Saunders Tools Collection
 

Bryan Saunders Museum, CoggeshallBryan Saunders (1893-1973) was a respected woodcarver and joiner.  After his death, his workshop in Coggeshall became a museum, operated by his family.  In 2003, his daughter Miss Janet Saunders gave the collection to The National Trust for preservation and display.  It was necessary to act quickly so a basic inventory was taken, the collection was photographed and put into storage.

In 2005, a small selection of tools, carvings and documents was put on display in Coggeshall Grange Barn, pending facilities suitable for displaying the entire collection.

An interim display was mounted in Grange Barn, ready for the 2009 season.  This was officially opened by Miss Saunders on 13 May 2009 as part of the project's Exhibition and Celebration Event.

A byre on the Grange Barn site has been refurbished to provide a permanent space to display the collection to its full advantage.  Provision was made for the permanent display from the "Heritage In Our Hands" project's funding.  Work continued by a small team of craftsmen to fit out the space in preparation to receive the display, which opened for the 2011 season.

Bryan Saunders Museum, CoggeshallThe Essex Record Office accepted the collection's documents for cataloguing and conservation in the proper environment for paper archives.

To ensure the collection was processed according to best practice, a selection of tools was taken for examination by Chris Green, Museums and Heritage Officer of St Albans Museums.  We are grateful to him for giving his time and a lot of useful advice on tools cataloguing and conservation.

Photographs Janet Saunders 2003


Examining a shooting plane.

Examining a special plane.

Database and Photography Training

The Saunders Tools Collection team was trained in Catalist (The National Trust's cataloguing software) and photography to NT standards.  The team leader generously offered the use of his office/workshop premises and the team undertook a full examination of the tools and artefacts, re-cataloguing and photographing them, entering them into the Catalist database and assessing them for any conservation needs.  This took place under the guidance of National Trust curatorial staff.

Data entry into the Catalist software.

Data entry into the Catalist software.

Identifying a block plane.

Identifying a block plane.
Photographing a shooting plane.

Photographing a block plane.

Open Day

In February 2008, an open day was held to demonstrate the team's activities to National Trust staff members with an interest in the tools collection.  Team members demonstrated the processes involved and a discussion took place regarding the eventual display of the collection.

Packing the catalogued items.

Packing the catalogued items.
Instruction in conservation techniques.

Instruction in conservation techniques.

Conservation Training

With the bulk of the identification and cataloguing done, the Saunders Tools Collection team attended a training workshop led by George Monger, a conservation specialist based in Stowmarket, Suffolk.  After a video presentation about the principles of conservation, George demonstrated the skills and techniques needed to address issues such as corrosion, woodworm and moulds, working on some of the tools from the collection.  A question and answer session concluded the day's activity.

Conserving a plaster cast.

Conserving a plaster cast.

 The Display Taking Shape

Photographs Brian Smith and Sarah Barfoot 2007-09

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