Friendly Society snuff box

Matt Edwards – Derby Museum

In March 2011 we bought an ornate snuff box at Bamfords Auction House in Derby. Engraved with flowers and leafy scrolls, the hinged cover is inscribed ‘Presented to Bro C Brown in recognition of 31 years faithful service as Secretary to the Lily of the Valley Lodge of II00FLU Derby 1898′ (Size 7.5cm wide). Although Victorian it shows the progression of high quality metalwork and fashionable goods that began being manufactured in Enlightenment Britain.

 The snuff box is of particular interest to Derby Museums though owing to its inscription. The ‘Lily of the Valley Lodge’ was in fact a ‘friendly society’ in Derby. Before the welfare state friendly societies provided financial and social services to individuals, often according to their religious or political affiliations. Some friendly societies had ceremonial and friendship purposes also. They are used more commonly today purely as a personal financial service although some still act within ancient orders. Cooperative banking is a good example of an existing friendly society.

 The maker, Thomas Hayes (working 1890-1892), belonged to a rich history of silversmiths originating from Matthew Boulton (1728-1809) who created the modern silver trade in Birmingham in the 18th Century. His successful campaign to establish a local assay office provided a hallmarking system to guarantee the silver content of locally manufactured items. Boulton’s enterprise and ideas made him a central figure in The Lunar Society alongside Erasmus Darwin and John Whitehurst whose contribution shaped the Industrial Revolution.

We believe the inscription ‘IIOOFLU’ to be the abbreviation of ‘Junior Independent Order of Odd Fellows Lodges Union. In Latin inscriptions ‘J’s’ are inscribed as ‘I’s’.

At Derby Museum we already have a collection of documents relating to the lodge including committee meeting minutes, annual reports, ledgers etc.

Alms plates

Derby Museum and Art Gallery has bought two alms plates that were used in Derby.

Two of the plates are made from pewter and were used either for alms or as Communion plates at King Street Methodist Chapel, Derby.  One carries the mark ’12’ near the rim and engraved with the words ‘Methodist Chapel King Street Derby’. The second the mark ‘11′ near the rim and engraved with the words ‘Methodist Chapel King Street Derby 1820’.They were likely used to distribute bread at the Communion, rather than collect alms, but that possibility exists.

They may have been from the former New Jerusalem Chapel established in 1814.  Although their is some confusion as a second congregation was gathered by James Robinson who apparently ‘erected’ it at his own expense and which opened on 18th June 1820. Robinson was ordained that August. The building was subsequently used by George Wells as a coach Manufactory and then by motor engineers until it was demolished in c. 1970.

The third alms plate is made from silver-plated pewter.  It is engraved around the border ‘AGARD STREET MEETING DERBY 1822 / Wm Holmes / Thos Bridgett / J Cuppleditch / DEACONS’. Circa 1820.  This  Baptist Chapel in Derby was opened in Agard Street on 12 June 1794. It was built at the sole expense of Archer Ward of Mill Hill House, Derby.

Derbyshire Bank copper plate and bank note

 The Enlightenment! team has recently purchased two bank notes and a copper printing plate.  

The  bank note was drawn at Wirksworth on the Derbyshire Bank for Richard Arkwright, John Toplis and Co.  This refers to Richard Arkwright junior, son of Richard Arkwright the mill owner. 

When Richard Arkwright senior died in 1792 he left much of his manufacturing business to his son Richard.  Richard decided to move away from the mills and instead focus on property and the banking industry.  Richard gained most of his wealth from his banking business Arkwright, John Toplis and Co. of Wirksworth.  


 This twenty pound bank note was issued from Derby and Derbyshire Banking Co.

Richard Arkwright Junior with his wife Mary and daughter Anne. Joseph Wright. Derby Museum and Art Gallery.

New token and the one that got away