WWI ‘Silks’ – Affordable Antiques

All collections begin with a single acquisition. That first purchase might only cost a few pounds but it will be remembered forever by its owner, much like the original recipient of this Great War ‘silk’. Hand made by French and Belgian women and sold to members of the British Army wanting to send a special postcard home, these were enormously popular. Many are in excellent condition on account of being treasured by anxious relatives. Some, no doubt, were the last such message they received.  

In recent years, considerable doubt has been cast on the somewhat sentimental idea that these heirlooms were in fact the product of a female cottage industry. Recent research seems to suggest that the high numbers produced must have involved machine looms
https://trc-leiden.nl/trc-digital-exhibition/index.php/silk-embroidered-postcards/item/91-who-made-them However, this does nothing to diminish the emotional value of what they must have meant to both sender and recipient over 100 years ago.

Designs usually involve patriotic or sentimental messages sewn around flags, flowers or regimental colours but most are very affordable and an easy way to begin a fascinating collection. Whether it’s stamps, coins, militaria, ephemera or other antiques, you’re sure to find something which will excite your interest at Charing Cross Collectors Market – every Saturday, 7am – 3pm.  

A Parting Gift from Dear Old England

Dating from the mid-nineteenth century, these buttons form part of the uniform worn by prisoners sentenced to transportation to Australia or Tasmania. The buttons and uniform remained property of the Crown but one can only imagine how rigorously that was observed on the other side of the world. In any case, new arrivals quickly found that they could be used as currency in their own right since buttons made in the colony were very plain in comparison. The smaller button sewn onto the black silk rosette formed part of a bicorn hat and the uniform as a whole was cleverly designed to allow prisoners to get dressed and undressed while still bound in chains joined at the wrist and ankle.