Mil­i­tary arte­facts stir in­ter­est at Sand­ton auc­tion

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - AN­GELIQUE SER­RAO

THE NDE­BELE bead­work didn’t move off the floor, but a col­lec­tion of rare mil­i­tary badges proved to be popular at an auc­tion in Sand­ton yes­ter­day.

Ear­lier this week, a 1km ar­ray of rare Nde­bele bead­work that de­picts 100 years of South African his­tory went on dis­play be­fore the auc­tion, dur­ing which 50 pieces were up for sale. The bead­work is no longer made and some of the older pieces were from the late 19th cen­tury.

How­ever, at the Stephan Welz & Co auc­tion, only a small amount of the beaded art­work was sold.

The auc­tion also had the largest col­lec­tion of Vic­to­rian hel­met plates and rare South African and Bri­tish mil­i­tary badges. Known as the George English col­lec­tion, it cov­ered the pe­riod from 1879 to 1914.

Capeto­nian George English, a 60-year mil­i­taria col­lec­tor, who died ear­lier this year at the age of 84, was well known in the col­lect­ing fra­ter­nity.

His long-lived in­ter­est in mil­i­taria stemmed from his peace­time ser­vice as a re­servist with the Dukes (Duke of Ed­in­burgh’s Own Ri­fles, now known as the Cape Town Ri­fles) in the 1950s.

His col­lec­tion of Dukes badges and as­so­ci­ated items was per­haps one of the best in pri­vate hands, said Peter Digby of Stephan Welz & Co.

The col­lec­tion in­cluded 50 Vic­to­rian and Ed­war­dian hel­met plates, as well as a pouch belt, sabre­tache badges, plaid brooches of South African Scot­tish units and other rare badges.

The auc­tion also had a white metal Zulu War hel­met plate of the Natal Hus­sars that was worn from 1869 to 1887, when the unit was ab­sorbed into the Natal Car­bi­neers. Only about five of the badges are known to have sur­vived.

Another stand­out item was a rare white metal hel­met plate of the Cape Town Ir­ish, a unit that ex­isted from 1885 to 1891. It is one of only three such ex­am­ples known to ex­ist. The hel­met plate was es­ti­mated at be­tween R6 000 and R10 000, but sold for dou­ble that at R22 736.

It was the first time an Um­geni Ri­fles of­fi­cer’s cap badge from 1907 had come on the mar­ket. It sold for R15 915.


SLOW MOVERS: Some of the Nde­bele bead­work in the large col­lec­tion of Ian Ball, an English-born New Zealan­der. Only a small amount of the art­work was sold at the auc­tion.

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