Buoyant Market for Titanic Memorabilia

Titanic-postcard-authentic

Hailed as ‘unsinkable’ before its maiden voyage on 11 April 1912, the Titanic retains an iron grip on the popular imagination. This is reflected in high prices for any contemporary postcards featuring the ship and, in particular, ones printed or posted before it sank. Most coveted of all is a card written on board and posted at the layover in Cork (then Queenstown) before it left on the ill-fated journey to New York. One such card written by a maid who wrote “I wish you were here, it is a lovely boat and it would do you good. Am just going on deck” fetched £8,500 at auction last year.

reverse-titanic-postcard-1912

Inevitably, unwary buyers (particularly online) can be caught out by fakes but this is the real thing: a Rotary Photo card posted just six weeks after the sinking and is signed by someone we know only as ‘J.H.’. His wry comment “I thought you would like this card” highlights just how dramatic this event was for people at the time and there was a huge demand for Titanic postcards immediately after the sinking. Some studios even used images of Titanic’s sister ship Olympic to cash in on this.

Photographs of the real Titanic show that the lower deck promenade is enclosed along the length of the ship while only the front half of the upper ‘A’ deck (circled) is similarly enclosed.

West Africa’s ‘red gold’

copper-african-manillas

Such was the value accorded to copper in early African civilisations that it came to be known as ‘red gold’. This was the prinicipal currency along the West African coast for hundreds of years and these ‘manilla’ or bracelets were worn by women to display their husband’s wealth. While some wore them on their wrist or ankle, a more ostentatious wife might wear a ‘King’ manilla (top right) as a necklace.

Other forms of exotic currency regularly traded at the market include katanga crosses, bochies (both also of copper), cowrie shells, silver Tok coins and base silver bar monies from Thailand in the shape of leeches, boats or a tiger’s tongue (with characteristic serrated texture).

A Safe Pair of Hands to Carry the Past into the Future

Visiting the market from Torquay with his Dad last Saturday, 11 year old Zach is normally looking to add more decimal currency to his collection. On this occasion though, it was a Freemason’s Chronicle on one of the ephemera stalls which caught his eye. Some might wonder what appeal such an esoteric old volume might have for a young lad just starting secondary school but Zach’s answer spoke volumes about his maturity. “It’s not the actual monetary value. I just love the history of the item” – clearly a young man of taste and discernment! We look forward to seeing him again.

The Goldfish Club

Anyone with a spare £1,150 can join the Groucho Club in London. But no amount of money can buy you membership of the Goldfish Club. The brainchild of C. A. Robertson, who was Chief Draughtsman at the (then) largest air-sea rescue equipment manufacturer in the world, this status could only be conferred on airmen whose lives had been saved by a life jacket or dinghy. Gold signified the value of human life with the fish obviously referring to the water.

From its inception in 1942 the club fluorished as air crew in the unfortunate position of having to ditch over the sea discovered a silver, or rather, gold lining to their situation. Members were given a laminated card (designed to survive their next encounter with the water) and a silk badge. The original material for these was donated by readers of the London Daily Express who gave up their evening dress suits for the cause. Although uniform regulations meant that they couldn’t be openly worn, most airmen had them sewn under the flap of their left hand breast pocket. By the end of the war the Goldfish Club had almost ten thousand members and it remains active today https://tinyurl.com/y3qh4cbc

Another typically unusual find from charingcrossmarket.com – every Saturday in the heart of Central London.

Insignia of the Westminster Rifles

Originally formed after the French invasion scare of 1859, the Queen’s Westminster Rifles were an infantry regiment in the British Army for the next 101 years.  It served with distinction in both wars playing a part in both the Battle of the Somme and El Alamein.

Seen here are two RB (Rifle Brigade) patches, the dark green one being worn on the side of the tropical Sikh headgear, the pugri, while the khaki one was stitched on the shoulder. KRR denotes the King’s Royal Rifles while the red hand is from an ulster formation. The beautiful silver detailing of the George and dragon scene is taken from the front of a WWI officer’s cap. 

Military patches and insignia have always had their devotees but this branch of militaria is becoming ever more popular.  Start your own collection or enhance an existing one this Saturday at Charing Cross Collectors Market.

Nearly time for the credits

As the lights go up for the last time this weekend at London Film Festival why not drop into Charing Cross Collectors Market this Saturday and browse for a souvenir among the merch from yesteryear. Alongside the movie memorabilia is an eclectic mix of collectables including stamps, coins, militaria, ephemera and antiques. Occupying a site in Central London just opposite the Embankment Tube station, the market can trace its lineage all the way back to the 1690’s before some of our dealers were even born. So pop in, say hello and see just why the best treasure has always been kept underground….

In the market for movie memorabilia

It’s London Film Festival! And with the British Film Institute just across the bridge we’re ideally placed for anyone wanting a quick break between events. Stretch your legs and take the Thames air with a stroll across the Jubilee Bridge. Find us opposite the entrance to the Embankment Tube Station just near Starbucks. A fascinating array of movie memorabilia and ephemera will be on sale alongside our other collectibles. You’re sure to find something of interest whether it’s classic headshots of the glitterati from the classic era of the silver screen, promotional postcards for films of the sixties and seventies or posters for modern classics. We look forward to seeing you!

Unseen Nazi Photos Emerge from Russian Archives

hitler rohm meeting photograph

As the ‘race to Berlin’ in 1945 was won by the rampaging Red Army, it was almost inevitable that Stalin’s troops would transport anything significant back to Moscow. Allegedly, that included Hitler’s corpse. Yet among the bureaucratic record of his dictatorship was a treasure trove of unpublished glass plate photographs. These had been deemed unsuitable for release by the Nazis at the time but many provide a fascinating glimpse of the life of Hitler and his inner circle.

The most valuable of these images bear the Russian Communist archive stamp on the reverse of the paper, usually Leonar or Brovira as seen here. This example shows Hitler smoking cigars at a meeting with Ernst Röhm. Although there is no date, it was certainly taken before June 1934 when he had the SA leader murdered during the Night of the Long Knives!

It’s all here…

Whether it’s a (defused!) WWII grenade, a set of Italian stamps commemorating the international gymastics competition of 1951, a silver tetradrachm from the third century BC or an Eagle comic from 1983 featuring Dan Dare taking on the evil might of the Mekon….chances are we’ve got it.

This is just a sample of some of the treasures on offer every Saturday at Charing Cross Collectors’ Market. Add to your collection (or start one!) this Saturday in the heart of Central London.

Cheaper Now Than In 1939

RAD Nazi women badges

This fine collection of women’s Nazi work service badges will be on sale this Saturday at Charing Cross Market. Prices vary but it will certainly not cost you six months’ work of up to 76 hours a week.

The Reich Labour Service or RAD was set up in 1935 as a way of managing unemployment in Germany. It was compulsory for men but voluntary for women until war broke out. Most women worked on farms, factories or in domestic service. With no real wages on offer, the Nazis created a hierarchy of badges to motivate and reward them.

They fall into one of three types: the Arbeitsmaid (bronze worker), the Maidenführer (silver leader) and the Lagerführer (camp leader). Design changes mean we can date them all to particular (war) years. The ‘iron grade’ badges bottom right were awarded from 1941 on completion of six months war service in addition to six months as a ‘volunteer’.