> > > Whirrs, Cogs and Thingamabobs

2 July - 15 October 2011

Whirrs, Cogs and Thingamabobs is a collection of over 150 off-beat antique gadgets owned by award-winning collector, Maurice Collins.

Maurice began collecting strange devices and inventions over 30 years ago when he took his teenage son to a rubbish dump near their home to go ‘bottle digging’. Since then he has amassed close to 1600 items ranging from a clockwork burglar alarm to an electric hair-restoring comb. He is also the proud owner of two clockwork teasmaids, a finger stretcher and a mechanical envelope sealer.

The recent winner of Bid TV’s Best British Collector award, Maurice said; “I don’t think anyone else loves collecting ‘thingy-me-bobs’ from the past as much as I do. I started in around 1976 and since then it has become a bit of a hobby”.

Many of the items are kept in museums or exhibitions but Maurice’s home in London is an Aladdin’s Cave of historical inventions, gadgets and tools. The collection dates largely from the Great Exhibition in 1851 to the Festival of Britain in 1951. Maurice also owns six self-pouring teapots, gas mask spectacles and a wooden butter machine.

Other fascinating inventions include a pistol purse which housed a hidden compartment containing a pistol with a single bullet designed to fend off unsuspecting highwaymen!

The exhibition also includes ingenious machines from the Museum’s own collection and is suitable for all the family.