Document of the month

Page updated on: 29/11/2022

Each month we will be showcasing one of the many highlights from within our archive collection.

Title: You Are What You Wear? 

Reference Number: CDX319/13/1 
This colour lithograph, known only as “Welsh Costumes No. 1”, is part of a series of prints published by Newman & Co. of London. 

Whilst this example depicts a group of women dressed in traditional Welsh attire, interestingly, is the use of what we might view as non-traditional colours like purple, green and yellow. 

Traditional Welsh dress largely consists of a black hat, shawl (usually red), and a white apron and worn on special occasions including the Eisteddfod and St David’s Day. Here however, these ladies appear to be showcasing their Welsh dress at market, perhaps indicative of their societal/social status.

Title: The rose is red the violets blue

Reference Number: CAS/A19/41/p19
This Valentine’s card written to an unknown recipient by “one of the beautiful little ballet girls” (c. 1840), inside contains the poem;

The rose is red the violets blue
The devil’s black and so are you

When I consent to wed with you
Leaves shall be red and roses blue
Cats shall have wings & you have sense
To which I’m sure you’ve no pretence
You look just like a church-yard sprite
And is my valentines good night

One of the beautiful little ballet girls

Although it is unclear what exactly inspired this dark rhyme, we can only assume the recipient was not their Valentine…

Title: The Soppitt Psalter

Reference Number: CDX974

This 13th Century psalter, comprised of 144 skins, was given to the Carmarthen Antiquary Society by a Mrs Soppitt in memory of her late husband, Archard Matthew Charles Arthur Soppitt.

Later repaired and rebound by the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, this book of psalms is now enclosed in a Moroccan leather ‘blue levant’ solander case, fitted with two brass catches.

The page edges adorned with gold, and the volume lettered in gilt, this is perhaps one of Carmarthenshire Archives greatest treasures!

Title: A Very Victorian Christmas!

Reference Number: Derwydd H23, Derwydd SG5 & MUS/739

In the 19th century, before festive Christmas cards became the norm, Victorians sometimes put a dark and twisted spin on their seasonal greetings. We have illustrated some examples of the more traditional images and some of the oddities in our collection.

Title: Picton’s Tank?

Reference Number: Trinity College / photographs

The tank was a gift of the National War Savings Committee in appreciation of Carmarthen’s war savings efforts. A procession was formed to escort the tank to its home at Picton Monument but unfortunately broke down on the Quay. The procession proceeded without it.

The Mayor apologised, and had the great pleasure of accepting the tank as a reward for the town's war savings efforts with the townspeople asked to subscribe £50,000 towards the war effort but greatly exceeded this target by raising more than £250,000!

The tank was repaired later that day and made a slow but sure march to its resting place.

Title: Bad Omens

Reference Number: CAS/A19/ Vol XLII (pg. 17)

A newspaper clipping from 1934, detailing the sighting of corpse-candles (Canwyll Corph or Cawyllau Cryff), in the Carmarthenshire area. These flickering lights, thought to foreshadow the death of an individual in Welsh Folklore, had previously been sighted in Llandyssul, Llanstephan, and Llandebie.

So, when you trick or treat this Halloween night, keep your eyes peeled for such a sight!


Title: An Egyptian mystery.

Reference Number: CDX/433/4

An Egyptian State Telegram found in the attic of 29 Quay Street, Carmarthen. It was sent in 1906 and reads 'Tell him to come to Isna on Sunday don't go to El-Mahamid'
It was sent from Howard Carter to Ernest Harold Jones but who the ‘him’ is remains a mystery.

Image of the Egyptian telegram

Title: Different times, different values

Reference Number: MUS/776

Edward Burdett Warren bequeathed the Bumper Hall estate in Jamaica to his brother Thomas Warren, wholesale druggist, of King Street, Carmarthen in 1836. Thomas was in partnership with his son Edward Burdett Warren trading as Thos. Warren & Son. Thomas was for many years connected with Bristol.

Title: A policeman’s lot is not a happy one.

Reference Number: MUS/113

The work diary of Sergeant David Williams 1859 – 1960. Sergeant Williams was based in Carmarthen town and he records any disturbances, law breaking or any other unusual occurrences in the town. His daily routine includes checking on his police Constables, with whom he is often displeased for being intoxicated whilst on duty. He also regularly visits the mayor's office and attends the petty and quarter sessions as well as the assizes.

Title: The Ping-Pong Flight

Reference Number: CDX/017/014

The aircraft, the Lady Peace, landed in a field near Llandeilo on 3 September 1936. The flight was part of an attempted cross Atlantic round trip from Floyd Bennett Field, Brooklyn to Croydon, London and back, but the plane had to land owing to lack of fuel. However, despite this a record crossing time of 18 hours and 8 minutes was achieved.

The pilot was Henry Tindall Merrill, Eastern Airlines No. 1 pilot who by 1936 had flown 2,000,000 miles without injury. He retired in 1961 having reputedly flown more miles than any other pilot in commercial aviation history. The co-pilot was Harry Richman, known for his starring role as Harry Raymond in the 1930 film ‘Puttin’ on the Ritz’.

It was called “The Ping-Pong Flight” because Richman and Merrill had stuffed every nook and cranny of the tail and wings with 41,000 ping-pong balls so that if they had to ditch in the Atlantic there would be enough buoyancy to float the plane. Many of these were autographed by either or both of them and surface occasionally for sale, one was apparently purchased recently by the editor of “The Table Tennis Collector: the Journal of the Table Tennis Collectors’ Society”.