A mystery gift and
some family history

When I was twenty, I lived with others in one house.
(We don’t know “student campus” in Holland, students usually share
a “normal” house) There where four girls in the house. Two of them lived on the ground floor, sharing a kitchen and bathroom, and I lived upstairs with Lenny. Lenny and I shared not only the kitchen & the bathroom but also our clothes, our thoughts, our sorrows… our lives!
She became a very close friend, more like a sister (we both never had) and
I still call her “sis” sometimes!
I don’t see her very often, she moved and I moved, but we write long letters and once in a while we come together. Last Thursday we did, we had dinner in a nice little restaurant and she brought me a gift!
It came in this
little, paper bag
(although Lenny doesn’t scrap, she shares my love for beautiful paper!) which made it look somewhat mysterious…
but the gift inside was sort of a mystery too!  


OK, that’s one corner of the veil… it has to do with typography!
The title says so, but what’s in this
little tin box?



WOW, what the heck… there’s tiny little alphabets in it! And I see tools (tweezers, screws, butterfly nuts…) and an ink pad.
But what are those wooden “things”… 




It’s obviously old. Slightly corroded and the ink dried up. I had to take a closer look (yep, right there, on the clean white table linen in the middle of the restaurant – you would too don’t you?!) and took some tools out of the box.  

There are three wooden “holders” to put the alphabet in (using the tweezers I guess)
I also discover that the holders 
can be connected by using the screws…   




…like this!

But who used this?
It’s too small 
to be used in
a professionel
printing office. 
Maybe a toy
for amateurs?
I really don’t know.
I’ve never seen something like
this before!

There are still words in the holders spelling “To sir…” and “Bridge Club”…
that makes me soooo curious! Who did that? Who owned this?
It is a mystery!
(I didn’t ask Lenny where she got it from, that’s not very neat to do when you get a present, but my curiosity grows and grows so maybe I’ll ask her where she got this. I’m also planning on cleaning AND using it soon!)


This is gonna be a long post, ’cause today I received a mail from my dad with some additional information about Jan Maljers. If you saw the scrap about my great-great-grandfather and liked it you should read further! It’s a fine little story about Jan! (And if you did not, or want to refresh your memory,
go to the former post. What makes me think of this: in some comments 
you defined him as “full of mischief” and “gentle soul” – I liked that!)

I made a short version of the family tree to go with this post (including the people this story is about) so you can take a look at the connections too…
The things my dad wrote about Jan Maljers:
(first in Dutch, translation in English after that) 

“De bijnaam van Jan Maljers was Jan Kuper (of de kuper)
Hij werd 96 jaar, stierf in 1941, ik zag hem nooit.
Tante Jans kon er mooi
over vertellen.
Ze deed daarbij haar ogen dicht, waarschijnlijk om
binnenin te kunnen kijken.
Jan was timmerman, vandaar mogelijk zijn bijnaam kuper,
een verzeeuwsing van kuiper.
Iemand die houten vaten maakte of repareerde.
Jan kuper ging op zijn negentigste jaar nog mee jagen. Jagen was toen nog niet omstreden en deel van het boerenleven.

Op zijn tachtigste jaar kocht hij bij zijn schoonzoon (Eine Brasser, bijgenaamd Eine Kaan) een driewielsfiets. Eine Brasser gaf aan mensen die een fiets bij hem kochten desgewenst ook fietsles, maar dat wilde de oude Jan niet, vandaar de driewieler. Die fiets had hij nodig om zelfstandig naar Biggekerke te kunnen rijden en aldaar zijn dochter Maria te bezoeken.

Het verhaal wil dat hij altijd middenop de weg bleef rijden.
Ook wanneer hem soms een auto achterop kwam, of de bus bijvoorbeeld, hield hij zijn koers vast. “Ze rien je zommè ie dôôd” was desgevraagd zijn commentaar. Er is nog een mooie foto van hem met die fiets voor de winkel van “oba” Brasser.”


“The nickname of Jan Maljers was Jan “Barrel”. He died in 1941, when he was 96 years of age. Aunt Jans could tell great stories about him.
When she did, she closed her eyes. Probably to look inside herself.
Jan was a carpenter. That possibly explains his nickname, “Barrel-maker”, someone who makes or repairs wooden barrels. Jan still went hunting when he was ninety. Hunting was not questionable and a part of the farmer live in those days.

When Jan was eighty, he bought a tricycle from his son in law Eine
(who was a cycle repairer). Eine gave people who bought a bicycle also lessons (if desired) in how to ride a bike but old Jan didn’t want that. That’s why he bought a TRIcycle. Jan lived in another village, and he needed the bike to ride to Biggekerke independantly to visit his daughter Maria.

The story goes that Jan always rode in the middle of the street.
Even when a car or a bus drove right behind him he hold his course.
“They don’t bump up against you just like that…” he commented in Zeeuws.
There still is a nice picture of him with his tricycle in front of the store of grandpa Brasser somewhere…”

Guess what….
I have exactly that photo for you!

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3 Responses to “A mystery gift and
some family history”

  • jessica Says:

    what a fabulous post Marit…cool gift from Lenny! I truly enjoyed all your family tree and history and that pic of Jan..that is such a treasure!

  • Fauve Says:

    WOW that box is so mysterious,i LOVE it!! What a fabulous gift…
    Love the paper bag too! You should scrap this… 😉

  • Ricky Says:

    Ik leer ook nog wat op deze manier van onze Familie history!! Het stukje Lenny kende ik wel natuurlijk, wat een gouden meid, om je op een moment als dit, nu je zo bezig bent met je scrap blog, zo’n mooi cadeau te geven!!

    Kusjes, broer