PRESS RELEASE ____________________________________________________________APRIL 2010
Please note sales results are quoted towards the end of this re-release
BOER PRISONERS OF 1914 - HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF
In Stephan Welz & Company’s Johannesburg April Sale, memorabilia collectors will discover items of great rarity and interest. In the Books, Maps and Africana Pictures, Prints and Memorabilia Section of Session Four on Wednesday 21 April at 14h00, Lots 561 to 563 feature Boer 1914 Rebellion memorabilia both unique and historically fascinating.
For years, collectors of items of Anglo-Boer War interest have been aware of the numerous carved artefacts fashioned by Boer Prisoners of War who were incarcerated in P.O.W. Camps in locations that stretched from Simonstown to St. Helena, from Ceylon to India and even to Bermuda. To while away hours of boredom, such carvings not only provided a distraction but they could be sold as well.
In 1914, a Rebellion took place in South Africa three and a half years after the establishment of the Union of South Africa. In 1914, when war broke out between Britain and Germany, many former Republicans were unwilling to fight on the side of Britain. There was considerable bitterness among their ranks resulting from the Anglo-Boer War. When General Louis Botha, Prime Minister of the Union, announced the Government’s intention to invade German South West Africa, matters came to a head. Fighting between the Rebels and Government Forces broke out in the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. The Government Forces speedily defeated the Rebel generals in the field. The last Rebels surrendered early in 1915.
Many of the Rebels were imprisoned and sentenced to periods of imprisonment. Although prisoners, those placed behind bars were held under very different circumstances. Prisoners were on home ground, very often close to their homes and could be visited by family and friends. The period of imprisonment was far shorter. Nor was there an outlet to sell items made in Prisoner of War cantonments or gaols. Items that were made remained cherished family possessions and were not sold.
The upcoming April sale is very different in that it will offer items made by one such prisoner of war, No. 2175, J.C. van der Merwe who was captured on 29 October 1914 in the Lichtenburg District which was the heart of Rebel activity. The embellished miniature Bible, books and coats of arms are typical of such items made 12 to 14 years earlier by Boer Prisoners of War far from home. Research has shown that such items were made by former prisoners of war who in 1914 found themselves prisoners once more. The only difference being that 1914 P.O.W. items are of much greater rarity – they are, in fact, a carryover of the Anglo-Boer War and will surely be keenly sought by Anglo-Boer War collectors.
Union of South Africa coat of arms
Pre-sale estimate R2 200 - R3 200
SOLD FOR R5 750
The jewel in the crown is Lot 562, a carved plaque of the Union of South Africa Coat of Arms. Van der Merwe departed from the customary coats of arms of the old Boer Republics – instead he chose to carve a detailed coat of arms of the Union of South Africa which represented the Government that had captured and imprisoned him during the 1914 Rebellion. This plaque is the only known example of a Union coat of arms made by a Rebel P.O.W.
Lot 561 Lot 563
Two carved books in a slipcase Z.A.R. coat of arms carved stone plaque
(and two others) (and another, plinth-mounted)
circa 1914 - 1915 circa 1914 - 1915
Pre-sale estimate R2 200 - R2 400 Pre-sale estimate R2 200
SOLD FOR R8 400 SOLD FOR R8 400
Research and comment by P Digby