I.S. Varian & Co., brushmakers. North Dublin

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Where: Unknown

Try to find the spot where the photographer was standing.

When: 01 January 1904

Try to find the date or year when this image was made.
To finish off the week we make a visit to the Mason Collection. What a great variety of brushes, I wonder can we identify all the different uses? In the 1911 Census there are 337 people with "brush" as part of the description of their occupation. These included: Brush Maker, Brush Finisher, Brush Drawer, Brush Trade, Brush Manufacturer, Brush Washer, Brush Merchant, Brush Borer and Brush Traveler. While I'm not sure what a "Brush Traveler" may have done, does the "St Louis - 1904" signage suggest that these particular brushes went on a journey?

This particular Mary must admit to knowing nothing of I.S Varian & Co, brushmakers - before today's researches that is. Particularly striking is the longevity of the business. First founded in Cork in 1798, the company was based from Dublin's Talbot Street since 1856 - and still operating from Walkinstown into the 21st century. They had upwards of 360 employees in the 1940s - some of whom continued an interesting employee renunion tradition on unique dates (4/4/1944, 5/5/1955, etc) - until recent decades. The other interesting thing (clearly) about the business were the displays of their wares. Including their display at the 1904 St Louis Worlds Fair. Given the mention of St Louis and 1904 in this particular display, it seems likely that (though probably not from the St Louis exhibition), our image dates from after this time. Perhaps 1904 - plus a few years.....


Photographer: Thomas H. Mason

Collection: Mason Photographic Collection

Date: Catalogue range c.1890-1910. Likely after c.1904.

NLI Ref: M13/14

You can also view this image, and many thousands of others, on the NLI’s catalogue at catalogue.nli.ie

Info:

Owner: National Library of Ireland on The Commons
Source: Flickr Commons
Views: 7330
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  • profile

    domenico milella

    • 24/Nov/2017 08:38:27

    Congratulation for your beautiful Album.

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    Wendy:

    • 24/Nov/2017 08:52:43

    wonderful symmetrical design!

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    sharon.corbet

    • 24/Nov/2017 09:04:52

    The Irish Times had an article in 2005 about the history of Varian Brushes.

  • profile

    sharon.corbet

    • 24/Nov/2017 09:07:59

    They seem to like interesting displays - you can just make out their display on the left below: [https://www.flickr.com/photos/nlireland/6308720554]

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    sharon.corbet

    • 24/Nov/2017 09:10:07

    The World's Fair was in St. Louis in 1904, so that may explain the reference.

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    Bernard Healy

    • 24/Nov/2017 09:13:34

    An article showing the significance of St Louis 1904.

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    sharon.corbet

    • 24/Nov/2017 09:23:25

    Varian are listed in the "Irish Industrial Exhibition" for the St. Louis World's Fair.

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    Niall McAuley

    • 24/Nov/2017 09:26:15

    We had a hardback collection of American newspaper cartoons (from the 50s) when I was small called "Honey, I'm Home!", and I seem to remember the door-to-door brush salesman was a stock character.

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    CASSIDY PHOTOGRAPHY

    • 24/Nov/2017 09:31:19

    Today, everything is Made-in-China, in factories resembling slave ships, for slave wages, populated by Chinese ethnic minorities and the under-educated, whom do not even rate as second class citizens.

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    John A. Coffey

    • 24/Nov/2017 10:56:56

    See distemper brushes there , they are used for white washing old cottages, and would travel from neighbour to neighbour, when finished washed and hung in the shed until another fine day.

  • profile

    John Spooner

    • 24/Nov/2017 11:30:31

    On the subject of brushes, mechanical hair brushes in Newry www.flickr.com/photos/nlireland/10958329045/in/photolist-...

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    John Spooner

    • 24/Nov/2017 11:49:17

    [https://www.flickr.com/photos/scorbet] Another variation on the Varian brush display, at the International Exhibition in Herbert Park in 1907, reported by Freeman's Journal on 29 April 1907

    In another wing is Varian's brushes. It is two Irish round towers of great height, built entirely of brushes, with the brush side outwards. It is an ingenious and happy way of supporting the firms nationality and business at one and the same time.
    I do hope there's a photo somewhere.

  • profile

    John Spooner

    • 24/Nov/2017 11:59:24

    Which sounds nothing like their display at the end of the exhibition (Weekly Irish Times - Saturday 09 November 1907)

    It would be impossible to give here even the barest mention in that wing alone , but I was particularly struck with the display of Messrs. Varian, brush manufacturers. Along with the finest specimens of the finished work, they give us, also, a model brush factory, lit up by electricity, showing the various stages of the brush in the making. The show is very effective.

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    Bernard Healy

    • 24/Nov/2017 12:51:44

    In 1911 we had Walter Amos Varian (aged 60) living either above or next to the factory in Talbot Street. (I can't help but note that he was an agnostic!) The rest of the family involved with brushes seem to be based in Blackrock, Stillorgan and Dalkey.

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    O Mac

    • 24/Nov/2017 12:53:34

    Isaac Stephen Varian and Ralph Varian were active promoters of the national movement and they both spent time in Cork City Gaol. Their time there was not without controversy as the following newspaper extract from the end of August shows “A FELONIOUS PIE. _ On Thursday a large meat pie, smoking from the oven, was presented at the city gaol, by a servant of the Messrs. Varian, of Patrick street, to be given to Isaac Stephen and Ralph Varian……. the searcher pierced it with a long needle, and finding it contained something hard, lifted the crust and discovered a bottle. On drawing a cork, it was found to enclose 5 or 6 letters and scraps of newspapers… [some of the contents of one of the letters was revealed] … The bottle and its contents have been retained by the authorities. The pie was given to the prisoners.”

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    whatsthatpicture

    • 24/Nov/2017 13:29:34

    Blessed are the brushmakers (or is it cheesemakers?)

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    Bernard Healy

    • 24/Nov/2017 14:16:57

    Ooooh! Another one of their displays - including a boar's head! There are also a few pictures of staff working inside the factory.

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    abovetheclouds_t

    • 24/Nov/2017 14:58:24

    Ahhhh, back when sign painting was appreciated!

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    oaktree_brian_1976

    • 24/Nov/2017 15:43:11

    Yes, 1904 was the Louisiana Purchase Centennial Exhibition. Ireland had a village there, I assume the Brush Man was a part of it. archiseek.com/2012/1904-irish-village-st-louis-worlds-fair/

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    oaktree_brian_1976

    • 24/Nov/2017 15:46:52

    Varian is still around apparently. www.irishtimes.com/business/commercial-property/brush-mak...

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    Seuss.

    • 25/Nov/2017 17:57:25

    Three Éires and one Erin?

  • profile

    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 25/Nov/2017 23:44:07

    Amazing stuff all! I had a it of fun following the threads of discussion on this one. Including this thread about a lovely tradition of employee reunions. Thanks everyone for the inputs on this one :)

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    Dr. Ilia

    • 01/Dec/2017 09:00:07

    masterful capture