Updated handling boxes

Did you know that we have a range of handling boxes which can be borrowed for free by schools, community groups and care providers? These include loan boxes for schools and reminiscence boxes for older people’s groups.

There are boxes on a range of themes. Some of our most popular boxes for schools cover themes such as toys in the past, schooldays, World War II and the Victorians. Our reminiscence boxes cover themes such as childhood games, holidays, schooldays,  work, going out and life in the home.

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been updating our handling boxes to make sure they are ready for the autumn. The Leisure and Going Out reminiscence box has now been completely redeveloped. One of my favourite objects is this Craven A cigarette tin. Inside the tin it says ‘Made specifically to prevent sore throats’. I love showing this to groups to start discussions about how attitudes to towards smoking have changed over time.

The box also contains some items of clothing, including real fur which really provokes discussion of societal attitudes. There are also some fascinating copies of Petticoat magazine, a women’s magazine from the 1960s and 70s. Some of the articles, adverts and fashion seem very modern, yet others would be unacceptable now or just simply old fashioned.

One of the more tame examples (some are not suitable for this blog) is this letter on the problem page. It is from a girl who is engaged and is worried that she isn’t as good at cooking as her soon-to-be mother-in-law.


Other objects include these hair curling tongs. These would be heated in a fire or gas hob and then used to curl your hair. Some older people’s groups have told me about burning your head or hair on these. Others have discussed ironing your hair (with a household iron)!

2017-07-10 15.50.41

One of the bigger tasks was updating the World War II loan box for schools and reminiscence box for older people’s groups. Both now have new material, images and notes.

One of my favourites is this mystery object.

Do you know what it is?…. (answer below)

2017-08-14 10.22.18

This is a button stick for polishing buttons and badges. You slide it around the button to stop the fabric underneath getting dirty.

If you are interested in finding our more about our handling boxes please see our website or contact me at diana.morton@edinburgh.gov.uk or 0131 529 6365.

About edinburghmuseumsoutreach

I'm the Outreach & Access Manager at Edinburgh Museums & Galleries (the museums service of the City of Edinburgh Council). I take the museums out to community groups and schools. I really enjoy meeting lots of people of different ages and backgrounds and helping them connect with our collections. I love showing people some of the amazing objects that we hold and I like helping them to remember the past or to create something amazing.
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