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Ten top treasures

We have got millions of treasures in our collections. In no particular order, here are just ten treasures, picked for you!

1. And When Did You Last See Your Father?

Painting of When Did You Last See Your Father?

And When Did You Last See Your Father? by William Frederick Yeames has been probably the most popular painting in the Walker Art Gallery since it was bought in 1878.

The painting portrays a fictional event in the English Civil War when Parliamentary Roundheads fought the King's Cavaliers. It shows a Royalist house occupied by the Roundheads interrogating the family.

The boy's crying sister is held gently by a soldier while his mother looks on dreading what the boy will say. Will he tell all?

Yeames' niece and nephew modelled as the children. The painting has been lampooned and imitated countless times. Find out more about this painting in the Walker Art Gallery.

2. Rameses Girdle

One of the great treasures of World Museum's Ancient Egypt gallery, is the vividly-coloured belt of the last great Pharaoh, Rameses III.

Dating from 1180 BC, this is an incredibly woven linen belt know as the 'Rameses Girdle'. At 5.2 metres long, the monarch probably wore it in battle while riding his chariot, wrapped several times around the waist as part of his military uniform.
The design consists of stripes, zig-zags, dots and rows of ankh-signs in coloured linen. The band was probably woven on a simple loom, and it has been estimated that it would have taken approximately three to four months to complete.

This is a unique survival from the ancient world. Find out more about the Ancient Egypt gallery at World Museum here.

3. Titanic lifejacket

Lifejacket from the Titanic

A lifejacket from the most famous ship of all time can be seen at Merseyside Maritime Museum. This lifejacket was worn by an unknown Titanic survivor who was rescued by the Cunard liner Carpathia. The tapes at the sides were probably cut when the jacket was removed from the survivor.

It was a gift of Mr Ernest St Clair of Liverpool, who was a 19-year old waiter on Carpathia during the rescue of Titanic survivors. This was one of the featured objects in the BBC 'A History of the World' season.

Find out more about the lifejacket and other objects in the Titanic collection of Merseyside Maritime Museum.

4. Surf boat

Ghana surf boat

This surf boat was built in Accra in 1957. It was raced in a regatta as part of Ghana's Independence festivities. The local racing crew, representing the Liverpool-based Elder Dempster Shipping Line, finished in second place, and they presented the boat to the Merseyside Maritime Museum later that year.

This surf boat is a smaller version of the ones used to land cargoes from ships along the West African coast. Due to the lack of port facilities in Ghana, cargo could not be directly loaded onto a quayside as it could at a port like Liverpool. Goods had to be carried by boat to and from ships anchored offshore and landed on local beaches.

Handling these boats in the breaking waves of the beaches was difficult work and their crews - drawn from the Fante communities of southern Ghana - were highly skilled. Find out more about the surf boat and other boats in our boat collection at the Merseyside Maritime Museum.

5. Lion locomotive

The lion locomotive arriving at Museum of Liverpool

Built in 1837 just seven years after the opening of the Liverpool to Manchester Railway, Lion is one of the world's best-preserved early steam locomotives.

Lion hauled luggage trains between the two cities for more than 20 years before being sold to the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board in 1859. She worked as a stationary pumping engine at Princes Dock before being presented to the Liverpool Engineering Society in 1928.

After restoration at Crewe, Lion took part in the centenary celebrations of the Liverpool- Manchester Railway in 1930.

Lion achieved film immortality as star of the Ealing comedy The Titfield Thunderbolt in 1952. Her latest starring role is as the main attraction in The Great Port gallery at the Museum of Liverpool. Find out more about Lion and other objects in our land transport collection.

6. Salammbo


This stunning life-sized marble and bronze statue was created by French sculptor Maurice Ferrary in 1899, the year before William Hesketh Lever bought it for his collections.

Inspired by Flaubert's great historical novel of the same name, it portrays Salammbo entwined with a huge snake.

The novel tells of the incident in the 3rd century BC wars between the Carthagians and the barbarians. A sacred veil was taken by the barbarians, leading to the defeat of the Carthagians.

Salammbo, daughter of the Carthagian leader, was given sacred protection by the snake and was able to successfully retrieve the veil. Find out more about Salammbo and other sculptures in the Lady Lever Art Gallery.

7. Indian ground beetle

Indian ground beetle

World Museum is home to the first Indian ground beetle to be bred in captivity, something never managed anywhere else in the world.

Staff at the museum bug house acquired eight Indian ground beetles (Anthia sexguttata) in February 2009 with the intention of breeding them, something never successfully achieved by anyone else. Unfortunately seven of the beetles died leaving only one female left who staff believed wouldn't survive for very long.

However on 16 August 2010 staff were surprised to see a young adult male in the tank with the female. It seems the female beetle left had produced eggs which had been burrowed away where museum staff couldn't see them!

8. The Decameron

The Decameron painting by Waterhouse

The Decameron, by John William Waterhouse, 1916, was shown in a blockbuster exhibition at the Royal; Academy 'J.W. Waterhouse: A Modern Pre-Raphaelite'.

It was originally bought from the artist by Lord Leverhulme in 1916, soon after the painting was finished. Now it is in the collection of the Lady Lever Art Gallery.

It is inspired by the Decameron, a 14th century Italian collection of risqué stories. The lute player is telling one of the Decameron's stories to a group on young women. Find out more about the Decameron.

9. Child-sized post box

Child-sized postbox

This child-sized post box was specially made for the children at Fazakerley Children's Home to post their letters and cards. The Children's Home, or Cottage Homes as they were known, opened in 1889 and had 21 separate cottages for 584 children. On the site there were also schools, a swimming pool, farm buildings and gardens. When the Home closed in 1964 the special post box was rescued by a member of the Post Office staff.

When a new owner was advertised for, so many requests were received from children's homes across Merseyside that the fairest answer was to donate it to National Museums Liverpool for everyone to enjoy. The children however were not left disappointed as replicas of the post box were made, filled with sweets and delivered to the various homes. It is now on display in the Museum of Liverpool. Find out more about the post box.

10. Ford Anglia Saloon

Ford Anglia

© Pete Carr

This Ford Anglia 1905E Saloon was the first car to be produced at Ford's new factory at Halewood, Liverpool, in 1963. Before completion, it was featured as the prize in a competition in the Liverpool Echo which was won by a Mr Taylor. The car was driven off the production line by the Lord Mayor of Liverpool on 8 March 1963 and was handed over to its new owner with a special registration: 1KF.

Mr Taylor was a non-driver and sold the car on. Ford bought the car and donated it to Liverpool City Museum. The Anglia would have cost around £514 to buy in 1963.

The Anglia is now on display in the Museum of Liverpool. Find out more about the Ford Anglia and other items in our land transport collection.