Saturday, 25 April 2009

Gallantry medal given to dog in Second World War sells for £24,000

The mongrel, called Rip, was awarded a Dickin Medal in 1945 after sniffing out dozens of air raid victims during the blitz.

The founder of veterinary charity PDSA, Maria Dickin, began awarding the medals in 1943 to recognise animals which showed "conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty".

The Dickin Medal became known as the animal version of the Victoria Cross. Since its introduction 62 have been awarded to dogs, pigeons, horses and a cat.

Rip was found homeless and starving after an air raid in 1940.

An air raid warden working at Southill Street Air Raid Patrol in Poplar, east London, adopted the dog and Rip began sniffing out people trapped in the rubble.

The warden found the dog, which had no official training, was always on duty, never got in the way and was quick to locate casualties.

During the Blitz he helped to find and rescue more than 100 air raid victims.

It was partly due to Rip's success that towards the end of the war the authorities decided to train dogs officially to trace casualties.

Rip wore the Dickin Medal on his collar for the rest of his life.

He died in 1948 and was the first of 12 "supreme animal heroes" to be buried in the PDSA cemetery in Ilford, Essex.

His headstone reads: "Rip, D.M., 'We also serve', for the dog whose body lies here played his part in the Battle of Britain."

The winning bidder at the Spink auction in central London wanted to remain anonymous.

Realtor offers free divorce with home

HUELVA, Spain - A Spanish real estate company is offering a free divorce lawyer as an incentive to couples who purchase three-bedroom homes in Huelva province. Officials with Geimsa realtors said the deal is aimed at couples who have been postponing divorce because they can't afford new homes, Britain's The Daily Telegraph reported. "A divorce is very expensive," said Vanesa Contioso of Geimsa. "So we are offering new clients the free use of our lawyers to handle the process." The deal applies to married couples who purchase three-bedroom homes for at least $89,000 in Huelva province.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Hitler paintings sold for £95,589

LONDON (AFP) — A series of watercolours by Adolf Hitler were sold at a British auction house on Thursday for over 100,000 euros.

The 13 paintings, most of them landscapes and found in a garage earlier this year by the seller, went for 95,589 pounds at auctioneers Mullock's.

An apparent self-portrait showing a man with a side-parting sitting on a stone bridge, and signed with the initials A.H., sold for 10,000 pounds at the auction at Ludlow.

Richard Westwood-Brookes of the auctioneers -- who had earlier said the pictures "are hardly Picasso" -- said the final price, which included buyer's premium, was a surprise.

"I am very pleased. I thought they would go for between five and six thousand," he said.

The paintings date back to between 1908 and about 1914, when the former German leader was a young man trying to earn a living as an artist in Vienna.

"Unfortunately for the world, he was not accepted into the Vienna Academy, which was where he wanted to be," Westwood-Brookes said.

"Of course, if he had been accepted, then we would have known him today as an artist and not as an evil tyrant."

Westwood-Brookes said the seller bought them from someone who found them in 1945.

Many of the works are signed with the initials "A.H." The sale also included a collection of official Nazi magazines for schoolboys and women, featuring knitting patterns and recipes.

In 2006, 21 of Hitler's works were sold in Britain for 118,000 pounds.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Mafeking siege notes in mint condition sold in Bury St Edmunds

I find this article interesting as we have two copies of The Mafeking Gazette for sale in The Green Room. These single page newspapers ("Issued daily, shells permitting") were issued during the siege and must be quite rare. We have priced them at £50 each which must be a bargain

From the Antiques Trade Gazette:

Today Robert Baden-Powell is best known as the founder of the Boy Scout movement in 1908, but in the Edwardian era his name was synonymous with the Boer War, and specifically the 217 wretched days from October 1899 to May 1900.

The resistance of the town of Mafeking, an overnight stop on the vital rail link between the Cape Colony and mineral-rich Bechuanaland, has gone into legend as a great game of bluff, with the burying of fake landmines, erecting of non-existent barbed wire fences and moving of the small number of cannon around each night.

But equally important for the Commander of the Rhodesian forces was the continuation of daily life for the white English community of 1200 men, women and children as well as the 1250 armed men at his disposal. Under Baden-Powell’s command, the besieged population of Mafeking published a morale-boosting newspaper, made stamps for the town mail and – as normal commerce broke down – issued their own banknotes.

Siege notes are among the most tangible survivors of the Mafeking ordeal.

They were printed on ordinary writing paper in five denominations of one, two, three and ten shillings and one pound from January to March 1900 in an underground shelter. The town auctioneer Edward Ross, who penned one of the many accounts of the siege, aided in the process. He noted: “I had a little signboard made, Mafeking Mint. No Admission.”

Lacy Scott & Knight offered a dozen numbered Mafeking Siege notes in near-mint condition for sale in Bury St Edmunds on December 13. The vendor had acquired them in a house clearance in Bury in the 1970s.

The simple one-, two- and three-shilling notes took the form of vouchers to be used in the canteens for a daily ration of hard-baked oat bread and horse meat. These lower-value notes carry a facsimile signature for the Army Paymaster, Captain H. Greener.

For obvious reasons these notes are the most commonly encountered, although the three-shilling note survives in lesser numbers. While a one-shilling note dated February 1900, No.B6382 provided the lowest bid at £260, a three-shilling banknote, dated January 1900 and numbered A3628, commanded £1000.

In his memoirs, Baden-Powell recalled his personal input in the design of the ten-shilling and one-pound siege notes:
“The design for the one-pound note I drew on a boxwood block, made from a croquet mallet cut in half, and this I handed to a Mr Riesle, who had done wood engraving. But the result [two rudimentary images of soldiers with cannon] was not satisfactory from the artistic point of view, so we used that as a ten-shilling note and I drew another design which was photographed for the pound note.”

Several examples of both higher denomination notes were seen at LS&K. Early issues of the ten-shilling note include a typographical error: Issued by authority of Col R.S.S. Baden-Powell, Comman[d]ing Frontier Forces.

Examples sold here for up to £750 each: a later issue, No.6354, with the error corrected, sold at £350.

The blue one-pound siege note, complete with Baden-Powell’s competent sketch of Rhodesian troops under the Union flag, was signed in ink by Robert Bradshaw Clarke Urry, the manager of the Mafeking branch of the Standard Bank of South Africa, and by Paymaster Greener who gave each issue of notes authority by depositing a cheque of an equivalent amount into the Standard Bank. The examples here, all in superb condition, sold for up to £1600.

In total, more than £5228 in notes and coupons was issued during the siege. However, little more than £638 worth of coupons were ever redeemed. The rest were kept as souvenirs or lost, and redemption of the notes ceased in September 1908.

Mr Ross was a prophetic fellow. “This note business is going to be a good thing for the Government as I am sure they will be worth much more than face value as curios after the siege, and people are collecting as many as they can get hold of now, to make money afterwards,” he wrote at the time.

The degree of his prescience can be judged from the fact that the face value of the 16 notes sold last month was £6 14s. The total for the 16 lots was £12,500, some 1865 times the original sum.

By Roland Arkell