Japh Mason & the Ransome & Marles “Potato Cup”

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'The Ransome & Marles This magnificent silver cup was awarded during the First World War in recognition of excellence in vegetable production on the Home Front. The Newark Agricultural Committee was set up to encourage local food production as new land – gardens and allotments – were pressed into production to help reduce Britain’s reliance on food imports.

Two silver cups, valued at £25 each, were given by Mr Japh Mason of Ransome & Marles.  (For Mr Mason’s connection with this company, please see below)

 The first – photographed here – was to be given for the best crop of potatoes at a show orgainsed by the Mayor, Mr J.C. Kew, and a committee of local gardeners.

The inscription reads:-

“Newark Potato Scheme

The Mason Cup presented by Japh Mason Esq

of Messrs Ransome & Marles and Co Ltd.

For the best yield secured from the seed potatoes issued under the scheme September 1917

Won by Frank Smith”

The whereabouts of the second cup is unknown.


Who Was Japh Mason (1868 – 1945)?

Japh John Mason was born, according to the 1901 census record, in 1868 in Boston, Lincolnshire. An entry in the birth index has not been found, nor has any record of a baptism*.

 His father was Amaziah Bazlinton Mason (1881 census) and in this census Amaziah’s wife is recorded as Lucy. However no marriage has been found for this couple.

There is a marriage in 1858 between Amaziah Baylinton Mason and Henrietta Burton.

There is a death for a Henrietta Mason in Bourne, Lincolnshire in 1861 but this may or may not be the wife.

 In the 1901 census Japh Mason was recorded as a director of a cycle accessory company. He was living with at 107 Harcourt Avenue, East Ham, Essex with his wife Charlotte Fanny Bontoft (marriage 1891) and their children May, Marjorie Mabel and Japh Alexander Oxenford.

In 1902 a Japh John Mason is awarded a patent in the UK (No. 18,354) ‘For Improvements relating to sights for Rifles and other Fire Arms’ (Published by HMSO, 1902).

In 1908 Mr Japh Mason, as sales representative for the Hoffmann Manufacturing Co. Ltd. of Chelmsford in Essex, was at the Stanley Cycle and Motor Car show in London (Stand 181), where he is quoted as speaking to a reporter from ‘The Cycle & Motor Trades Review’ about how the Hoffmann company “make steel balls at the rate of 50,000 an hour for 24 hours every day, except Sundays”.

Just one year later, however, the 19th August 1909 edition of ‘The Commercial Motor’ informs us that “Mr. Japh Mason, who has been [Hoffmann’s] sole business representative in the United Kingdom…. during the last six years, has tendered his resignation, which has been accepted with regret”.

We Cannot (at present) trace all Japh Mason’s movements following his resignation from Hoffmann’s, but in the 1911 census, he was living at 59 Devere Gardens, Ilford, Essex and his occupation is given as manager of a motor sport company.

Later, his connection with bearing manufacture at Hoffmann’s came to the fore when, in February 1917, he was appointed ‘Director of Companies’ at Newark-based bearing and wood-working machinery factory of messrs. Ransome & Marles **.  Hoffmann bearings had long been used in the woodworking machinery manufactured by Ransomes (before they developed their own), so it could be that Japh Mason’s previous connections with Hoffmann’s made him an ideal candidate to join the Board of the Newark firm.

In any event, it will be noted that the ‘Potato Cup’ which bears his name was presented in September 1917 – just 6 months after Japh Mason’s appointment as a Director.

Japh Mason died in 1945 in Surrey

 Japh does not appear to be an abbreviation. There is one reference in the 1881 census to him as Japheth but this does not appear again either for Japh John or his son.  No other records were found using Japheth instead of Japh

* Biographical information about Japh Mason has been kindly contributed by Jenny Campbell

** Company information relating Ransome & Marles’ bearings is taken from the book ‘NSK-RHP 1900 – 2000’ by Ron Wood, published by the company in 2000 to celebrate their 100th year of production in Newark