Kings of Sling – Part II

Back in April we posted details of a multi-purpose sling/bandage/tourniquet produced by the St John’s Ambulance Association in the early 1900’s. This is a slightly later version dating from the First World War. While it may at first glance seem identical, there is one key difference: our mustachioed Edwardian gent is now clean shaven.

This was a sad consequence of what one historian described as a definition of progress: with each new war they find a new way of killing you. Poison gas had proved to be one such invention. As gas masks were developed to counter this weapon, the need for an airtight seal was paramount for them to work. So the British Army – which had actually made moustaches compulsory for the previous 56 years – at last dropped the regulation in 1916.

Right Royal Stamp of Approval

While the four day event – widely referred to on social media as (I kid you not) ‘platty joobs’ – is now at an end, it’s back to business as usual for us all. But just in case you want a souvenir so official it bears the image of HM Queen herself, Royal Mail have you covered.

Still available at their online shop is this commemorative set of 8 stamps depicting her at various points in her record breaking 70 year reign. From her tour of the US in 1957 to her tour of MI5 in 2020, they are a fitting tribute to her active role as the nation’s monarch and a much better souvenir of her Platinum Jubilee than some of the tat we’ve seen hawked about (take a bow Aldi’s Kevin the Carrot Queen Jubilee Soft Toy Set….)

Congratulations to Her Majesty!

There is sure to be a wonderful atmosphere in central London this Saturday as the nation celebrates the Queen’s 70th year as our monarch. We’re not far from all the action at Horse Guards Parade and the Mall so why not drop by London’s best collectors market for that special historic souvenir. There’s no tourist tat at crazy prices in our market – just collectable bargains and curiosities aplenty!

London’s already buzzing – the Market will be too!

Someone’s going to need a bigger pocket

The Royal Mint has been commissioned by a private collector to make a unique coin commemorating Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. It is the largest coin produced by the Royal Mint in its 1,100 year history. But with a weight of 15 kilos and a face value of £15,000, it’s unlikely you’ll see it in your change at the newsagents.

It took 400 hours to make and it’s very hard to put a figure on its real value because there is simply nothing else like it. The front depicts the royal insignia surrounded by symbols of the four home nations while the reverse shows the queen on horseback.

Brothers In Arms

These two German soldiers, photographed here in the Aisne departement of France in April 1918, may not actually be related. However, like the photograph featured last week, it was common practice to immortalise the moment when family members became part of the same unit.

The older of the two, on the right, is certainly more experienced and we can see the ribbon from an iron cross second class in his button hole. His tunic seems to be a bit too big for him and may well have something to do with the limited food rations which the Germans experienced in the latter half of the war. Both men are seen clasping their belts which sport the ‘Gott Mit Uns’ (God With Us) motto on their buckle.

The younger soldier looks like he is a more recent arrival at the front. His almost comically oversized boots also hint at the supply problems which bedevilled the army by 1918. His cap features roundels of national and state colours is completely unshaped by wear and the fact that he isn’t wearing gaiters suggests that he has not had the dubious pleasure of actually serving in the trenches yet. It’s also noteworthy that his tunic has fewer buttons since metal was in terribly short supply by this point.

What both do have in common is the bayonet hanging from their belts. These were normally pushed away from the side to the back of the hip to stop them knocking into things so we can see that the new recruit has at least picked up one trick from the veterans.

A Moment’s Peace

Bought at the Market last week is this evocative photograph of two British ‘tommies’ during the Great War. Bought by a fellow dealer, Michael Burroughs of Anything Military, he was also kind enough to give us his informed view of what we can learn from this century old primary source.

The ‘Carte Postale’ on the reverse tells us it was taken in a French studio with standard props of a chair, backdrop and unlit cigarette. It’s possible that the two are related, even brothers, and the fact that their uniform pockets are bulging and that they have uncleaned boots might well mean that the pair were taking advantage of a break from the front line when this was taken. Also significant perhaps: neither of them are smiling.

The characteristic snake belt both men are wearing was part of the 1914 leather pattern equipment issued to early Territorial’s and Kitchener battalions. The standing soldier’s cap bears the badge of the Ulster Rifles along with pioneer collar badges of crossed pick and rifle. It’s therefore most likely that he was a member of the regiment’s 16th (Service) Battalion (2nd County Down) (Pioneers). They landed at Boulogne-sur-Mer as pioneer battalion for the 36th (Ulster) Division in October 1915 for service on the Western Front.

His seated companion is wearing a cap badge of the Finsbury Rifles along with the typical black buttons of a rifle regiment. An educated guess would be that he quite probably belonged to the 2/11th battalion  of that unit which moved to France in February 1917 where they served on the western front for the duration of the war.

Next week, we’ll have a look at a similar photograph from the Great War, also taken in France but featuring two soldiers from the other side of No Mans’ Lead.

Cute as a Button

Not one but two famous names at the market recently.

Meet Jenson Button, a 14 week old Cockapoo who visited the market recently along with his owner, Russell Grant. Although neither of them has won the 2009 World Formula One Championship or appeared on Strictly, what we do know is that one of them was here because of his interest in collecting Boy Scout memorobilia. Russell is probably more of stamp buff.

The market has always been proud to welcome enthusiasts of all kinds, even if they have double the number of legs we might usually expect. Indeed, possibly the most prestigious position in London – after the PM – is that of Market Dog. That role is currently filled by Dougal but his predecessors (Bart, Headley, Charlie and Matty) were equally adept at wandering round looking for biscuits and a scratch behind the ears.

Kings of Sling

The classic cloth triangle to immobilise or elevate an injured limb has been a staple of first aid for centuries. Arguably though, no organisation better demonstrated its versatility than the Saint John’s Ambulance Association.

Michael Burroughs of Anything Military has recently obtained this model of medical efficiency from the early 1900’s. Showing two dozen practical applications from tourniquets to splint braces, the illustrations are so clear and easily understood they could have been drawn up by IKEA.

Business As (Un)usual

After our week off last Saturday, we’re back!

Curious browsers, experienced dealers and committed collectors alike can be found every Saturday at Charing Cross Market. Rare postcards, stamps, coins and militaria abound in a unique indoor location at the heart of Central London. Come and see what makes the market one of the Capital’s best kept secrets – because everybody knows all the best treasure is kept underground…