Object of the week- Joey the monkey
Despite his slightly sinister appearance, this cheeky monkey actually has a touching tale to tell.
Currently on display at Abbey House Museum, the soft toy is part of an exhibition exploring some of history’s hidden hazards but came to the museum thanks to a gesture of brotherly love.
Dating from around 1968-69, the monkey was originally made by Chad Valley for Woolworths.
It was bought for a young Terry Gudgeon by his older brother after the youngster banged his head on a counter in the Briggate branch of Woolworths in Leeds city centre.
Christened Joey, it is on display as part of an exhibition called Danger Zone, which looks at the potentially deadly risks people unwittingly took through exposure to seemingly innocuous items like medicines, food and even the clothes they wore.
Among the other objects on display are a bottle of potassium chlorate pastilles used to soothe sore throats in the 1880s. Although supposedly beneficial, as the name suggests, the sweets actually contained potassium chlorate which could spontaneously combust in the owner’s pocket.
And a top hat manufactured in around the 1840s contains mercury, which was commonly used at the time.
As a consequence, workers who made hats were often aggressive due to heavy metal poisoning, the origin of the well-known phrase ‘mad as a hatter.’
Kitty Ross, Leeds Museums and Galleries’ curator of social history, said: “The sheer range of items we have on display really does illustrate how our perception and awareness of danger is something which continues to develop through the decades.
“Every new danger we are able to spot helps inform our knowledge of the world around us so in their own small way, each of the items we have on display here has contributed to making our lives safer.”
Danger Zone runs at Abbey House Museum until December 31. For more details including admission prices, opening hours and the programme of talks, please visit: https://www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries/abbeyhouse/exhibitions/danger-zone