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.

Starting them young

Like this young family, many passers by find us by happy accident and are always amazed by the variety and interest of what our dealers have on offer. No doubt these two budding collectors pestered their parents to visit the market before passing out with exhaustion when faced with so many collectable coins, stamps, postcards, antiques and military items. See you again soon!

A British Cultural Icon and a Design Classic

The world’s first adhesive postage stamp is probably also the most recognised anywhere in the world. Featuring a profile of queen Victoria in 1840 when she was just 20, this image remained the same until her death aged 81. Edges often appear lopsided as they were printed in a sheet and cut up by hand and the red franking mark proved easy to rub off so was soon replaced. Ultimately, almost 70 million Penny Blacks were printed but their considerable age means only limited number survive. To answer the obvious question, mint ones go for upwards of £3,000 but you can usually add a used one to your collection for about £100. And, yes, you can usually source one at Charing Cross Collectors Market every Saturday.

Wish you were there?

The Edwardian splendour of classic rail travel is recalled in this rare mint condition promotional postcard for the Great Central Railway (1897-1922). The company would later form part of the much larger London and North Eastern Railway. Today it survives as the UK’s only main line heritage railway (http://www.gcrailway.co.uk/)

Postcards, coins, stamps, militaria and ephemera of all sorts attract interested amateurs and discerning collectors alike every Saturday at Charing Cross Market. See you there.

Buttoned up generation who wouldn’t back down

Hand-made silk buttons are ten a penny if you know where to look – even ones that are over a hundred years old like this one.  But few are a subtle reminder of a movement which galvanised women across Britain in a bid to win the right to vote.  A Venus symbol picked out in the suffragette colours of purple, white and green, this was one Edwardian woman’s show of support for Emmeline Pankhurst’s Women’s Social and Political Union.  The more moderate suffragists fought under a different organisation and a different flag so this suggests real conviction on the part of whoever wore it.

‘Deeds not words’ was the suffragettes’ motto – chaining themselves to railings, disrupting meetings, breaking windows and, of course, most famously, Emily Davison throwing herself under the king’s horse at the Derby in 1913.  A measure of their success is that when we think of the women’s movement of the time it is images of their direct action which come to mind first rather than letters to the Times, petitions or public meetings. But all gestures play their part, even this small button – a discreet memento of a fascinating battle in the struggle for gender equality, not to mention a perfect complement to International Women’s Day 2019!

A survivor of the Great War

Somehow surviving some of the fiercest fighting on the Western Front without taking a bullet for its owner is this German cigarette case. The inscription reads “Weihnachten 1917 i/felde II/ J R 16” (Christmas in the field, 1917, 2nd company infantry regiment 16). The 16th Bavarian regiment numbered among its soldiers none other than Corporal Adolf Hitler. While serving with the regiment he won the Iron Cross first class. Although there is no name on the case, Hitler was a committed smoker during these years….

It’s incredible what our stallholders find. See what’s new this Saturday and every Saturday, 7am – 3pm.

A Victorian Valentine’s Gift

Not your typical ValentinesDay gift but all the more memorable for it…. Queen Victoria herself paid for tins of chocolate like this to be sent to the men serving in South Africa during the Boer War (1899-1902). Many soldiers kept the tins. Few managed to resist the temptation of eating the chocolate so this is an exceptional find. A much less well preserved one turned up only last year -https://www.thevintagenews.com/2018/07/10/queen-victoria-chocolates/
Just another great example of the sort of collectibles turning up at Charing Cross Market every Saturday, 7am – 3pm.