The artifacts on display at Banting House National Historic Site of Canada make up only part of the museum’s collection. Sometimes artifacts are too fragile to be on display for long periods of time and there is just not enough space in the museum to display everything at once. Over the last few weeks I’ve been taking a closer look at some of the objects and archives that are currently in storage at Banting House, including a number of Level 1 artifacts. These artifacts are especially important to the museum because they are directly related to Sir Frederick Banting and the site’s national historic significance. This means that they have to be preserved very carefully so that they can still be studied or displayed in the future.
To help preserve these artifacts, we are separating them from the other archival material in the collection so that they are easy to locate if there was ever an emergency. The Level 1 artifacts should be the first things that are removed from the museum if there was ever an emergency, and so it makes sense to have them set aside. One of these records is Dr. Banting’s business card from his practice here in London. It would have been printed in 1920 after Banting had decided to move to London and open his own office. The card is quite plain, which reflects Banting’s financial situation at the time. He was not particularly successful at getting patients in the door when he first came to London, and so probably could not afford a more detailed design. That being said, the information on the card provides all of the necessary details that patients would have needed to get in touch with Banting.
This is a neat piece of history because it ties Dr. Banting to the house through the address on the card as well as gives us some insight into what his practice would have looked like. It states his office hours and contact information, which gives us a sense of how his day could have been structured. It struck me how odd his office hours seemed to be: 1-3 pm and 7-8 pm. This probably reflected that more people were likely able to get to a doctor’s during the afternoon and after the workday was through.
Banting’s business card is a good example of an artifact that has a lot of significance attached to it, even if it is not the most impressive artifact to look at in the collection. Sometimes small items that are easily overlooked are still very valuable because of the context they give to significant people or events. Part of the fun of working at Banting House has been getting to take a look at items like the business card that aren’t visible on a tour of the museum. Artifacts like this may not be on display, but they still contribute to the messages of the site and strengthen the collection.
This post was written by Taryn Dewar, Graduate Research Assistant at Banting House NHSC. Taryn is a Master’s candidate in Public History at Western University.