Here is some exciting news for the heritage community. Dr Ronald Levine, antiquarian book collector and dealer, is offering a remarkable Railway manuscript and some attachments for sale as a single lot, on the Antiquarian Auction in June 2020 (see www.antiquarianauctions.com).
EBay has on sale a medal to commemorate the declaration of Johannesburg as a city in 1928. I was immediately intrigued. I have never seen one of these medals but I am not a collector of such items. An internet search reveals that this medal is not regarded as rare but that prices fluctuate from as little as R45 to about $10 to as much as £18. It is a bronze medal.
Herbert Maurice John Prins, distinguished architect, professional conservation and heritage architect and practitioner passed away on Wednesday, 15th April 2020, just 12 days short of his 93rd birthday. His was a long, rich and remarkably productive life. Herbert was a role model in his work and ongoing commitment to the heritage of Johannesburg and other parts of South Africa until just a couple of months before his death. It was a joy to celebrate his 90th birthday in 2017. His professional career extended over 72 years - surely a record.
My eye has been on international news about the Corona Virus since the story of this mysterious illness that was changing life in Wuhan China first hit the news. It all seemed a little distant in January. We were concerned and curious but it was not a personal threat - China seemed (mistakenly) a long way away. I now look back on our celebrating Christmas 2019 as a time of innocence and a time free of worry.
We have two mulberry trees in our garden but I shall concentrate on one. The fact that the are two mulberry trees is an early indication that the mulberry tree readily seeds, saplings shoot and a new tree roots itself. Officially the mulberry belongs to the Moraceae family.
Today I browsed my recipe book collection and randomly pulled out a thin paper cover recipe book called The Caltex Recipe Collection (published in about 1983 by Caltex). The book is a compilation of recipes from the Caltex Recipe Calendar series over the period 1979 to 1982.
This tree is one of those eternal landmarks of my front garden. It creates shade and one can mark the seasons by the performance of the tree, whether it's the berries on the ground in autumn or the lilac flowers on the tree (spring) which then drop their small flowers in light off-white profusion (autumn). The falling blossoms create a floral carpet on the lawn. The flowers appear in the spring and have a light scent but by this time of the year (late March) have given way to the berry fruit.
This piece was written on Day 1 of our 21 day stay home in the fight against the Corona virus. I have decided to try to learn something new about our garden and home and to share my writing with Heritage Portal readers during this time of quiet introspection and anxiety. We may discover that the small things within our own multiple worlds matter more than the large events beyond our control.
I found Mike Alfred's article about Jonathan and Geoff Klass absolutely fascinating as I have known Collectors Treasury and the Klass Brothers from the time they started up in business at what we now known as 44 Stanley Avenue (click here to read the article). Those were the days when for a young collector recently returned to Johannesburg there were wonderful book bargains and a great shared joy in finding good books. I have watched the business grow to the pre
Helen Aron, photographer and South African art publishing impresario, passed away in Johannesburg on 11th January 2020 after a long illness. Helen was an eccentric, unique Johannesburg character- someone of passion, intelligence, flair and great courage.
Helen was born on 30th November 1939.
The author and poet Mike Alfred followed up his book Johannesburg Portraits: From Lionel Phillips to Sibongile Khumalo (Jacana, 2003) with a second series of writing about contemporary Johannesburg people a few years later. In a series of interviews and reflections Alfred captured the pen portraits of people who he encountered in Johannesburg, people who made a difference to and who had an impact on the kaleidoscope of Johannesburg in the first decade of the 21st century. Mike’s book is about their lives, their achievements and their relationship with th
Roger Webster, storyteller, raconteur, heritage supporter, broadcaster and author passed away after a short illness on 6th January 2020. Roger was an enthusiast of South African heritage and history.
Last weekend my husband Keith and I spent a weekend in Durban as guests of the Durban Art Deco Society (DADS). I was there to deliver the lecture at the Annual General Meeting of the Society on the Sunday morning at the Phansi Museum but we had about 26 hours to see Durban and pleasure the pulse of the Indian Ocean city which had been Keith’s home town and my favourite teenage holiday destination. I knew Durban from my childhood sojourns and then family visits to the grandparents once we had settled in Johannesburg but in recent years our visits have dwindled so
I snapped the image above from the Station Street entrance of the Braamfontein East Campus - exiting the Wits gates. Photo taken on Sunday 17th November 2019. It reminded me of how much of a city university Wits is and how layered the city is in the buildings around us.
In the foreground are the old corrugated iron semi-detached workers cottages (now the Performing Arts Administration of Wits’ School of Arts). This was once a home of an artisan - we know they were here as artisan’s residences of turn of the 20th century Braamfontein.
Saturday 5 October 2019 was a heritage cum book day of note at the library complex to be found at Solomon Street. The weekend offered booklovers the annual City Library book sale spread over two days, hosted by the Friends of the Johannesburg Public Libraries and the Johannesburg Library and information services.
Last month I attended the opening of the new photographic exhibition at Museum Africa: The Gift of Seeing History – The Legacy of Dr Arthur David Bensusan. The exhibition commemorates the 51st anniversary of the establishment of the Bensusan Museum and Library of Photography. The exhibition runs until 21st September and has been curated by Ms Dudu Madonsela of Museum Africa.
The Grand Station Hotel went up in flames on Friday evening, 2 August 2019 (main image courtesy of Eugene Ulman). This news reached the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation members at their AGM on the Saturday afternoon. Heritage people gasped with shock, dismay and distress. The hotel was an icon of Johannesburg, it achieved the status of being Johannesburg’s oldest surviving hotel, although by the late 1980s it was no longer run as a hotel.
On Saturday 3rd August 2019 I delivered a talk to members of the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation entitled ‘Blue Plaques - Heritage History and Blue Lining our City.’ The Heritage Portal has had requests for at least some of the “take-aways” from this talk to help guide other South African heritage bodies. I will be delivering a talk on blue plaques in October at the HASA conference in Tulbagh. Meanwhile let’s skim over the subject of blue plaques and their possibilities.
This week I dropped in to visit James Findlay’s bookshop situated in the basement of the Rand Club. If you have not yet visited the reborn Rand Club it is definitely worth it. Enjoy a coffee at the bar (or go for something stronger) and spend some time out in the bookshop. The Rand Club has come to life with a renaissance and reinvention.
If you are a Johannesburg enthusiast you will certainly be delighted to acquire four recent Johannesburg books. It seems like almost a deluge of titles on old Johannesburg. A fellow Johannesburg heritage enthusiast threw me the questions: well what is the difference between these books, which one is for me and is it really necessary to buy four books all on Johannesburg?