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rooms in the new City Hall. It is beyond question that, had the proposed Park Place museum been built, the Corporation would, at the present moment, be confronted with the need of further accommodation in the near future; and apart from this, the building would have been of little use for a national institution.
Coincident with the acquisition of the Cathays Park, the movement for a national museum for Wales gathered strength. In the preparation of new plans, the possibilities of the future in this respect were kept steadily in view. The site was large enough for any contingency. The first portion to be erected of the proposed building was designed on a scale which would befit it to form part of a national museum, but it was impossible to carry it out with the means at the disposal of the Committee-hence further delay. Here again Fortune smiled behind a frowning mask, for when the decision went forth in 1905 that the national institution should be at Cardiff, the noble site in the Cathays Park was still untouched, and thus allowed of the erection of a building designed outright for a national museum, and with ampler means for its realisation. The Welsh Museum, it may be mentioned here, is managed by a Corporation committee under the chairmanship of Alderman Illtyd Thomas, J.P., and an advisory body, consisting of gentlemen selected for their special knowledge, with Dr. C. T. Vachell, J.P., for their chairman. The staff consists of a curator, zoologist, general assistant, two week-day and two Sunday attendants, and a messenger.
The present Museum is far from being an ideal one. The rooms are small and congested, and many of the
, glass-cases in their turn are overcrowded with objects. Under these difficult and trying conditions, it is impossible to arrange the collections in a systematic manner or to display them to full advantage, and few of them can be shown in their entirety ; but the best has been done to make the exhibited selections as varied and representative as possible. Natural history
especially suffers from the want of space. Very little can be shown beyond the collection of the birds of Wales, which is one of the most popular features of the museum. The whole of the geological collections, which a few years ago occupied most of the floor of the Natural History Room, have been removed. To attempt to further crowd the rooms with exhibits would seriously impede the movements of visitors at holiday times, the number of whom on those occasions often considerably exceeds a thousand a day, and not rarely more than double that number.
Our space here forbids anything approaching a full description of the collections. The reader must be content with a 'hurrygraph’; but, as he is presumed to be an antiquary, we shall now and again linger at the cases of antiquities and kindred objects, especially those of Welsh interest.
Entering from Trinity Street, the spiral stone staircase to the museum rooms is reached at the end of the entrance corridor. On the walls of the lower flight are sundry old maps and views relating to Wales, mostly engravings. From the first landing, the two Antiquities Rooms are reached by a short passage, the walls of which are covered with portraits, mostly old prints, of Welsh celebrities, and in both (passage and landing) are a few casts of Welsh pre-Norman decorated monuments, of which more presently.
In the wall-cases which line three sides of the First Antiquities Room, is a collection of objects now obsolete or rapidly passing out of use. These bygones' tell of old-fashioned Welsh domestic life, customs and industries, and of the times before cheap transit and elaborate machinery. Simple and homely in form and decoration, they are as a rule the productions of the village smith, carpenter and turner, and not a few were home-made. In forming the collection, the cherished end is the reproduction of typical old Welsh interiors, in which many of these bygones' will be displayed in their proper setting With this in view, examples of old
furniture and other large things have been acquired which cannot be exhibited at present for want of space.
Old-fashioned fire-producers — as flints-and-steels, pistol strike-a-lights, tinder-boxes, and the like—are the subject of one of the cases, and among them are two simple pocket tinder-boxes, each formed of a short length of cow's-horn, and containing a bit of flint and tinder. These were in actual use fifteen years ago, the one in Gower, and the other in Pembrokeshire, the owners' pocket-knives serving as 'steels.' These are followed by the story of the lamp, beginning with a mounted shell from Lapland and two oyster-shells with their wicks, from Gower, and ending with early forms of the modern lamps with upright wicks. Next comes a fine assortment of rush-light holders; nearly all Welsh, with original bundles of prepared rushes and iron gressets for melting the fat wherewith they were soaked. The series of lighting appliances ends with a selection of candlesticks of various types. Some dips,' made at a farmhouse near Laugharne, are now a rarity, for home candle-making is truly a bygone art.
In other cases, as also on the window-sills of the room, are displayed various appliances and utensils relating to the old-time fireplace and cooking, as pot-cranes or 'sweys,' pothangers, kettle-tilters or 'lazy-backs,' turn-spits, roasting-hooks, toasters, 'crocks, skillets, and so forth. The laundry is illustrated by hand-mangles, some elaborately carved, from Scandinavia, England and Wales, and by Welsh wooden gauffering-machines and Italian irons. Other cases are devoted to common Welsh wooden ware and household miscellanea, utilitarian and ornamental. Perhaps the most interesting of the 'bygones,' and the most characteristically Welsh, are the carved spoons, of which there is an excellent and varied assortment. The decoration of some is simple and crude; others display chip-carvings and piercings of tasteful design and fine execution. Some bear dates and initials; most, hearts and kindred devices, for these spoons were gifts of rural swains to
their sweethearts. And note their development: the earlier approximate to the silver and pewter spoons of the period; but, as the handle alone is the appropriate field for decoration, this is exaggerated in dimensions until it assumes the form of a large decorated panel, and frequently instead of a single bowl there are two-symbolic of we two are one.'
Not all the ‘bygones' are exhibited. Bulky things, as old agricultural implements, are stored in the basement and elsewhere. But the collection, large as it is, is very far from being complete and representative of Welsh life in 'grandfather's days.' 'Things of this class are not, as a rule, to be picked up in dealers'
, shops. We have to rely largely on
on the watchful interest of good friends who know and love Wales, and the Committee is greatly indebted to the exertions of Mr. Thomas Henry Thomas, R.C.A., of Cardiff, Mr. William Clarke, of Llandaff, and Mr. Micah Salt, of Buxton, in this respect.
The glass-cases on the remaining side of the room (next the windows) are devoted to prehistorics.' Noteworthy are a drinking cup and skulls from an early Bronze-Age burial at St. Fagans, some remarkably fine flint implements from a tumulus near Ystradfellte (two exhibits described in Arch. Camb., 1898 and 1900), and part of a collection of fint implements and other objects gathered from the Merthyr Mawr Warren by Mr. William Riley, Mr. Morton Nance and others. These are followed by a selection from the Museum collection of stone implements from various countries. adjacent wall-cases have for their themes the stone and the bronze axe. In the one is illustrated the wide diffusion of the former, and how it was mounted; in the other is shown, by a series of copies of well-known British and Irish examples, the successive variations of the latter in form aud decoration.
We pass now to the eight ylass-cases in the midst of the room. One contains bronze implements of the Bronze Age found in Wales, and one of these is espe