The Stephens Collection

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My sister and I caught the no. 82 bus from Victoria to Finchley to visit this little museum today. It is housed in the Conservatory of Avenue House and is a fantastic little exhibition – one room containing all manner of exhibits, and information and history about writing materials from ancient times up to the invention of the biro in the 1940s.

We read about Dr Henry Charles Stephens who invented the famous blue-black ink and his son "Inky" Stephens who was MP for Hornsey and Finchley and JP in Finchley. There was plenty of information to look at about the family itself and so much fascinating memorabilia, such as pens, quills, bottles of ink and different styles of inkwells. It certainly got us reminiscing about our school days when we were ink monitors.

I was amazed to learn that before Mr Stephens invented his ink, the writing liquid used was made from rain water or claret wine or red wine mixed with ferrous sulphate, gum and oak galls!

Avenue House was bequeathed to the people of Finchley in 1918 by Henry "Inky" Stephens and the landscaped grounds with many rare trees are free to wander round. The little museum is free too, but only open on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons 2 – 4.30pm,

An excellent find and well worth a visit.

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