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Artist and collector of signs and historical objects from the North-East dies at the age of 73 UK News

There has never been a dull moment in the Newcastle home of committed collector Andrew Morley.

Shining and colorful examples from Andrew’s collection of over 100 enamel advertising signs, which he helped save Northeastern stores and streets at a time when they were being thrown, have covered the walls.

In the rest of Arthur’s Hill home there were numerous examples of the vast array of artifacts the retired art teacher collected.

But it was the billboards that fascinated Andrew and, along with his passionate friend and companion Chris Baglee, he has co-authored five books on the subject.

This week, the region’s ace collector passed away at the age of 73.

His passion embraced vintage board games, fireworks, art deco ceramics, carbolic bars of soap, boxes of gramophone needles, pen nibs, puppets, tin piggy banks in shape of Royal Mail pillar boxes, full size letterboxes, cigarette packs, matchboxes, bus tickets, tin cans, cheese tags, spools, tobacco pipes, discs, sewing items , pop posters, taxidermy, Georgian and Victorian glass, black hats, coins, vintage coffee grinders and glasses – and much more.

Andrew was one of the collectors featured in an exhibition called Gotta Have It! in 2009 on what makes people collect, which was curated at the South Shields Museum by Adam Bell.

Adam, Assistant Guardian, Social History at the Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums and Andrew have become good friends.

“Andrew’s house was an Aladdin cave, a treasure. People who saw it were amazed, ”said Adam.

“It was like stepping into a museum storeroom. Every inch of available space on walls and shelves has been taken up by screens. “

Andrew, who taught at Blyth, Wallsend and North Shields schools, studied fine arts in the 1960s at Newcastle University where he struck up a friendship with architectural student Chris Baglee.

They shared an interest in enamel advertising signs that were once visible in the Northeast but were quickly disappearing as redevelopment accelerated.

In 1974, they began their expeditions across the region eventually saving around 500 panels, some of which are now in the Beamish Museum.

“We would go around the northeast to find signs and save them,” said Chris now a semi-retired conservation architect living in Ponteland.

In 1978 they were invited to stage an exhibition at Newcastle’s Laing Art Gallery titled 100 Years of Enamel Signs, which then toured 24 locations in the UK over the next three years.

The friends produced their first book and coined a new term to describe the signs – street jewelry. It received its own entry in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1980.

They wrote of how the signs “sparkled like street jewelry in the drab streets of the northeast”.

The book also sold in the Netherlands, Germany and the United States, and started the hobby of collecting signs. Four more books followed.

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Andrew and Chris founded the Street Jewelery Society, which has accumulated membership numbers around the world.

“It was a fantastic trip for us. We were great friends and Andrew was like a brother to me. He was a lovely and very generous man and he will be sadly missed, ”said Chris.

Adam recorded Andrew’s thoughts for the South Shields exhibit. Andrew said: “I saw a kind of beauty in old advertising, lacking in the sleek new commercial art. At a time when more and more people were disappearing, I was on a mission to save some for posterity.

“My house is full of my different collections, which are all on display. The whole house has become a cabinet of curiosities. Visitors are overwhelmed by the visual impact. “

Andrew Morley has collected over 100 enamel signs and a wide array of objects and artefacts from the North East
Andrew Morley has collected over 100 enamel signs and a wide array of objects and artefacts from the North East

Adam remembers the day he first met Andrew when he knocked on the door of his home in Arthur’s Hill.

He said: “The door opened and, standing in front of me, wearing a velvet cap and a pair of richly embroidered khussa shoes – the guy with the pointed, upturned toes – was Andrew.

“I entered a magical space where every available centimeter contained a fascinating range of yesteryear and curiosities.

“I was amazed as Andrew took me from room to room, each being a mini museum. Even the bathroom and kitchen also contained their own themed curiosity cabinets.

“Andrew was a source of knowledge on many things, but his long-standing passion for enamel signs made him one of the world’s foremost experts in this field, with books co-authored on the subject with his fellow sign collector Chris Baglee.

“He taught me…

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This notice was published: 2021-04-24 15:00:00