Mr Geoffrey Simpson: Antiques and Antiquities

Wednesday 4 April 2018: Mr Geoffrey Simpson: Antiques and Antiquities

Paddy Geoffrey
Probus President, Paddy McGowan [left] with guest speaker, Geoffrey Simpson

Geoffrey began his talk by literally blowing his own trumpet – in this case a bronze age ox horn some 3000 years old.   This gave him the opportunity to explain that his interests are in both Antiquities [items that are very old] and Antiques [items around 100 years old].  He had brought with him a number of objects of both types and started by passing round a 200 million year old fossil from the Jurassic Period.   Common in the Lias Clay beds on the Antrim coast it was thought to be one of the Devils Toenails before being properly identified as an early mollusc. This exhibit was followed by a polished segment of dinosaur jawbone [complete with teeth] before showing off some stone-age axe heads crafted from volcanic porcellanite and flint.   The bronze age saw the arrival in Ireland of Celtic smiths and the first jewellery delicately worked in gold and bronze.   Members were enthralled by a beautifully decorated gold ring from this period.   Moving on to the modern era Geoffrey passed around a number of small items, the most intriguing of which was a tobacco box which once contained Dr White’s Glasgow Presbyterian Mixture as smoked by the Rt Hon Stanley Baldwin; at least that is what it said on the tin.   Other items included ivory pill boxes and snuff boxes, suddenly back in fashion in some quarters as receptacles for cocaine.  He was thanked for a most interesting talk by Probian, Michael Cooney.