Brass and cord - Late nineteenth to early twentieth century
This set of two decorative hairpins is from the Democratic Republic of Congo. They are made of brass. Metal was an important store of wealth in the Congo during the colonial era, and these hairpins may have been made with either local metal or imported sheet metal brought to the region by Europeans for use in trade.
These hairpins were brought to Reading by John and William Forfeitt. They both travelled to what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo for the Baptist Missionary Society, the former as Secretary and the latter as a Missionary. It is likely objects such as this were collected as curios, given up by locals who had been converted to Christianity, or brought back to Britain for use in missionary exhibitions and fundraising talks. The Forfeitts had links to significant Reading families and businesses - both worked for Suttons Seeds before their mission with the BMS, and William Forfeitt married a daughter of the Collier family.
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