Page revised 13 October 2003
An exhibition was held in Kilkenny, Ireland from 30 June to 21 September 2003, titled
COLLECTING ARMS, CRESTS & MONOGRAMS: A FORGOTTEN PASTIME
The city of Kilkenny renowned throughout the world for its sixteenth and seventeenth century buildings; for the impressive castle, ancestral home of the Butler family; for Kilkenny Design Centre in the Castle's Georgian stable complex; for the magnificent and beautiful St. Canice's cathedral; for the Cat Laughs festival and for its Arts Festival had an unusual additional attraction in 2003. For three months, from 30 June to 21 September, visitors had a rare opportunity to view a selection from what is almost certainly the world's largest and most important collection of albums of arms, crests and monograms and related ephemera.
Kilkenny Archaeological Society hosted this unique exhibition at its headquarters in the sixteenth century Rothe House. The house, a major tourist venue, is a complex of three buildings dating from 1594 to 1610, and is open to the public. .
The pastime is rightly described as forgotten. It is now remembered by a small number of collectors of crest albums and by others, if at all, from the albums of long dead relatives which have descended down the generations as family mementos. Yet it was extremely popular through the second half of the nineteenth century: as one browsed the exhibits the reasons for its popularity were revealed.
A booklet was published to accompany the exhibition which covered the origins of the hobby, and detailed the firms involved in publishing crests albums and sets of crests for the collector. There were sections also on the hobby in America, Australia, India and continental Europe.
A handsome commemorative crest was commissioned as a memento of the exhibition.
Further details of the exhibition, booklet and commemorative crest will be found on the site of Kilkenny Archaeological Society.
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