Yearly Archive 8th November 2016

World War One Death Penny - The Abingdon Colection

World War One Death Penny

I recently bought a World War One Death Penny at a local auction and have been taking the first steps in researching the soldier whose family received this very poignant symbol of the Great War.

Many thousands of these were issued in remembrance of the fallen and unfortunately, very few remain with the descendants of these brave men who died a century ago.

I have written before about how medals end up in the hands of collectors who are often the final curators of very personal items and artefacts.

As family members pass on, people move house, and the distance in time leaves items given away or sold as connections are broken to an individual who served and died in the conflicts of the past.

This ‘Death Penny’ has opened up a new chapter in remembrance that even I had not considered and is one that will require a lot more research.

The name inscribed on the plaque is ‘Archibald Douther’ and I will give you some of the details that I have been able to assemble so far.

Archibald was born on 28th September 1888 in Ballyclare , County Antrim. He was the son of Thomas and Elizabeth Douther and the husband of Martha Douther. This name is well known in the Ballyclare area and I intend making contact with relatives who may survive in the area.

While the search is just starting I have been able to find out some important information.

Sergeant Archibald Douther, Serial number 53042 was aged 30 when he died. What is so surprising is that he was with the Eastern Ontario Regiment of the Canadian Infantry in the 6th Reserve Battalion.

I can only assume that he immigrated to Canada, joined the Army and was shipped to France where he was seriously wounded in 1918 and then sent home to his family back in Northern Ireland.

What is so sad about this Death Penny is that he died of his wounds on December 13th 1918, more than a month after the war ended. He is buried in the New Cemetery, Ballyclare and his name is listed on the official Canadian War memorial.

There is a lot of work to do in researching Archibald’s story and I would like to visit his grave and also bring the ‘Penny’ back to the family if they would like to have it returned.

As generations go by, memories and family history are often lost and a chance encounter with a collector reignites interest and calls out a name from the past that has perhaps remained silent for decades. That is what history is all about and the value of research is in remembering a long forgotten name.

If anyone reading this recognises the name, please contact me as the search has just begun. This Death Penny was in the original and rare waxed cardboard cover which likely means that it was never displayed and remained unopened.

Call me on 028 8224 3373 or email if you have any additional information.

Philip Faithfull, The Abingdon Collection

1936 Obergefreiter Service Tunic - The Abingdon Collection

1936 Obergefreiter Service Tunic

I thought a few of the avid militaria collectors might be interested in the attached photographs of a new addition to The Abingdon Collection.

Last month I swore to my bank manager and my wife that my spending days were over and that, after the last motorcycle, the collection was now complete.

Well just as the story of all the buses coming at one time sometimes happens, another important military collection comes up for sale.

We have over seventy mannequins in the collection but this is certainly the best presented that I have seen for some time particularly in this unusual stance.

The mannequin included the following:

  • Model 1936 service tunic badged to an Obergefreiter (Corporal)
  • Rare combat trousers
  • Helmet with replaced decals
  • Y- Straps
  • Breadbag
  • K98 Bayonet
  • Shovel and cover
  • Water bottle
  • Gas mask and container
  • Mess tin
  • Army belt and buckle
  • Studded marching boots
  • Deactivated K98 Mauser
  • Early replica MP40
  • Ammunition pouches

The mannequin must date back at least thirty years and is in great condition and poses well with the equipment.

I just wish some young entrepreneur would think about starting a company to reproduce this older type mannequin as I know that there is a market out there for Collectors and the retail trade.

Anyway, if you want to see the latest addition just call me on 028 8224 3373 to arrange a visit.

Philip Faithfull, The Abingdon Collection

Harley's Beagle Blog - The Abingdon Collection

Harley’s Beagle Blog August 2016

More thoughts from The Abingdon Collection

Hello fans, Harley Beagle here again and could I first apologise for not being allowed to write my blog for the last few months.

The man I own took it upon himself to produce some absolute rubbish about classic cars and motorcycles – my usual literary brilliance was sidelined and I was not impressed. I write to you all to let you know that ‘Harley Beagle’ has broken out and will continue to spread the message and ensure equality for all canines and especially hounds.

I write this having had a very trying and difficult week. On Thursday, on what my human laughingly calls a ‘long walk’, I found on returning home a trail of blood on the tiled floor. Being a brave Beagle, I did not pass out, but carried out the ancient medical dog ritual of licking my paw as hard as I could.

I could easily have survived this war wound, but no, the next morning me and Dusty get bundled into the back of a fast moving car and got shipped to the Vets. I was promised a long walk but instead found myself at the ‘Gates of Hell’ where no dog should have to go.

Harley the Beagle with bandged paw - The Abingdon Collection
What a life! Harley with a bandaged paw and now a diet

They made the mistake of getting me out of the car for a quick pee and then expected me and my mate to simply stroll up the steps of the Vets… Suckers… are they mad? The last time I went up those steps I got chloroformed and left a day later minus two very important bits missing.

For the past four years I have avoided going up those steps and not even a team of wild horses and a tractor is ever going to get me to the top. I was conned… a Vet comes down the stairs, grabs me like a sheep and the next thing I know I am in God’s waiting room with a diabetic cat and a Springer Spaniel on drugs.

Into a treatment room and ten minutes later I end up with a leg bandage that would look better on a horse and hobble out to reception. The Vet informs me that I am overweight… I am not overweight! I am just not tall enough for a dog my weight… Is it my fault that I am not tall enough??? This is a height issue, not a weight issue.

Anyway, I get stuck on the weighing scales and they announce to the world that I am 48.5 Kilos and need to lose 18 Kilos… are they mad? I am a Beagle Harrier not a Chihuahua or whatever they are called.

To lose 18 kilos I would have to cut my head off because there is no way that this Beagle is going on any fad diet, eating rice and grain… I am a meat eater and do not need the opinion of any Vet to tell me I am overweight… Come to think of it he could afford to lose a few pounds himself but I ain’t going to tell him.

Harley the brave Beagle with bandaged paw - The Abingdon Collection
Harley the brave Beagle with bandaged paw

So here I am with a bandage round my leg and a diet sheet at the bottom of my bed. No more cans, no more stealing cat food, no more begging, just crappy dried food and water. I would go on hunger strike if I wasn’t so hungry.

To rub salt on the whole episode, the Vet said I may put on weight on this diet at the start as the body gets used to it… What is he on? Fat chance… For me to put on weight on this meagre diet I would have to eat Dusty and the cat.

I think my bones are starting to show through and I may consider a phone call to the ‘Dogs Abuse helpline’… If you get this message please send food parcels as I now think that I have contracted one of those slimming disorders.

Signing off now to have a chew at the bandage and get a drink of low calorie water.

Visit me at The Abingdon Collection… but hurry, I can only hold out for a short time.

1942 Matchless G3L 350cc - The Abingdon Collection

1942 Matchless G3L 350cc

As a collector, I have often commented on the fact that we are only custodians of these large collections and in time they need to be passed on to a new generation who hopefully will both enjoy the thrill of ownership but also protect the memories attached to the artefacts.

I was recently very honoured to be offered one of the wonderful motorcycles from the ‘Noel Preston Collection’ in Omagh. Noel is an internationally recognised expert on AJS and Matchless machinery but unfortunately ill health has forced the breakup of his lifetime’s collection.

Noel was a keen restorer and historian on these machines and the collection was a true tribute to his skills. While the collection has now been dispersed, the machines are living new lives with owners who respect the sheer beauty and engineering of these vintage motorcycles.

It is sad for any owner to see a collection that he or she has been passionate about being broken up, but this has always been the way that new collectors get the enthusiasm to continue and keep history alive.

The names on documents may change as vehicles change hands but the passion lives on. In the Classic Car market at present, some models are changing hands for ridiculous sums today and there is currently no sign of the market slowing down.

In a booklet published by ‘Auto Classic Weekly’ in the 1990’s it recommended buying, among others, good condition E-Type Jaguars for £12,000 or Ford Escort Mexico’s for £3,000. If only we had all heeded the advice and stockpiled a few of the out of favour cars of the past we could all have retired by now.

This, however, is not why we collect these machines and gone are the days of the investor, only there to make a killing from another investment portfolio. Classic vehicle owners now keep what they have and search for the best they can afford.

There is no doubt that recent Classic Car Auction prices are affecting the market, you only have to look at recent results for Ford Capris to see how the market is changing.

Good classic cars and motorcycles will always hold their value and there is a need to collect, drive and show these fantastic machines to a new generation who hopefully will continue to keep this history alive. Collectors and restorers like Noel Preston and my late good friend, Nick Murray have ensured that history lives on in their tremendous skill and hands on work.

Young mechanics and collectors have a lot to learn in keeping this tradition alive and I hope that they take the time to reflect, learn from and develop the skills that are unfortunately being lost in a computer generated world where the humble carburettor will soon be a museum piece only.

Philip Faithfull,The Abingdon Collection

Harley's Beagle Blog - The Abingdon Collection

Harley’s Beagle Blog March 2016

More thoughts from The Abingdon Collection – Collecting

Those of you who have signed in to read Harley’s regular words of wisdom are going to be disappointed, as this month he has given the human he owns a chance to say a few words about a subject close to my heart, namely ‘COLLECTING’.

Many of you are aware that this particular collecting disease came out of one single item given to me at the age of fourteen by the father of my girlfriend who was later to become my wife, Hazel.

This item happened to be a fairly rare Mk.1 Lee Metford bayonet. Not the usual gift, but one which would have a major influence on my life, my interests and more critically my bank balance which would rarely be in the black for the next fifty years.

If you do not collect you will read this article not understanding the fascination that comes from searching out an item that adds another artefact to an already crowded space.

However, if you have the misfortune to be blessed with the collector’s genes then you will know how all consuming this hobby can be. While there is no cure for it, we at least need to admit to having a problem and I can confirm that I am a militaria collector among other things and definitely have a problem.

There is no AA or GA for us and most of us suffer in silence, counting the cost and wondering where to put the next item that without question you do not need, cannot afford but must have.

Shopaholics are nothing when compared to collectors and they will travel thousands of miles each year searching for the illusive item that must be bought.

Thomas M. Johnson, in one of his excellent volumes on collecting Edged weapons, quotes William Melmoth who said …

An object in possession seldom returns the same charm that it had in pursuit.

Thomas M. Johnson quoting William Melmoth

Perhaps this is the essence of all collecting as we scour antique shops, militaria shows and the internet for that one item that must be had.

I was very saddened to read about the death of Roger Evans [1943 – 2016] who was one of the pioneer bayonet collectors who influenced many young collectors.

Growing up I relied heavily on the written expertise of John Watts, Peter White, Fred Stephens, Anthony Carter, Jim Maddox, Bob Richardson and others to provide knowledge in a very limited pool before the World Wide Web. Roger Evans was one of these teachers who fed the interest of his knowledge hungry audience with skill and an expertise that only time and experience can muster.

I have hundreds of collectors and students visit the collection each year and the variation in knowledge is obviously immense; from the collectors who surpass my meagre knowledge to the teenager just starting out but eager to learn.

Collector’s starting in the 1970’s relied heavily on the written word which was scarce but they also relied on networks of other collectors who had handled edged weapons in the past and built up an authority that only experience can give. It worries me today that we rely on the Internet for everything and books will only be used as a last resort.

Collecting friends have built up massive libraries of reference books but what will happen to these when the time comes to pass them on? It takes time to build up even a basic knowledge base in any collecting subject and Militaria collectors have such a wide area of interest to cover that we can never hope to achieve full knowledge of our subject or the history that surrounds it.

Writers like Roger Evans provided an education to collectors searching for basic knowledge on this fascinating subject and I sincerely hope that others will follow in his footsteps in the years to come.

We all know that we are only the custodians of these collections and artefacts and I sincerely hope that young collectors will put the time, energy, finance and knowledge into keeping living history alive.

I invite those interested to visit The Abingdon Collection in Omagh, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, to see what one item given as a gift some fifty years ago can turn into.

Collecting is a disease but I am so glad I contracted it at such an early age.

Philip FaithFull, The Abingdon Collection

Harley's Beagle Blog - The Abingdon Collection

Harley’s Beagle Blog February 2016

More thoughts from The Abingdon Collection

Hi Fans, Harley Beagle here with another exciting adventure in the life of Dusty dog and me. I have complained before that my life revolves around sleeping, eating, playing, walking, more sleeping and trying to set a new world record in building mountains of ‘poo’ in the back garden.

There has always been something missing in my life and while Dusty can offer moral support she is never actually going to be the love of my life. She is about six inches in height off the ground and I am a good three feet when on all fours. February, I have been told, brings with it St. Valentines day and with it Beagle Harriers thoughts turn to love.

One major problem of course is that as a young dog I was kidnapped, imprisoned, drugged and underwent medical procedures without my consent. I ask you, is this fair or even legal? I am now forced to wander the wastelands like Mad Max with no chance of ever having any puppies of my own.

That is very sad and I never even got a chance to try it. I just moved from being a puppy to being a confirmed bachelor. At least Dusty got to see what all the fuss was about all I got was the chance to smell the rear end of a Golden Retriever. So much for adolescence, walks in the country, meals out and the companionship of a partner for life.

So when you buy the roses and chocolates on St. Valentine’s Day spare a thought for me, my love unrequited and if you feel bad enough just send treats to Harley Beagle at The Abingdon Collection. Your donation to the escape fund ensures Dusty and me another year of living in luxury, with no worries except which ball will I play with today.

It’s not a bad life but I do feel that I missed out on something… I am just not sure what.

‘Time for bed and more dreams’ said Dusty.

‘Time for food’ said Harley.

Harley's Beagle Blog - The Abingdon Collection

Harley’s Beagle Blog January 2016

More thoughts from The Abingdon Collection

Hi fans, and can I wish you all a very happy New Year. Well, Christmas is over for another year and I just hope that you got better presents than I did. You know that I do not normally complain but I need to call a spade a spade… in fact, a spade may have been a more useful present than what I actually received.

Imagine all the hype and excitement in the build up to Christmas morning, decorations to destroy, turkey to steal and presents to tear apart. I decided to be good this year and see what bounty would be bestowed on a well behaved Beagle Harrier.

Christmas morning dawned and the humans got very excited over a load of old tat, but what was there for me and Dusty? The humans unwrapped the blessed things for us not even giving us the satisfaction of tearing the paper apart. The parcel opened and what glorious gifts do I get?

Answer… another bloody red dog collar!!!

Well excuse me for not being overwhelmed by the generosity of the people I own but this is simply rubbing salt in the wounds… For five years, pup and dog, I have been subjected to this form of indignation in having to wear a leather shackle around my neck and been pulled around places I did not want to go.

So, a new collar?… I looked at it in disgust and then someone said  – ‘look his name and telephone number are engraved on it, isn’t that cute’… ‘CUTE! CUTE?’… I know my name is Harley and if my memory serves me well I have never had to phone home once in my last five years on this planet… not only that but if I was phoning myself it would be pointless as I would be the one making the call to myself…. Do they never think these things through?

So what does Dusty get that I can steal… you guessed it another daft collar with her name and telephone number on it… great! Now if you think I don’t need to phone home spare a thought for Dusty who up to eighteen months ago had never even seen a phone let alone used one. So what now? Well if we are ever apart I guess we could phone each other provided we had eyes in the back of our heads to actually read the phone number.

What a waste of money… I wanted a big T-bone steak or at least a couple of burgers and all I get is a stupid red collar… life is so unfair. Dusty ended up also getting some coats for the cold weather… do humans not realise that we already are supplied with fur coats that have done us well for the last few thousand years.

Dusty looks like a very small, fat Superhero when they dress her up. They would have been better equipping her with a set of small training wheels underneath her stomach to keep it off the ground when she walks. Oh no… They are trying to fit her into a mini Santa suit and cap now.

Don’t worry Dusty, I will save you!!!

I also got two Christmas stockings full of treats, a lot of food and a lot of hugs and walks… maybe this Christmas lark is not so bad after all.

Anyway, must go now to devour the remains of the Christmas turkey. Dusty and I wish you all a very Happy New Year and don’t forget to visit us in 2016. My New Year resolutions will be to lose weight, do more exercise and be more tolerant of the people I own. Going for a well deserved sleep now ‘cause I only got twelve hours last night.