Ever curious, Drake’s calls on friends, family and acquaintances for an episodic enquiry focused on a single theme.
Continuing the theme of memories and significant moments kicked off by our last instalment, for our third Survey we uncover the tales behind a set of unusual and much-loved objects. Family heirlooms, treasured childhood toys, dream homes and mysterious flea market finds: each item carries its own sentimental worth, valuable not in figures but in the very personal stories they carry. We speak to Jason Jules, Matthew Hranek and Oliver Stratford, among others, to find out more.
Paul Hedge – Owner of Hales Gallery
Back in 1999 I bought a lovely silver cuff link box in a flea market. I loved it the moment I set eyes on it and it continues to fascinate me despite the fact that it is engraved with the name and details of somebody I do not know.
Who is Walter J. Parker? I have no idea. I have tried to track him (or any of his living relatives) down with no luck. Why did he make this stunningly crafted box in 1959? Again, I have very little to go on. What interests me is that he resided in Sheffield (his address is written twice on the underside of the box), a city well known for the cutlery and silver industry. He was obviously a very skilled silversmith, probably too skilled for an amateur. The engraved text and abstract patterns are of exceptional quality.
The box has a surprise element too! When the lid is lifted, it plays the tune popularized by Doris Day in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1956 film The Man Who Knew Too Much. Que Sera Sera. Maybe Walter’s wish was to remain anonymous but the combination of his workmanship and his mysterious choice of tune for it has me intrigued.
Tony Sylvester – Menswear Writer & Singer
The first piece of "vintage" I ever owned was pulled out of the back of my dad's closet. When my father joined the navy in 1955, among the pieces of kit he was issued was this “Pusser's Grip,” or "Bag, Traveling" as the bean counters in the quartermasters stores officially logged it as. Issued toward the end of World War II, originally as part of an officer's ordinance only, the grip solved the problem of storage onboard ship by replacing the bulky laminated suitcases with these canvas and leather hold-alls. By no means the rarest, oldest or best preserved piece of vintage militaria I've collected, it still remains my favourite. The rope handle has become exposed, the London grain leather trim has ripped, the tan canvas is soiled and stiff, but it still travels with me across the globe, fitting modern air cabin size regulations to a tee.
Jason Jules – Writer, Stylist & Promoter
It's one of those photographs that would have been black and white originally but then had colour added to it. It doesn't even have a frame. Maybe it was torn out of a Readers Digest or an old copy of Life Magazine. I think my dad had it with him when he first came to England in the early '60s when he was 22. 'This will be our home back in St Lucia,' he would say with pride.
By the time he'd retired, he and my mum had saved enough money to build their dream house and spent some fantastic times there before he passed away a couple of years ago. The house is just as beautiful as my dad had imagined, but I've kept this old, tattered photograph more to remind me that even if they're all I have at the time, I should never give up on my dreams.
Ryuhei Nakadai – Director of Anyhow Design Agency
My father gave me a pen when I turned twenty years old - a stainless steel Parker Sonnet ballpoint. At the time I didn’t quite understand why he’d chosen to give this to me, it seemed a little old-fashioned and stuffy, not the kind of item a young man of that age would want. It took me a while to appreciate the item and I didn’t pick it up for over 15 years. However, lately, things have changed. I rediscovered the Parker and now it has become my go-to pen. It fits me or maybe I’ve grown to fit the pen, I have become the person who deserves it. I now understand why my father chose it and I’ve been thinking about giving the pen to my kids when they reach their twenties.
Oliver Stratford – Editor-in-Cheif Disegno Magazine
Bar a four-year period in which I stuffed him in a backpack and forgot where I had put him, Pink Rabbit has been an ever present in my life. He is a mass manufactured, fluoro pink soft toy, won from a crane game by my brother when I was very small, and immediately named with impressive brio and imagination. He is an absolute treasure.
Over the years he has become mothy and battered, in some ways a little grotesque. One eye has cracked, giving him a large, leering orange pupil; his whiskers have fallen out; his lurid fur become a little matted; the wale of his corduroy dungarees all but worn away. Pink Rabbit is now a distinguished older gentleman, elegantly wasting away into his own disgrace.
When I was younger, he took up pride of place on my bed. Today, Pink Rabbit has moved ever so slightly to the side and taken up a new position as Chief Librarian of the Stratford Institute. He now sits atop the pile of several hundred books that are stacked precariously next to my bed because I am too cheap to buy a bookcase. He does a marvellous job of keeping the tomes (viz. the mouldering mass market paperbacks rotting in the damp of my flat) in check.
Matthew Hranek – Men’s Style Editor Conde Nast Traveler
Just over a year ago a started to write a book called A Man and His Watch. The idea was to tell these stories of iconic watches and the men who wore them. I wanted to dig deep into the emotional connections that men have with their timepieces and record the stories behind them. As I thought about my own connection it was obvious that the Rolex Datejust my father left me when he died was important to me. But what I hadn’t realized was that the Winnie the Pooh Sear’s branded mechanical watch that my paternal grandmother gave me when I was 5 or 6 was still in my mother’s jewellery box.
My mother asked me if I wanted it for the book in a very nonchalant way, like I knew it was always there. You see my grandmother bought absolutely everything from the Sear’s catalogue and I was a VERY serious Winnie the Pooh kind of kid (NOT Mickey Mouse). Everything I owned from sheets to pajamas was Pooh. I guess this watch started my obsession with timepieces. It is certainly the first watch I ever owned. I have owned dozens of watches since and most of much greater value, but nothing can replace this watch for me. It is the watch that started it all. This little Winnie the Pooh watch connects me to my grandmother and my childhood in such a powerful way.