Back in August 2016 we told you all about the Atkinson notebooks (LIVNP 2012.06.216-232) – 17 small hard backed books containing drawings and information on pipes from various parts of the country, produced by one of the leading lights in clay pipe research, David Atkinson .
Over the next few days, we hope to be uploading the last of these notebooks as PDFs so that they will be available to researchers. These really are a mine of information with details of bowl forms and marks as well as possible attributions for the pipes themselves.
What wasn’t apparent to us at the Archive, when we first started scanning these notebooks, was how close the collaboration had been between David Atkinson and the other leading light in pipe research, Adrian Oswald . We were aware that these two titans of the clay pipe world had regularly collaborated with each other but we had not appreciated that these notebooks had clearly been passed between them.
On some of the pages, particularly in the London books, there are annotations in the unmistakable hand writing of Adrian Oswald. Adrian adds comments about the attribution of some of the marks and notes where other examples are known.
We now have instant access to documents and can send and receive messages from the comfort of our own home with just the push of a button, but in the days before the internet the only way information could be exchanged was via the post. It is clear that David sent at least some of his notebooks to Adrian for comment in the same way as he did to one of our Trustees, David Higgins, when he was compiling his PhD thesis on the Broseley pipe industry in Shropshire.
Both David Atkinson and Adrian Oswald were excellent record keepers and both men kept all the letters they were sent. We are lucky enough to now have these letters in our collection, preserving both sides of the conversation. They make for fascinating reading giving us insights into the lives and interests of these two great researchers outside of the world of pipes as well as providing a mine of valuable unpublished information.
It is possible that more connections will come to light as we continue to process the Atkinson Archive, as there are also clear references to the Elkins Collection, another substantial and important group of pipes from London that we now hold. What else will we discover?