“Let nothing perish” – an appropriate motto for today, when money is tight, reality shows focus on auctions and flea markets, and recycling is becoming a public virtue.
But the phrase, “Let nothing perish,” was actually coined by Charles Paget Wade, born during the Victorian Age in 1883. British architect, painter, poet, and collector: From the age of seven till he died in 1951, Wade assembled a massive set of more than 22,000 wildly different items. From art to old maps, armor to medicine bottles, books to watches and fine clocks, bicycles to instruments, toys to model ships, ceramics to documents, even a cherished set of screws – all from the 1600s to the mid-20th century.
Visiting this kind of special collection is an amazing experience. I was fortunate to have a chance to see many of these pieces at his home of Snowshill Manor, in Gloucestershire in the UK. The house itself is pretty cool: It is ancient, built in the 800s; it is set in an Arts and Crafts garden designed by M. H. Baillie Scott. Wade appeared to know his priorities: He and his wife lived in a small cottage in the grounds, while the collections were housed in the manor! (I’m not so sure his wife cared for this – after marrying in 1946, the newlyweds spent much more time in the West Indies.)
But walking through the Manor’s carefully arranged rooms is a joy and a pleasure. Wade wrote, “I have not bought things because they were rare or valuable. My guiding essentials have been good design, colour, and workmanship. What a joy these old things are to live with, each piece made by the hand of a craftsman, each has feeling that no machine could ever attain.
“Though each room of the house is filled with items of interest, each has a restful atmosphere. They are rooms to linger in – rooms one must return to – rooms where there is always something to discover – rooms which inspire a thousand fancies.” A true follower of William Morris!
What famous collections have you seen that really struck a chord? Share your story! And be sure to check me out on Etsy at CollectibleCool.
(Image: Property of the UK National Trust, self-portrait of Charles Paget Wade.)