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Such artifacts are not only collectible but also serve as historical documents of past social movements.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.

Rome’s Golden Legacy

For avid collectors and history enthusiasts alike, the charm of medieval artifacts is undeniable. One such treasure is the Roman gold ducat pendant, a remarkable piece with a rich history that captures the essence of medieval craftsmanship and religious significance.

The Roman gold ducat, inspired by the Venetian model, was minted with intricate designs showing a Roman senator kneeling before St. Peter on one side, and Christ within a star-filled oval on the reverse. The Venetian ducat’s influence is clear, yet the Roman coin stands out due to its unique adaptations and its association with the Roman Senate’s introduction of gold coinage. Unlike the Florentine florin, which was protected from imitation by the city’s financial controllers, the Roman ducat closely followed the Venetian design, making it a fascinating study in medieval monetary politics.

Over the centuries, the Popes altered the designs but maintained the ducat’s weight and size, producing these coins into the 16th century. Due to their pure gold content, many were melted down for new coinage, rendering surviving examples rare and highly valuable. This particular ducat, now mounted as a pendant, showcases its historical and artistic heritage. Interestingly, the reverse side shows Christ upside down, and a small hole punched to the side could have been a test of the coin’s authenticity, as soft gold would easily show such marks.

Cover Story

A fascinating find for any philatelist, this used cover from Honduras, dated June 8, 1942, offers a treasure trove of historical details. A used cover refers to an envelope that has been postally used, typically without its original contents. This particular envelope features several intriguing elements that make it a standout piece.

The brown 1 centavo stamp commemorates September 15, 1942, although the postmarks clearly indicate a mailing date of June 8, 1942, posing a curious anomaly for collectors. Adding to its appeal, this cover includes a rare American Bank Note Company 1 cent Red Cross stamp at the bottom left, enhancing its collectible value.

The large airmail arrow and the blue 8 centavos stamps, printed by the British American Bank Note Company, are strikingly placed upside down, adding a unique charm. And the censor seal strip hints at the envelope’s journey during a wartime period when Honduras was contributing to the Allied war effort by supplying raw materials to North America for the Pacific, North African, and European theaters.

War Stories in Wallets: Vietnam ID Cards

For collectors seeking unique historical artifacts, identity cards from the Vietnam War era present a fascinating and affordable opportunity. While not everyone can afford the $57,000 paid at Bonhams for Marilyn Monroe’s ID card, used during her tour entertaining troops in Korea, there’s still a wealth of history to be had. This card fetched such a high price despite its image being widely available as a souvenir.

In contrast, US-issued identity photograph cards for South Vietnamese citizens from the Vietnam War (1965-75) offer a more accessible entry point into this niche. Each card, like Monroe’s, features a photograph, fingerprint, signature, and place of issue, typically Saigon. These ID cards are unique to each individual and are currently priced at a very reasonable £10-£20 each. As we approach the 60th anniversary of the conflict’s beginning, interest in these items is likely to grow, making now an excellent time to start or expand a collection.

Chuting Stars

Today we feature a scarf made from American camouflage silk cut from a parachute. This type of fabric was used by troops dropped behind enemy lines during World War II. Unlike the regular white parachutes used by diversionary forces, these camouflage chutes provided better concealment once on the ground.

It became common practice among special forces to cut a piece from their first jump chute and wear it as a necktie or scarf. This tradition symbolized their service and the challenges they faced. When purchasing a piece of wartime chute fabric, collectors should look for irregular shapes and joins, as parachutes were made of long thin triangles with many seams, never using white thread.

Though some camouflage parachutes were used in the Korean War, their use dwindled by the 1950s. These scarves and pieces of fabric are more than just items; they are pieces of history, reflecting the bravery and resourcefulness of the troops who wore them.

Pinning Down History: New Zealand Wartime Badges

During the Second World War, New Zealand aircrew, often serving within the Royal Air Force (RAF), wore nationality badges to signify their origins. The photographs showcase several such badges produced by J.R. Gaunt and other UK makers. These badges served as a mark of identity for the New Zealanders in the RAF.

Among the collection is a unique souvenir card-mounted brooch, featuring sterling silver and inlaid mother-of-pearl. This brooch, designed in the style of earlier Gaunt badges, was a more commercial piece sold during the Commonwealth Flying Training Program, which took place in the relative safety of New Zealand. The training program was a significant effort to prepare aircrew while keeping them away from the direct dangers of the conflict in Europe.

These items are not just pieces of metal but carry stories of bravery and camaraderie, symbolizing the contributions of New Zealanders during a tumultuous period in history. Collectors and history enthusiasts alike can appreciate the craftsmanship and historical value these badges represent.

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!