Karl Henning Covers

A market regular and wonderfully informative contributor to this blog, Michael Burroughs, has again turned up trumps with this collection of covers and postcards all addressed to the somewhat controversial German collector, Karl Henning.

An active member of the NSDAP (Nazi) party, he officially began making the covers during the Third Reich. This included the General Government covers. By war’s end, he was Post Master General on the Channel Islands and later produced official post-war commemorative covers including the Berlin airlift – an example of which is pictured here.

Taking all his, admittedly considerable, stock to the Dominican republic, it is believed that he continued trading through another company name, Casa Filatelica Antillana. Even today, members of his family are said to still trade but eyebrows have been raised in stamp collecting forums at the seemingly inexhaustible amount of stock still for sale.

This has not seriously tarnished the allure of the ‘Karl Hennig cover’ per se though. They are still much sought after – although it’s wise to consult an experienced dealer before purchasing.

The ‘Wound Stripe’

Instituted in 1916 by King George V, the ‘Wound Stripe’ denoted anyone who’d sustained an injury in wartime. It was worn (as here) on the left forearm of the tunic, fastened through the uniform cloth. Soldiers unlucky enough to sustain another injury would be granted an additional stripe. This particular soldier is a private in the Royal Berkshire Regiment.

The Ministry of Food

With the outbreak of war in 1939, the British government was (rightly) concerned about the country’s food supply.

The Ministry of Food had been established during the Great War but stood down in 1921. Renewed hostilities meant that Britain’s island status once again became both its greatest defence and a food supply issue. In 1939 only 30% of what people ate was grown domestically.

Used on all ration books and, here, on armbands like this, the MoF logo was a familiar sight during the war years. This armband would have been worn by a member of the civil defence authorities tasked with giving advice and cooking tips at large air raid shelters and refugee centres. This is a one colour print applied by silk screen with dark blue ink on a white armband. The reverse shows the classic signs of bleed through from the print.

Brown paper packages tied up with string

Still one of our favourite things and for good reason: the contents are usually quite exciting…

As was the case when Anything Militaria’s Michael Burroughs recently acquired one such package from an old nursing home. Carefully packed inside were several military issue red ties dating back to the Great War. Such ties were issued to and worn by convalescing wounded soldiers and the custom dates back to the Crimean War. Wearing a red tie like this was a visual cue that the soldier should be excused for leaning or not standing upright to attention. Several comic postcards of the era are included to show them being worn.

During the second world war, they tried a blue battledress and trousers but, as standard hospital issue was striped pyjamas, this idea was dropped. These red ties are quite the rarity. 4cm wide tapering to 2.5cm at the middle and featuring four lines of stitching reminiscent of a karate grading belt.

Yet the singularly most striking things about these antique military ties is their condition. So well preserved were they in their brown paper and string that the deep red is as bright today as it must have been then.

A Hollow Victory Christmas…

The war might have finished in time for Christmas 1918 but the mood in Europe was sombre. As this postcard of the time shows, even something as simple as putting up a stocking was a stark reminder of just how hard the previous four years had been on people.

Hoping the ‘Ol’ Rotter’ does get round to visit the homes of all our dealers, visitors and friends of the Market! Merry Christmas!

PS Don’t forget we’re closed on Christmas Eve, open New Years Eve!

Grim Reminder of a Terrible History

Insignia from elite military units of any country is always highly sought after but none more so than that of Hitler’s ‘death’s head’ force, the Waffen SS. Michael Burroughs of Anything Militaria will have these on sale at the Market this Saturday and has passed on details which attest to their authenticity.

The smaller Totenkopf are collar patches worn by other ranks or non-commissioned officers. They are machine embroidered on black doe skin and would be worn oppposite a collar patch showing the soldier’s rank.

The larger full size patch has the traditional buckram backing while its smaller counterpart may have been removed from a summer tunic shirt. It has the white inner backing cloth normally found on insignia made in occupied Belgium and France.

The Thrill of the Old

Whether it’s a bric a brac shop, a house clearance or a corner of the loft in your new house, it’s always worth a rummage to see what you might find.

In this case, it’s a stamp collection – a bit worse for wear thanks to the attention of some mice by the looks of it but once, clearly, a labour of love for someone keen on all matters philately. Whether recording the postage of Malta, former British colonies or obscure parts of distant continents the world over, the former owner took great care to record the date and perforation count of each one.

That person may no longer be here but their obsession is. We may only be the temporary curators of our collections but we’re an essential link in the chain between past and present.

Merrill’s Marauders

Continuing our theme of US military patches of units based in the CBI (China-Burma-India) theatre during WWII, today we have badges from one of the most famous special operations units of the time: the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) – otherwise known as Merrill’s Marauders.

These three US made examples all have the cut edge and flecked back. They’re nice and limp which adds to their authenticity and show no glow under UV light. It is very hard to find originals like these as the unit only existed for about a year between 1943-44. When they were reassigned into the 475th Infantry to make up the Marshall Task Force, some of them carried on wearing their old unit patches along with the new ‘MARS TASK FORCE’ ones, seen here.

These later patches were made in the Indian theatre and are very rare indeed. Alongside it is the chain stitched Ledo Road patch, worn by the unit who undertook the huge undertaking of constructing a road from Ledo in India to Burma. It was a then unparalleled feat of engineering snaking 271 miles through dense jungle.

The ‘CBI’ Patch

This week we’re featuring some rather splendid American ‘China Burma India’ theatre patch – otherwise known as the CBI.

It was never an intended formation sign or unit patch but came about because of the need of the US Military Police to identify armed forces personnel. With all nations wearing khaki, this was nigh on impossible.

In August 1942, Brigadier Frank Dorn came up with a patch featuring the sun of China and the Star of India incorporated into US colours. He had a few samples made in India and wore the first one on his left shoulder at a high level staff meeting. He had the other samples sent as production guides to Indian manufactuers. Before long it was standard issue for all US personnel based in China, Burma and India.

Easily the most desirable patches are the theatre made hand-sewn examples of silk, velvet and bullion wire.

The wartime US made examples are more common and should have  a cut edge, flecked reverse and be quite floppy. Nor should they glow under UV [black box]  light. This shows a nylon presence which was not used during the war and would therefore denote a fake.

Additionally, it was not uncommon for pilots, including illustrious ‘Flying Tigers’, to paint the detail on their leather jacket or to have equivalent patches made up of pieces of leather.