Iris’s Pledge

Reminiscent of the illustrative style of Janet and John reading books, this Band of Hope Pledge offers a fascinating window into the temperance movement of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Established in 1847 in Leeds, England, the Band of Hope aimed to instill a sense of responsibility and abstinence from alcohol in children. This pledge card, adorned with vibrant illustrations and moral vignettes, is a testament to those efforts.

The card features central figures of a boy and girl, symbolizing the youth who committed to the cause. Surrounding them are emblems of health, happiness, prosperity, chivalry, and Christian living—each an ideal benefit of temperance. The promise, boldly printed, reads: “Because I want to be my best in every way, I PROMISE, by God’s help, never to take Alcoholic Drinks.”

Such artifacts are not only collectible but also serve as historical documents of past social movements. They highlight the values and societal goals of their time, offering a real connection to the history of public health and moral education campaigns. Items like this are invaluable for their cultural and historical significance, offering insights into the efforts to shape youth behavior and promote temperance.

Hospital Blues

This intriguing World War I photographic postcard offers a unique glimpse into a soldier’s recovery period. Featuring a young man named Cliff in his hospital blues, this postcard is not just a personal memento but a piece of historical storytelling. Cliff is depicted wearing the distinctive blue uniform of a wounded soldier during the Great War.

The postcard’s studio, identified as “Old Compton Street” in London, was a well-known photography studio from the early 20th century. Here, the photographer, possibly George, has carefully hand-painted the military medal ribbon on Cliff’s uniform. This ribbon represents the Military Medal (MM), awarded for bravery in the field, though Cliff’s specific act of heroism remains a mystery.

Interestingly, Old Compton Street was also home to a famed straw hat workshop during the war, where Cliff might have found work during his recovery. This collectible postcard, signed in pencil and with historical context, offers a fascinating window into the life of a soldier during a pivotal time in history.

Authentication: no room for winging it

Collecting military badges is a passion that demands vigilance and expertise. A single mistake—such as buying a fake—can tarnish a hard-earned reputation built over decades. This is particularly crucial for highly coveted items like early parachute wings, which can fetch over £200, and the even more sought-after SAS and Glider Pilot wings, often valued at over £1000.

Despite the prevalence of fakes, authentic pieces can still be found at reasonable prices. A stunning example is the 1st Pattern Parachute Jump Wing recently acquired from a collector. The badge came with a well-worn beret badge, and the seller mentioned he’d owned it for years. Intriguingly, this badge showcased unique characteristics: a greener hue and a wider weave, indicating it was crafted from original Canadian battle dress material—a telltale sign distinguishing it from British-made versions.

For collectors, these details matter. They not only verify authenticity but also enrich the story behind each piece.