THE silver casket presented to Peter Pan creator JM Barrie when he was given the freedom of his home town went on public display today for the first time in 75 years.
The author of one of the world’s best-loved children’s stories was presented with the lavishly engraved casket when he was granted the Freedom of the Angus town of Kirriemuir in 1930.
Barrie, whio was born in the market town in 1860, described the casket as the “heart of Kirriemuir” when he received the Freedom of the town from the Provost, Magistrates and Council seven years before his death.
The unique casket was subsequently sold for £56 when the contents of Barrie’s London home went under the hammer at a Sotheby’ sale in in 1938.
Earlier this year Angus Council, with the supprt of the Art Fund and the National Fund for Acquisitions, became the new owners of the casket after buying the silver box, together with the original Burgess Ticket conferring Barrie’s Freedom of Kirriemuir, for £7200 at a sale at an auction house in Somerset.
And today it went on public display again in Kirriemuir in the local museum.
Councillor Jeanette Gaul, the council’s museums’ spokeswoman, said: “The casket has been in a private collection since 1938, so I’m delighted that we were successful with its purchase at the first opportunity we had. I’m delighted that the casket has returned home.”
She added: “The casket will be on display at Kirriemuir Museum for the public to enjoy. The museum also holds a significant amount of material relating to Sir JM Barrie, including the pen with which he signed the freedom documents.”
The casket was made by silversmiths Brook and Son of George Street Edinburgh. The sides of the casket are decorated with images of sites in Kirriemuir which held particular memories or significance for Barrie.
They include Kirriemuir Townhouse where the museum is housed, the cottage where he lived which is now in the care of the National Trust for Scotland, the statue of Peter Pan in Hyde Park, and the Barrie Pavilion on Kirriemuir Hill which now serves as a cricket pavilion.
A hinged cover, flanked by Celtic knots, reads: “Presented By The Provost, Magistrates and Councillors of The Burgh of Kirriemuir, along with the Burgess Ticket Conferring The Freedom of The Burgh of Barony And Regality of Kirriemuir on Sir James Matthew Barrie Baronet, O.M., 7th June 1930, Henry Ernest Peacock Esquire, Provost.”