Includes interesting stories from the world of leather and updates on the Museum. Issued periodically.
One of the many joys of volunteering at the Museum of Leather Craft – you can too, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org – is you never know what you’ll come across next. While clearing away some “rubbish” ready for the move to our new site – see http://www.northamptonchron.co.uk/news/museum-of-leathercraft-to-open-up-in-grosvenor-centre-in-northampton-later-in-2016-1-7396145 – I came across a book about Connolly Leather Company in which W. Heath Robinson illustrated his take on the tanning process, and I found a number of Connolly adverts extolling the company’s leathers.
I don’t know how many adverts there were, but the museum has six examples about the ‘connotation of a word or phrase is what it implies in a particular connection.’ Here are three.
‘mind your “p’s and q’s”. There are many possible explanations as to the origin of minding you p’s and q’s – perhaps the most likely is that it was originally the writing master’s warning that a carelessly formed ‘p’ could be easily confused with an ‘h’ and a ‘q’ with a ‘g’. Happily, when it comes to leather there is no possible confusion – Connolly’s is the best and no other is quite like it.’
This connotation is interesting as my understanding of the phrase “minding your p’s and q’s” comes from the print industry. When print type was hand set, it was put into the chase ‘backwards’, so it printed the correct way and the letters ‘p’ and q’ were easily reversed, hence the typesetter had to beware, and mind the p’s and q’s or the lettering would ‘puite qrobably’ be wrong‼
Another printing connotation was displayed in a second poster. ‘Out of Sorts’ When a printer ran out of a particular letter – called a ‘sort’ he said he was ‘out of sorts’. Sometimes this post-war world makes us too feel a bit out of sorts – in another connotation. We would feel a lot better if we had more and better raw material which we could pick and choose as of yore. However, in the dressing and finishing we make the best of it and if the “selection” of the hides is sometimes wanting it is only because we are “out of the sort” you would prefer.’
One final Connolly Connotation, the phrase ‘hell for Leather’. The advert suggests ‘the horsey origin of the phrase was ‘all of a lather’, which experts tell us, gradually changed to ‘Hell for leather’. Even though there may originally have been no connection between leather and the maximum effort, that is the association which we at Connolly do our best to preserve. To get the raw material we require is indeed a real effort and, when we have got it, no effort is spared to give our hides the true Connolly finish.’
The quote ‘I can’t improve on that, Mr Connolly’ from W Heath Robinson, picture 4, came after several visits to the Connolly tannery where went to get ideas for drawings he made in the 1920s. He saw Connolly Brothers’ remarkable pinwheel measuring machines, and admitted he could not have invented anything so amazing. However, he did complete a number of drawings that were originally used to celebrate the Golden Anniversary of the company’s formation. They were released, again, for the centenary in 1978. If you would like to see the book contact us, and come and have a look – it’s free!