Thursday, 15 November 2012

Nesting Boxes for Birds by Joseph King

There is reasonably freely available writing on the Peasant Arts movement by Godfrey Blount, Ethel Blount, Greville McDonald and Maude Egerton King.  There is little by Joseph King.  The only Peasant Arts Society published pamphlet by Joseph King is Nesting Boxes for Birds, a surprising subject for a politician.

Nesting Boxes for Birds, Joseph King,
The Gallery of Handicraft

The book was published by The Peasant Arts Society, from their 8 Queen's Road, London address and The Gallery of Handicraft, Kings Road, Haslemere.  I do not think I have come across the name 'The Gallery of Handicraft' before, another company of the Peasant Arts movement.  It is clear that Joseph King was a bird lover.  The illustrations of the book differ in style from Godfrey Blount's drawings, I wonder whether Joseph King illustrated his own book?

The Peasant Arts Society, 8 Queens Road, London and
The Gallery of Handicrafts, Kings Road, Haslemere

extract from Nesting Boxes for Birds,
Joseph King

King seems keen to link the subject of nesting boxes to legislation, beginning the book by saying "All men love the wild birds.  To hear their chirp or listen to their song, and to watch their manners or their habits make up a distinct joy in life.  Even Parliament has recognised this, and has passed laws that the wild birds may be protected and preserved.  It has been made punishable to take the eggs or the young, or to kill the old birds within certain periods, which are generally the breeding seasons.  County Councils and other authorities spend a great deal of trouble to enforce these laws.  But why are such efforts made to preserve and protect the wild birds?"

illustration from
Nesting Boxes for Birds, Joseph King
King illustrates numerous nesting boxes and suggests they are used for:

"A  A hollowed-out trunk, to be bound firmly under the branch of an oak or other large tree with horizontal branches.  ....

B A box with large aperture for flycatchers.  ....

C  Redstart box (German type).....

D  Flycatcher shelf, to be placed in recess of a window or in a corner under a low eave, to be hung on nails....

E  Basket-work nesting place, hung against wall close under eaves....for pigeons, or less smaller birds.  (In use in the Perigord district of France.)

F  Tubular entrance for a tit's box...."

Presumably redstarts and flycatchers were common in Haslemere at the time of writing this book.  It is likely that nesting boxes were made and hung in Foundry Meadow.

King concludes the book with an interesting suggestion:

"A Possible New Industry

A rural industry might well be started and maintained in these useful and pretty bird boxes.  Though there are in Germany regular manufacturers who turn out hundreds of nesting boxes every season, at reasonable prices, and in a variety of sizes, shapes, and materials, yet in England, so far as is known, there is no maker of nesting boxes to whom any one can apply for what could, with advantage and profit, become a recognised saleable article.  Here is an opening for an enterprising worker!

Where to Buy Nesting Boxes

At the Peasant Arts Society, 8 Queen's Road, Bayswater, W., and at the Handicraft Gallery, Foundry Road, Haslemere, Surrey, nesting boxes for tits or starlings, price 2s. each may be obtained.  But there is no regular English maker (so far as the writer knows) who produces a regular supply of various models, such as are produced by not a few makers in Germany.

Literature on the Subject

...A leaflet on the subject (2d. per dozen; 1s. 3d. per 100), written by the writer of this pamphlet, may be obtained from the Society for the Protection of Birds, 3, Hanover Square, London, W."

illustration from
Nesting Boxes for Birds,
Joseph King
In 1906 Joseph King is quoted in the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Birds notes and news (29 September, 1906) in relation to the front page article on nesting boxes which begins "The popularity of nesting boxes for wild birds - long in favour in Germany and Switzerland - has so greatly increased in our country in the last year or two, and the difficulty in obtaining suitable boxes appears to be felt by so many persons who would like to encourage birds to nest in their woods and gardens, that the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has established a central depot in London, near Tower Bridge, where boxes of various patterns will be stocked".  King is referred to in the advice that "They should be kept out of the reach of cats, and Mr Joseph King recommends a bit of thorny branch tied near the entrance to keep off intruders."

Bird Notes and News,
March 1906-December 1907
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

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