This summer Freeman’s welcomes a young industry voice to share his thoughts abroad, as he completes an internship at Freeman’s sister auction house, Lyon & Turnbull in Edinburgh. At just 16, Noble Brigham is an avid collector of antiques and enjoys finding the story in each treasure he finds. 

History Through Objects: Lyon and Turnbull Summer Internship, Part Seven
By Noble Brigham


I am having a wonderful time here.  

On Friday, I worked as a researcher for most of the day.  I helped Theo prepare for an Antiques Roadshow screen test.  She will be presenting a Jacobite firing glass, with a very interesting story.  There were a number of Jacobite (Tory/ supporters of Stuart line) clubs set up in the mid 18th century, and they would drink out of these glasses.  The glasses have sayings or symbols that represent members of the royal family, but look like regular patterns.  They would bang the glasses on tables during toasts, which sounded like muskets firing.   

I then worked on researching a ring associated with William II of Orange.  The ring had dates on them, but one date had no meaning.  The first date 4 Nov. 1688 was his birthday and the day before he invaded England, but the other date 8 Mar 1701 had no meaning.  8 Mar 1702 was his death date, and the ring had his correct age of death so I agreed with the jewelry department that it was probably a mistake on the part of the engraver.  

I then researched a cold-painted bronze table lamp from the turn of the 20th century.  I attempted to make an attribution to Franz Bergman, a well known maker of similar Austrian cold painted bronze items, but was unsuccessful.  The piece shares characteristics with his pieces, but has no mark.  

Saturday was a very quiet day, but in the afternoon, I went to the golf course with Sidney, one of the porters from Lyon & Turnbull and Paul.  I don’t know anything about golfing but kept score and drove the golf cart or as they say in Scotland, “electric buggy.”  It was fun for me but harrowing for them and for others on the course.  It was quite obvious that I have never driven before.  

Sunday, I went to Catholic mass at St. Peter’s with John Byrne and Jeanine Davies.  After a beautiful mass at the church, which is in an arts and crafts design, with leaded windows and religious art, we went to lunch.  After lunch, John showed me his studio.  He was described by Jeanine as “tethered to his easel,” and indeed told me he often loses track of time there.  He is working on a very large painting of a black man standing in a mill town where everything: people, houses, property belongs to the mill owners.  The picture is a statement about Scotland’s denied and covered up role in the slave trade.  

After lunch Sunday, I went to the charity shops in Edinburgh.  Near John and Jeanine’s church there are about 10 of them.  I made several purchases: an antique print of Edinburgh, a piece of pottery (may not be terribly old, the colors are a bit off), and two books. All for about 23 pounds. 

About the Author
Noble Brigham just finished his sophomore year at Episcopal Academy in Philadelphia. History is his favorite subject and he is fascinated by the events of the past and their impact on the present.  

His affinity for antiques and the stories they tell motivate his research where he often finds first owners, original use, and even how they’ve been displaced with new purposes.

At school, Brigham writes and proofreads for the school newspaper, The Scholium. He is the co-president of Young Democrats and is an Historical Researcher for the state board of High School Democrats of Pennsylvania. He is also a member of World Affairs and Model UN. Next year he will found an Archives Club, which will work to preserve and interpret Philadelphia and Episcopal Academy history.