Greeting Cards Further Information

Emotions on the cards

The garnet ring of a man about to be hanged; the world’s oldest football – perhaps a lucky charm for the young princess who would be Mary Queen of Scots; a hand-painted fan used by women in the 17th and 18th century to cover their faces to disguise their political allegiances; six links of a chain used on ‘maniacs’; a Samurai sword; a 17th century Scottish ‘pinte’ jug for beer…

These six objects were the subject of a compelling project in which UWA’s Winthrop Professor Susan Broomhall from the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions (CHE) was involved.

For more than a year, Professor Broomhall worked with curators and historians at the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum in the Scottish city and ancient burgh of Stirling. She supervised early career researchers who investigated each of the objects which are part of the Museum’s extensive collection.  

The group then created greeting cards about each object, highlighting in simple language and bright imagery the ways in which the emotions represented in each artefact are still alive after centuries.

The red-jewelled ring, which had belonged to the Reverend James Guthrie – a passionate Covenanter who became a martyr to his faith – was handed down through six generations of daughters of Church of Scotland ministers after the Rev. Guthrie made his last request: that it be given to his wife.

Not all the artefacts are valuable. The chain from the healing pool at St Fillan at Killan was once used to restrain the mentally ill outdoors and overnight and may have been used for ‘witches’ until the 19th century.

 "This has been an important research training project for early career scholars working with scholarly experts and practitioners in CHE and the Smith,” Professor Broomhall said.

“Through the project, the researchers were able to develop museum-ready skills, learning not just how to pitch detailed research in an accessible and engaging way but also considering visual elements of the card design and identifying image details to capture readers' attention.

"We're thrilled with the results and are grateful to the Smith staff for their willingness to participate in a unique experience for early career Australian scholars.”
Dr Joanne McEwan from UWA’s Discipline of History was involved in the research for the football card.  “What is so fascinating about the football are the possibilities”, McEwan said. “Yes, perhaps the explanation is simple and it was kicked into the rafters during a game. But what if it wasn’t? Some of the earliest occupants of the Palace at Stirling where it was found were the young Mary Queen of Scots and later her son, James VI. At a time when superstitions and charms were commonplace, the unstable political and religious climate of the sixteenth century makes alternative explanations all the more intriguing”.

Colin O’Brien, Chairman of the Smith Trustees said; “I am thrilled that students from the other side of the world have recognised the beauty and the significance of some of the objects in the Smith’s rich social history collections. I am sure that the publication of these lovely cards will lead to a greater appreciation of all that we have in the Stirling Smith.”

View the catalogue

Link to Stirling Smith Museum