Recently I inherited a metal swan betel nut holder with a mechanical music engine. This swan is a source of very happy childhood memories. It was the early 60’s; At that time, I was just a small kid. I loved visiting my grand parents. Being the first grand child, I received immense affection and attention from my grand parents. My grandmother was very patient, calm and had a zen like presence. My grand parents were among the fortunate few refugees who survived the trek from Burma when the Japanese invaded Burma in 1942.
In my grandmother’s balcony, I recollect looking into a wooden chest that contained my grandmother’s awards from her school for various achievements. From the chest, I remember picking up an illustrated hard copy of “Gulliver’s travels”. Reading the book gave me the first experience of using my imagination to immerse myself in the story. I read the book many times with undiminished enthusiasm.
Also in the chest was a violin. At one time, my grandmother used to play the violin. Unfortunately, I borrowed it later in my teens and destroyed it due to my own carelessness. Well. I think I digress. Now back to the Swan.
My grandmother had a daily routine. After lunch she would sit in the living room floor with the swan in front of her. The inner compartment of the swan had cavities for storing the ingredients to make “Paan”. These ingredients were betel nut, lime, Betel leaves and clove. To access this compartment.you had turn the swan’s neck and lift the wings.
As you can see in the next picture, there is a cavity below this level. The betel leaves were stored below this level. She would make sure to have 25 to 30 freshly washed betel leaves stored in the chamber. And as if on cue, without any invitation, her friends would troop in one by one. It was their daily routine after lunch. They would all sit around the swan and launch into gossip and discussions about what they made for lunch. This was the spot where they discussed the movies and decided which show they would attend and who would buy the tickets.
I recollect hanging around and trying to play with the swan. The swan had a key at the bottom that could wind up a musical mechanism. I found it fascinating and always wanted to wind up the mechanism. Thanks to my tactful grandmother, she saved the mechanism from being destroyed. Last week my uncle graciously gave me the swan knowing how much I adored it as a child. I bought it home and polished it to a good degree of shine. The swan is now on top a dresser in my landing and every time I pass by, it warms my heart with memories of my dear grandmother.
I decided to do some research online to find out more about the origins of the swan. I used the patent number on the bottom of the swan to search patent databases. The registered patent was found but the information was incomplete. I was only able to confirm that the patent was registered in 1954.
There are a few more clues that I plan to investigate further. On the bottom surface, there is a logo that reads FB. There is also a registered design number.
Hopefully, I would be able to find who manufactured it and any other interesting information. I can then use my imagination to come up with a story about how it happened to end up with my grandmother.