Strike Gold with Ancient Silver

Ancient coins are more than just currency; their beauty and historical significance often outlast their monetary value. Take, for instance, this silver tetradrachm from the reign of Ptolemy VIII (145-116 BC), King of Egypt and son of Cleopatra I. This coin, featuring the king’s profile on one side and an eagle on the reverse, has been transformed into a swivel brooch, showcasing its intricate designs as wearable art. Notably, the eagle side bears strike marks, evidence that the coin was tested for its silver content in antiquity. These marks, ironically, preserved the coin by deeming it of lower value, making it perfect for jewelry. This unique piece illustrates how historical artifacts can find new life and appreciation through their aesthetic appeal.

A Medal Sew Rare

Queen Mary’s Needlework Guild played a crucial role in WWI, providing essential garments and supplies to soldiers. Among their contributions was the Rose and Monogram War Service Medal, typically featuring a smaller Q.M.N.G. enamel hanger. This medal symbolizes the immense efforts of volunteers during the war.

While the standard Rose and Monogram War Service Medal is common, the dated war service bars are much rarer. These bars were awarded for specific periods of service. The Surgical Branch bar is the rarest, making it a prized possession for any collector.

Early postcards of a young Queen Mary add to the allure of these medals. Mary was famously known during WWI for the Christmas tin she arranged for every serviceman. These postcards offer a personal glimpse into the era and the woman behind these significant wartime contributions.

For collectors, the thrill of discovering history is unparalleled. Charing Cross Market offers a treasure trove of such items. Whether you’re a seasoned collector or just starting, the market is a must-visit destination. You might walk away with a rare war service medal or a cherished postcard of Queen Mary herself.

Join us at Charing Cross Market and uncover the hidden stories of the past. Happy collecting!

Two postcards from 1901

Photographs in the early 1900s were often printed with a postcard reverse so they could easily be sent by mail. This one features a poignant portrait of an elderly woman, evidently named Belinda Woods, dressed in a practical and worn outfit, suitable for outdoor work. She stands against a backdrop of dense foliage, holding a wicker basket and a walking stick, presenting an image of resilience and a life of labor.

On the reverse of the postcard, a handwritten message addressed to Mr. M Shaw c/o Mr. Doyle’s East End, Oxford reads: “My dear nephew just a line to ask you if you have got your stockings yet? I not should like to know no more this time, from aunt.”

The other card, also from 1901, shows the Shire Hall & Institute in Worcester. Although cards like this have topographical value, they are much less likely to be one offs like the one of Belinda Woods.

Octopus Arms & Explosive Charges

In the world of military memorabilia, the discovery of unique items often leads to fascinating historical insights. Such is the case with a recent find: a pair of British-made cloth insignia, beautifully crafted with silk detailing on cotton felt, and dating back to the World War II era. The use of silk, a material that provides durability and vibrant color retention, is particularly suited for insignia that would be exposed to harsh conditions or needed to be easily recognizable. They feature a six-legged squid or octopus whose tentacles form the letters “SO” representing a small, specialized unit of Italian torpedo and mine divers, known as “sommozzatori.”

The intriguing design of these patches includes a chained sea mine and hammer above the creature, symbols typically associated with torpedo and mine workers in the Italian Navy. This detail was crucial in identifying the insignia’s purpose and origin. These elements are not merely decorative; they signify the skilled and dangerous work undertaken by these divers during the war, particularly against British naval forces.

Made during a period between 1943 and 1945, these patches likely served an educational purpose for the British forces. Following several successful attacks on British shipping by a small group of six Italian torpedo divers, there was an evident need to understand and possibly replicate the techniques and strategies employed by this formidable unit. The creation of these patches in Britain suggests a deep level of intrigue and respect for the specialized skills of the Italian divers.

These rare formation signs are not commonly seen and represent a unique chapter in the shared history of British and Italian military operations during WWII. They underscore the complexities of wartime strategy and the lengths to which nations went to study and learn from each other.