This key, seen in Hazel’s pics earlier, is inscribed ‘Weeks’ Museum, Tichborne Street’. It’s a little thing, something to wind up a clock maybe? With a curious inscription. So I idly googled it, thinking I wouldn’t get anywhere. Wrong. Here is some information about Thomas Weeks, ‘perfumer and machinist’ and his museum of mechanical models, founded in 1797 in Tichborne Street, London. Visitors paid half a crown to view the exhibits and could order examples of the objects on show, designed by Weeks and made in the workshops of leading craftsmen nearby.
The Picture of London in 1802 says: ‘This Museum, on the plan of the celebrated Mr. Cox’s(?), when complete, will form an interesting object to the curious. The grand room, which is 107 feet long, and 30 feet high, is covered entirely with blue satin, and contains a variety of figures, which exhibit the effects of mechanism in an astonishing manner.’
It seems the museum had not yet opened as it continues: ‘Previous to its opening, by way of specimen, two temples are exhibited, nearly seven feet high, supported by sixteen elephants, embellished with seventeen hundred pieces of jewellery, in the first style of workmanship’. These temples were in fact ‘two magnificent clocks, engaged for the Emperor of China, at nine thousand pounds’.
Other attractions included mechanical models of a bird of paradise and a tarantula spider; the latter was ‘formed of steel’ and ‘darts out by itself from a box . . . and, in fact, performs all the appropriate movements of the insect which it represents’.
A key to what then?