A heart cut from red woollen cloth, a ribbon of blue paduasoy silk and a piece of lenen diaper. 'The bit of red cloth enclosed was pinned to the childs cap.
Last night I went to an evening at the Foundling Museum which featured reflections on seperation and loss by Professor Sir Michael the curator Professor John Sykes. I hadn't heard or visited the Foundling Museum before until I read about their current exhibition in Selvedge Magazine. The exhibition features a collection of textile tokens left with abandoned children at the original Foundling hospital, which opened in 1741.
In 18th Century London many babies were abandoned in the streets, the Foundling Hospital offered hope to women and children who would have perished left to their own devices.
It was amazing to see the hospitals system of cataloging the babies on arrival, clothing, features, any special marks and the textile token offering a gateway to the parent to recognise and reclaim their child at a later date. Inspite of only 1% of children being reclaimed the hospital maintained their meticulous register without judgement.
The range of textile tokens is also interesting, demonstrating different classes, many with symbols of hope such as flowers, acorns and butterflies or symbolic weight such as knotted ribbon to denote the tie of the mother to the baby.
I highly recommend a visit to this special exhibition (on until 6th March 2011) and museum.