by Pamela Currie

The Collectors Group was formed in October 1976 at the home of Mrs Cadogan. The small committee included Mrs Cadogan, Mrs Hendry, and Mrs Acton and it was agreed to have a subscription of 50 pence per year. During November, Mrs Stewart gave a talk on Victorian Jewellery at the Club Flat, No 5 Buccleuch Place that went well.

The following January Lady Robson hosted the Collectors Group at 14 Heriot Row and members heard Dorothy Whyte speak on Paisley Shawls. Wine and refreshments were served and it was a very successful party. In March, Keith Frost gave a talk on Persian Rugs and the final meeting of the year was held at the home of June Bedford when a talk on American Indian Bead Work was given. The numbers during this first year averaged 36. It was agreed to keep to that number to allow for the possibility of holding some future meetings in members' houses. A waiting list was formed for other Tea Club members who were interested. In October 1977 a meeting was held at the home of Birgitte Taylor with a talk on Gems, Minerals, Silver and Lace. The November meeting hosted Mr Herrald, of Herrald Antiques, who gave an informative talk on Buying and Collecting Antiques

January 1978 saw a visit by Miss Julia Poole from the Royal Scottish Museum who talked about French Silver. The year continued through the summer term with an evening called Collectors Pieces, to which members brought objects of special interest. The final meeting of the year was a Buffet Luncheon at the home of Lady Appleton in Elie which included a visit to the Fisheries Museum at Anstruther.

The average attendance was maintained at 35 and the subscription remained at 50 pence. The original committee retired at the AGM and a new trio would take over the following term. It had been a very successful year. During this time a wide range of subjects was covered. These included Glass Engraving, Jewellery and Jade, and Mauchline Ware. In the year 1980 - 81 there were talks on New Town Conservation and Antique Dolls and in January of that year 16 members went to The National Gallery of Scotland for a guided tour and a discussion of 8 pictures. The winter term finished with a talk by Margaret Swann on Antique Chairs and Cupboards at the February meeting to which Dr. Semeonoff brought his collection of Victorian Music Covers.

Throughout 1981-82 the Collectors Group went from strength to strength with a full total of members and a very varied programme, which included a talk on Silver by Professor Spreull, Venetian Architecture by Deborah Howard (Mrs Longair), Antique Cameras by John Copeland and English Pottery and Porcelain by Dr. Kemp. And finally, a visit to the Royal Company of Archers where Capt. Burnett spoke of its history, medals, paintings and customs. This year, Mrs Watt retired as group chairman and Mrs Shepperson succeeded her. At the AGM Mrs Mackie agreed to stay on as treasurer and Mrs Geissler became Hon. Secretary. By 1983 - 84 there were 39 members. The topics for the year included Jewellery Appraisal, a visit to the National Library of Scotland, Picture Postcards, Oriental Craftsmanship, and Needlewomen's Treasures. At the AGM that year Mrs Geissler handed over after two years to Mrs Baxter. Mrs Jackson and Mrs Hendry joined the committee and Mrs Semeonoff remained as Chairman.

The programme for 1985 - 86 included a visit to Anne McKenzie's home and a talk on Old Cookery and Needlework Books, a talk on Quilting and Patchwork from Mr Peterson's collection and a visit to Margaret Oliver's historic home, at East Morningside House. There were also visits to the Dean Village and Cabby Stewart's house on the bridge, and Peffermill House and Hermits and Termits, both houses restored by architects to form combined homes and offices. The AGM that year was followed by Members Choice, to which objects of interest and charm were brought by members. Dr Oliver agreed to continue as Chairman, Mrs Tothill succeeded Mrs Hendry and Mrs Ryle continued as Secretary.

A highlight of 1986 - 87 was a visit to Christies Fine Art, for a talk on The World of the Auctioneer by Michael Clayton, who showed some of his unusual pieces. In February there was a visit by the Curator of the National Monuments Record of Scotland. A combined AGM was held with a picture sharing session to follow. In November the Collectors Group visited the home of Mr and Mrs Clarke in Ramsay Gardens to see their collection of Japanese Netsuke. During the following spring term, Dr Waterston (formerly of the Royal Scottish Museum) gave an illustrated tour of the Scottish Islands with the help of a rather temperamental projector. Not an unusual happening, as members will recall over the years.

In October 1988 Dr David Lamb gave a talk at the Club Flat entitled The History of Pewter from 1650 to 1900, and there was a fascinating talk on Wooden Articles by Professor Watt, followed by a joint meeting in November, with the main club when Kate Love spoke on Enamelling Techniques. The first meeting of the spring term in 1989 was marked by a visit to the home of Lady Smith where Dr Kemp spoke about Blue and White China from 1989 - 1900. There were splendid refreshments to follow and the evening was greatly enjoyed. At the AGM of 1990, Pamela Currie succeeded Dorothy Ryle as Secretary, and Betty Finney continued as Treasurer. In October 1990 there was a talk at the Club Flat on Victorian Needlework given by Esme Lindsay to which members and guests brought their own samples. In November 1990 the Collectors had a joint meeting with the Forty Group, which included a tour of the Old College and a talk on Victorian Jewellery and Scrimshaw.

During the Spring Term, 1991, John Bartholomew gave a talk at the Club Flat on Early Maps, and in April 1991 the Collectors visited the home of Mrs Lilian Finlay to see her Variety of Treasures and her superb collection of dolls houses and furniture made by herself. The term ended with a joint visit with the Garden Group to the home of Mrs More-Gordon, the Manor House, Inveresk. There was a tour of the house and gardens, in glorious sunny weather, followed by wine and refreshments and a chance to enjoy the paintings of Mr More-Gordon. At the AGM that year, Dr Oliver retired as Convener and Mrs Geissler, a former Secretary, succeeded her. Dr Oliver was made an honorary member of the Collectors Group in recognition of all she had done since the beginning of the group in 1976.

In October 1992, there was a most interesting, illustrated talk held at the Club Flat, by Rufus Read entitled Chitral, Swat and Hunza - the valleys of Northern Pakistan. Mr Read dressed for the occasion in the clothes of the area, including an incredible turban style headdress that lent an exotic air to the whole evening. Mr Read arranged high-quality tours of the area at that time, and the exquisite slides of the country and the samples of artefacts he brought made it a memorable occasion.

November 1992 saw the Collectors making a tour of the Georgian House, in Charlotte Square, led by Sheila Kennedy, the National Trust Director at the time. She also hosted an elegant tea in the drawing room at which members could ask further questions.

The following January, Mr Patterson of Hamilton and Inches came to the Club Flat to give a talk on Scottish Provincial Silver- Early 18th Century and Modern. He brought along his colleagues, Mr Williams and Mr Gillan. We were told that clocks were the speciality of Mr Gillan and it was hoped that a talk could be arranged for the future as members showed great interest. They brought along many costly items and it was a great pleasure to be allowed to handle them. In February 1993 we had a wonderful talk and slide show on Puppets at the Club Flat and the AGM, held at the home of Mrs Geissler in March was enhanced by the chance to see her superb collection of rugs.

The winter term began with an illustrated talk on Ceramic Sculpture by Mrs Lorraine Fernie, held at the home of Pamela Currie, and the proposed talk by Mr Gillan on Clocks was extended to the entire club. The highlight of the term was a talk by Dr Duncan Macmillan on Aspects of Scottish Painting, which was well attended by all Women's Club members. About this time, it became apparent that so much of what the Collectors Group was doing was of interest to the University Women's Club as a whole, and from then on most of the meetings were shared ones.

After a talk on Glassmaking at the Club Flat during the spring term 1994, which was not well attended, it was realised that it was becoming difficult to find subjects clearly linked to personal collections that had not been done before. More joint visits to museums, etc., were undertaken and proved popular. One particularly excellent show of patchwork and embroidered garments, was held in the Upper Library, and was enjoyed by the whole club. At this point, it was decided to put the Collectors Group in abeyance for a while. Sadly, it has not revived to date, but during its time it was a worthwhile part of the University Women's Club, and left many memorable moments for all members to recall following its history of just over eighteen years.

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