These objects range from relatively small domestic wooden objects, such as snuff boxes and weight scales to large tea caddies and even tables.
C. F. Loggin donated a scion or cutting from Shakespeare's mulberry tree to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in 1862, he was a chemist who lived and worked in Stratford. There is a note on the frame of the donation that the mulberry sample is from this scion, research shows that from Richard Savage's diary notes that there must have been a lot of wood taken from that scion over the years which was planted in the garden of “New Place” and is still growing there today.
The "Trustees and Guardians of Shakespeare’s Birthplace" (1847 -1964) was formed after the house where Shakespeare is believed to have been born fell into disrepair. Subsequently in 1846 after the death of Thomas Court's widow the last owner. Interest in the house was revived when PT Barnum, the American showman, wanted to buy it and ship the house back to America. In response to this, the Shakespeare Birthday Committee was established (by a private Act of Parliament) with the help of such luminaries as Charles Dickens, the Committee of Trustees raised the necessary £3,000 and purchased the house the following year. Once the Committee had acquired the building, restoration work began.
Originally the Birthplace formed part of a terrace with later houses built either side. The first stage in its conservation was their destruction. At the time it was thought necessary to avoid the risk of fire spreading to Shakespeare's birthplace. Reconstruction was carried out by the Shakespeare Trust between 1857 and 1864 that restored the outside of the building to its original 16th-century state. It is from this restoration that the donated piece of oak is derived, originally from a beam that was in the house.
Communication from The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, dated April 11th, 2019, confirms that the pieces displayed in this case have good provenance.
The wood samples are significant for their association with the history of William Shakespeare.
The display case and its content is significant to Warrnambool local history for its association with the establishment in 1886 of the Warrnambool Museum and Art Gallery. However, it should be noted that the letters of authentication that accompany the wood samples are only applicable to the oak sample. None the less, all the pieces have very good provenance, with Richard Savage's certificate of authenticity for the oak, and the mulberry sample with the letter to Mr Harris from Mr CF Loggin having also been the donor of the scion of mulberry in 1862 to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. This scion was then established at Shakespeare's garden at "New Home" that had been demolished by Rev Francis Gastrell in 1759.
Two wood samples associated with William Shakespeare, presented in a hanging, timber and glass display case with metal trim around the frame. The case also contains two letters and a label printed on a card that refers to the contents, their origins and the donor. A card label with a printed number and a round adhesive label are attached on the back of the case.
The left round section of wood is from a donated scion (or shoot) derived from the original mulberry tree planted by William Shakespeare at his last home "New Place", Stratford-upon-Avon. The outer section is light brown coloured while the centre is dark grain.
The right wood sample in the case is a section of oak rafter from the house where Shakespeare was born in 1564. The wood is mid brown with a distinct grain.
The included letters, each dated 22/9/1891, refer to only the oak sample.
- The letter on the left comprises two handwritten pages from Mr CF Loggin to Mr Richard Standcombe Harris. The paper has the printed letterhead address of High Street, Stratford on Avon.
- The letter on the right is a handwritten certificate of authenticity signed by Mr CF Loggin and counter signed by Mr Richard Savage, Secretary and Liberian of the Shakespeare Trust. It is on the printed letterhead of The Trustees and Guardians of Shakespeare’s Birthplace
Inscriptions & markings
Cardboard label inside the glass case
Section of Mulberry Tree, traditionally said to have been planted by
Shakespeare in his garden, “New Place,” Stratford-on-Avon.
PORTION OF OAK RAFTER from the house in which
Shakespeare was born.
(Presented by R S Harris 1891.)
Printed label on the back of the case “3 2 “
The handwritten adhesive label “0566”
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