|Here you can see two of the windows. They all featured a surprising amount of red, making them seem rather lurid.|
After the museum, we went to the Pen Museum in the Jewellery Quarter. For quite awhile, Birmingham was the centre of both the jewellery trade and the steel pen trade. The Pen Museum housed tons and tons of metal pen nibs (including giant ones for use on posters!), pen nib boxes, and the machinery used to punch and shape pen nibs, plus fountain pens and typewriters of varying vintages, which you could actually test out. For years we kept Mom's old university typewriter in the basement and when I was little, I remember playing with it was fair bit, and getting frustrated with the keys would all jam together. This was the first time I'd used a typewriter since Mom's ribbon ran out of ink - they even had ribbons with black and RED ink! It was all very fun, but I came away very grateful for computers. I can't imagine typing an essay - a thesis - a novel - on a typewriter!
If we'd had more time, we would have booked a tour of the Jewellery Quarter Museum as well, but instead we set off through the quarter on a hike up to Matthew Boulton's house, Soho House, where the Lunar Society met. One the way, we passed buildings that were (are?) jewellery workshops.
Boulton was quite the man. The house originally abutted the land taken up by Boulton's ground-breaking Soho Manufactory (sadly, it's all suburbs now). With James Watt, Boulton came up with a new version of the steam engine, which ended up in factories all over the country. He also minted coins and lobbied for an assay office in Birmingham, which allowed for the growth of the silver trade in the city. Plus, how can you not love a man who had a Fossilry in his house - that is, a room for storing fossils!
If we ever go back to Birmingham, we'd also like to see the university campus, Winterbourne House and garden, Aston Hall, and the Birmingham back-to-backs, the last surviving court of houses in the city, but you have to book ahead, as they only allow tours of eight through at a time.