Sunday, August 2, 2015

Felicity's Rescue Kit and the History of Apprenticeships

Hey Followers!
      So sorry it has been so long! My schedule has gotten busier now that it is summer time! Also have been having computer issues! But I am ready once again to write!
     A few weeks back I was on Facebook and noticed a woman was posting a lot of Felicity items in an AG Buy/Sell/Trade group at REALLY good prices. So I asked the woman if she had anything else that she hadn't posted yet and she replied, "Yes, I have her Rescue Kit." My heart skipped a beat and I asked her how much she was going to sell it for because I was very interested. She explained that she didn't know the value but a friend had told her it was worth between $50-$80....At this point I am squealing like a school girl because the last auction I had watched with this set went over $120. So I threw out the price of $65 shipped and she said.... that was fine! So I am now the proud owner of her Rescue Kit... in complete and perfect condition.
     So I thought for a while what I could write about with this set... This set is based on the book Felicity Saves the Day. Ben runs away to try to join the Militia to fight against the British, therefore breaching his apprenticeship contract with Mr. Merriman. A ad is put in the newspaper reporting a runaway apprentice and bounty hunters are out looking for him. It makes you wonder, Why is Ben being treated so severely?
     Well first, let me explain the guidelines of a typical apprenticeship. An apprenticeship was a legally binding contract between a young boy (even a few girls have been recorded) and a master craftsman. In Ben's case, it was a contract between Mr. Merriman and himself. The contract entails that the boy is to be in the care of the craftsman and learn his trade for the set amount of years. Many contracts were from when the boy was 14 years old until he turns 21 years old. During this time, in most cases the apprentice lives with the craftsman in his home and works without pay. The part that is important to understanding Ben's case is that the apprentice is not allowed to go anywhere or break his contract without the tradesman's permission. Here is a sample of an actual contract taken from the Colonial Williamsburg Website...
   Witnesseth that the said John Stevens with the advice and consent of his Mother Anne Stevens doth put himself an Apprentice to the said George Charleton to learn the Trade, art, and Mistery of a Taylor and with him after the manner of an Apprentice to serve till he arrives to the Age of Twenty-one Years to be fully compleat & ended During which time the said Apprentice his said Master faithfully shall serve, his secrets keep his Lawfull Commands Obey He Shall not contract Matrimoney within the said Term he shall not haunt Ordinary's nor Absent himself from his Masters Service Day or Night unlawfully but in all things as a Faithfull Apprentice he shall behave himself towards his said Master and Family during the said Term AND the said George Charleton Best means he can shall Teach and Instruct or cause to be taught and instructed AND doth hereby Promise and oblige himself to find for his said Apprentice Good and Sufficient Meat Drink Washing Lodging & Cloathing during the Said Term and to Teach him to Read & Write and at the expiration of his term of servitude the said George Charleton obligeth himself to pay unto his apprentice what the law allows in such cases & agrements . . . At a Court of Hustings for the City of Williamsburg held the 5th Day of September 1748.
       So after reading this, you can see that apprentices in the 18th century didn't have much freedom. And this being a legal document, a person under these guidelines can land themselves in legal trouble if they do not follow the rules in the contract.   
     In this contract it mentions the boys mother, A lot of apprentices were actually orphans. Instead of putting these children into an orphanage of some sort, the colonies would find an apprenticeship for them as per the Orphan Act of 1705, sometimes starting a lot younger than 14 years old. Could Ben in Felicity's books be an orphan? Perhaps! 
Young Ben Franklin
      There are many examples of well known colonial apprentices and tradesman. Benjamin Franklin became an apprentice in 1718 at the age of 12, learning from his older brother the trade of printing. I found a cute story while looking more into this... At 15, Ben Franklin arranged that his food portion of the room and board be paid to him in cash instead of having the meals be made. Benjamin then became a vegetarian after learning that is was cheaper to buy fruits and veggies than it is to buy meat. He used his saved money to buy books! 
Silver with Paul Revere maker mark
      A well known tradesman and apprentice example is Paul Revere, Although he is mostly know for his famous ride, warning the patriots of the British invasion. Paul Revere was actually a very skilled Silversmith. He was an apprentice to his father and first learned to be a silversmith. Paul then in turn had many apprentices, including his two sons. His handy work can still be appreciated today as there are about 500 pieces of his silver still known to exist today including silverware, trays, and christening bowls. Also the most exciting discovery was found in a time capsule made by Samuel Addams, A plaque of inscribed silver made by Paul Revere himself.
Silver plaque found in Boston's time capsule
     Another example I can think of is from the movie Pirates of the Caribbean. The character William Turner, played by Orlando Bloom was an apprentice to a blacksmith. And of course, we can't forget the Star Wars movies, were Jedi masters had apprentices....but that is an entirely different time frame. :) 
    Today, apprenticeships still exist but are not as common. They have been replaced with paid on the job training and of course, college courses have replaced a lot too. 

    So now that you know a bit about apprenticeships, let me tell you about Felicity's Rescue Kit. The kit includes a basket filled with lavender and witch hazel. A leather pocket book, a letter from Elizabeth, a newspaper clipping, a map, and a mortar and pestle. 

    Mortars and pestles were used to crush up things such as herbs into a powder, mostly used for medicinal purposes but were also used when preparing food or even dehulling or husking grains. In the set, the mortar is heavy and silver plated, The pestle is made of wood.

 Witch hazel is commonly used to put on cuts, scrapes, and bruises. It works as an astringent.Lavender is used for many things such a sleep aid, a treatment for bug bites, and also great aromatherapy

The newspaper clipping warning of Ben's disappearance.  

Sorry so blurry! Letter from Elizabeth to Felicity

     I really hope you learned something new and enjoyed this post! Any feedback is welcomed! I will have some more posts coming soon! And since I am getting so close to completing my Felicity collection (YAY!) I am starting to collect more stuff from Samantha, Kit, Addy, and Rebecca's world so I am exciting to write more about these girls VERY soon!
    I am also excited to say that I will be adding Mary-Ellen Larkin to my collection upon her release this month. So get ready to learn new things about 1954!  

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