Quite the Patch

We’ve featured military patches before on this blog but this is a real rarity. Often patches owe their value to the short time frame in which they existed. The overwhelming needs of war meant that squadrons changed roles, moved bases, were merged with others or even disbanded.

It is a tremendous help in authenticating a patch to have the provenance and, happily, this is the case here. This Canadian made felt patch belonged to RC113232 J C Donnelly and is complemented by his worn out identity disc, CANADA nationality title, Observer and Navigator half wings. The 149th (Torpedo Bomber) Squadron was originally formed on 1 October 1942 and Donnelly received this patch on 1 July the following year. By 15 March 1944 the sqaudron had been disbanded but not before seeing service in an anti U-boat role off the pacific coast.

Straight to the Sauce

The saucy seaside postcard is now well over a hundred years old. While its origins at the end of the nineteenth century might have been very strait laced by modern standards steadily became more daring.

By the 1930s they had become a positive craze and various characters became staples of the trade. The buxom blonde, the overbearing mother-in-law, the fat vicar, the randy old man and the drunk holidaymaker barely changed for decades but the jokes got steadily more outrageous. So much so in fact that premises were raided and hefty fines handed out to artists under the 1857 Obscenity Act. As late as 1954, Donald McGill, the most famous seaside postcard artist received a hefty fine and thousands of his cards were seized in police raids.

The censors gave up as the sixties dawned but McGill continued working right up to his death. His position as an icon in postcard history was finally cemented in 1994 when the Royal Mail issued a set of stamps featuring his designs.

Three Hundred Years of Promising to Pay the Bearer…

The Bank of England was founded in 1694. Over the following century more than 100 provincial banks were established, creating a treasure trove of collectables for the modern notaphilist.

The Newcastle Bank, the Whitehaven Joint Stock Bank, the Manchester and Liverpool District Bank and the Leeds Old Bank are just a few of these. The flowing lines, subtle shading and fine script is a testament to the considerable financial power they once bore. Their relatively high denominations at the time meant that many people in the eighteenth – and even early nineteenth – century might never see a banknote their whole lives.

Prices inevitably reflect rarity and condition. As an example, a £5 note featuring York Minster and issued by Leyburn Bank for the York City & County Banking Company Limited in April 1899 came to auction in 2021. The note was one of the last examples issued by an English provincial bank and sold for £1,984.

We’re Back!

After our forced hiatus last Saturday, we’re pleased to say that things will be back to normal this week. So we’ll be setting out our stalls for collectors old and new. Stamps, coins, militaria, postcards and ephemera by the carload will be on show for curious connoisseurs, dedicated deltiologists and enthusiastic amateurs alike.

Every collection starts with that first purchase. So what will yours be?

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.