The Tidy Collector

VaughansRichard Vaughan of Lower Hutt has spent the past 21 years amassing an amazing collection of glazing tools, documents, putty tins, and other items associated with the glass & glazing industry.

Having been in the industry himself for 41 years, Richard completed his apprenticeship under R & E Tingeys and worked for various companies until taking redundancy from Smith & Smith in the 1990s. He then began his own glazing business – R & T Glass. Richard’s son Taylor followed his father into the industry and is now about to complete his own apprenticeship and become fully qualified. He hopes to take over the business one day along with his father’s collection of industry memorabilia.

“About 20 years ago a fellow who must have been in his 70s or 80s walked into the workplace one day and he was carrying a box of old mirror fittings and glass cutters that had belonged to his father. He asked me if we were interested in keeping them. He didn’t want any money or anything, just wanted his father’s tools of trade to go to someone else who would appreciate them. First of all I thought it was just a box full of old junk but no – from that point on I was hooked,” says Richard. “This guy used to come back every week with more stuff that he could carry from home to our shop and that’s how my collection began.”

glass2Just some of Richard's tool collection

With over 800 glass cutters and more than 300 different types of putty tins, Richard’s business has now become his hobby as well. He refers to himself as a ‘tidy collector’. “There’s no such thing as a hoarder!” says Richard.

In the garage you’ll find a glass cutting table which is solid cedar. It’s an old-fashioned wind-up table that weighs over 600 kg and Richard says he had to hire a car trailer to bring it home.

In the lounge there are purpose-built display cabinets which house the collection safely and the walls are adorned with historical prints of the glass & glazing industry in action, some dating back to the 1700’s. A framed item from the historical annals of industry training can also be seen hanging in the hallway - an “Indenture of Apprenticeship” – an apprenticeship agreement dated at London on 8 February, 1868, in which the apprentice signed up to be trained by the employer and to serve him for a term of seven years.

glass3Richard scours the globe for interesting artefacts from the glass & glazing industry to add to his ever-increasing collection. Many of his weekends are spent trolling second-hand shops, online, and at auctions. “Sometimes I’ll come home with something completely different – that I never intended to pick up along the way – much to Wendy’s [his wife’s] displeasure”, says Richard. “She always asks me ‘What did you pay for that?’ – I’ll don’t think I always tell her the exact truth, but she’s usually quite satisfied with my response.”

Some of the items in Richard’s collection are extremely rare and valuable and he sees himself as a sort of custodian – to ensure that the ways and methods used in the past can still be passed on to current and future workers. Richard says, “Although technology evolves and therefore so do the methods and tools we use, it’s still really interesting to know what used to happen in the workplace in years gone by and to keep that knowledge and associated items preserved so they’re not lost for future generations.”

Richard welcomes enquiries from anyone else in the industry who has an interest in his collection. He can be contacted on 027 289 1048.

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