Boer War Page 93h
Great Canadian Heritage Discoveries
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Below are some of the key items the Canadian Boer War Museum has added to its collections in its ongoing efforts to preserve important Canadian heritage memorabilia from this period.

Introducing "The Gentleman in Kharki" - 1900

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Match Striker, Gentleman in Kharki, type 1 - 1900
Orig. ceramic - Size - 6.5 cm h x 8.5 cm w
Found - Creemore, ON
Signed Macintyre Burslem
Can you guess what this item is? It is one of the most unique Boer War memorabilia items to be found. This item is only 6.5 cm high by 8.5 cm wide, and is unusually heavy, being completely solid except for the shallow hole at the top. It is in rare good condition because heavy use often disfigured the picture of many others that still survive.

You can tell it it Boer War by the unique soldier portrait with which it is adorned, "A Gentleman in Kharki" standing stalwart against the foe, with his head bandaged. This motif was put on plates, cups, pictures, silks, etc. all during the war.

The picture was drawn by Caton-Woodville, a famous artist in late Victorian, and Edwardian England, who drew many battle scenes during the Anglo-Boer War.

The soldier and drawing were inspired by Rudyard Kipling - the most renowned writer of the English language at the turn of the century - who had written a poem "The Absent-minded Beggar" in honour of the common British soldier, slogging through the daily grind of a terrible war with few thanks from anyone. His poem was used to rouse the public to raise funds to help the wounded and the widows in the aftermath of battles that resulted in huge numbers of British casualties, early in the war.

The Absent-minded Beggar - Rudyard Kipling

WHEN you've shouted " Rule Britannia," when you've sung "God save the Queen,"
When you've finished killing Kruger with your mouth,
Will you kindly drop a shilling in my little tambourine
For a gentleman in khaki ordered South?
He's an absent-minded beggar, and his weaknesses are great -
But we and Paul must take him as we find him -
He is out on active service, wiping something off a slate
And he's left a lot of little things behind him!
Duke's son - cook's son - son of a hundred kings
(Fifty thousand horse and foot going to Table Bay!)
Each of 'em doing his country's work
(and who's to look after their things?)
Pass the hat for your credit's sake, and pay - pay - pay !

The poem - only verse one, above, was printed - was often featured on kerchiefs and plates, and on the back of this unique ceramic item. Note: the old spelling of "kharki."

Still can't identify it?

In fact it is a match striker. Matches would be jammed into the hole on top and smokers would grab one and "strike" the side of the "bowl." To offer resistance to the strike it had to be heavy, and explains why the surface on many are often defaced from hundreds of strikings.

This match striker is, by far, the most common one to be found from the Boer War era - one without crazing, the most rare to find.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Match Striker, Gentleman in Kharki, type 2 - 1900
Orig. ceramic - Size - 6.5 cm h x 8.5 cm w
Found - Toronto, ON
Signed Raphael Tuck
This Kipling match striker seems to have been made by two main manufacturers, Macintyre Burslem, above, without the advertising, and below, by Raphael Tuck, for Usher's Special Reserve OVG whiskey, of Edinburgh, Scotland.

Crazing: Note the crazing, the tiny hairline cracks that one often finds in varying degrees on old china, caused by variations in heat effecting the glaze during the passing decades.

For some reason it is almost impossible to find a crazing-free "Gentleman in Kharki" match striker. And many have an inordinate amount of heavy crazing at that. It must have been something in the materials that Raphael Tuck and Macintyre used during the manufacturing process, or how they fired the ceramics.

One can't explain the crazing on their match strikers by mistreatment by users or exposure to various temperatures in later life. All we have seen have extensive crazing; the Carlton Ware and Wileman Foley versions, and the anonymous Lord Kitchener example, below, have none.

It must be remembered that crazing is not structural damage to the ceramic itself; it is only a splitting of the skin of glazing that has been used to coat the item.


Boer War Era Match Strikers - 1900

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Match Striker, Lord Roberts - 1900
Orig. ceramic - Size - 6.5 cm h x 8.5 cm w
Found - Northumbria, UK
Signed Carlton Ware
A Tale of Two Match Strikers

The near registry number dates to 1895, the far one to 1900. That does not mean that the near one is older because the Rd No often refers to when the blank pattern was first patented, which is resurrected in later years to take advantage of political developments like the Boer War.

So in spite of one appearing to be five years older, it is not. Both were issued between Jan. and Dec. 1900. Here's why.

Both have the same transfers of the three officers above, that reflected the the dramatic shift in the power structure that occurred in Dec. 1899, when Buller was demoted and Lord Roberts took over with Kitchener. In 1900 Buller continued to serve in South Africa.

In December 1900, with the war looking to be all but over, Lord Roberts relinquished power to Lord Kitchener, and he and Buller both returned to England. Then the ruthless guerrilla war started and the British virtually stopped making war souvenir items, which is why Lord Kitchener memorabilia items have RD numbers from 1900 or earlier, or after 1914.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Match Striker, Lord Roberts, The Army - 1900
Orig. ceramic - Size - 6.5 cm h x 8.5 cm w
Found - Shoreline, CT, US
Signed Wileman Foley
The Army - 1900

Probably the most common Boer War decorative pattern, for plates, cups, and saucers, was the one left, featuring a Union Jack backed, Victoria Cross pattern enclosing a cameo of VC hero Lord Roberts, guarded by two khaki clad soldiers, and entitled The Army.

This Wileman Foley match striker is more common than the one by Carlton Ware above, but is unique in being the only one with a design hand painted on; the others used transfers. The opposite side features the names of the leading generals that were in the headlines by mid-1900.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Match Striker, Lord Kitchener - 1898
Orig. ceramic - Size - 6 cm h x 8 cm w
Found - Montreal, PQ
Unsigned
Lord Kitchener of Khartoum - 1898

The rarest and most fabulous match striker we have seen must be this unique one featuring Lord Kitchener.

The transfer is an old version of Kitchener one encounters on the earliest memorabilia items featuring the British Victorian hero. It could very well be that it was made in 1898 when he grabbed all the headlines as the British general who defeated the Muslim armies defending Khartoum, at the Battle of Omdurman in the Sudan.

This match striker has no other embellishments on the other sides, and bears no marks on the bottom. It is in perfect shape with no chips or crazing, like found on so many of the others made by Raphael Tuck and J Macintyre.

This was never used for its intended purpose but kept as a memento, probably by a British soldier who served in the Sudanese campaigns or the Boer War, and brought to Canada, when the wars were over, to settle in peace.

Many medals and memorabilia items ended up in Canada from veterans who immigrated here, after the wars. Only able to bring their most precious items, their wives brought their doilies, the men their medals, busts and plates of their former military commanders.

Lord Roberts - 1900

Another fabulous, and relatively rare, match striker featuring Lord Roberts, Commander-in-Chief of the British Armies in South Africa, a position he only held between Dec. 1899 till Dec. 1900. He succeeded General Buller, below right, and was followed, in turn, by Lord Kitchener, below left. This is useful to know for dating memorabilia items featuring the generals.

The Kitchener and Buller transfer is on the opposite side to Bobs.

Spanish American War - 1898

Americans had their own war, for a few months in 1898, with Spain over Cuba and the Philippines. They issued match strikers which were decidedly different from those favoured by British manufacturers who opted for heavy and rugged chunks of ceramic for use by men in places were sobriety was a rare commodity.

Left is a fragile American match striker, a tiny ceramic lidded box in which the matches were kept. It was a bit more cumbersome than the British version because you had to remove the dainty lid - featuring the US and Cuban flags - to get at the matches.

The striker, of ceramic ribbing, was provided under the lid.

You always needed two hands for this operation. And after you lit the match - regardless of the state of your well-being - you had to place the lid - carefully - back on top of the box...

Is it any wonder that this match striker has a huge crack running all along the bottom and up the side.


Top and bottom views of "The Army" Wileman Foley match strikers.

This model had a special ribbed ring around the top to make it easier to light the match with one strike. Most other match strikers offered only the smooth sides for striking so several raps would often be needed, so degrading the transfers that would be there.

Unlike other match strikers, these Wileman Foley models were made with a hollowed out bottom left., and a firing hole.

Death or Glory - 1900

This German match striker, made by Ernst Bohne Sons, Rudolphstadt Thuringia, dates from the Boer War era, and was probably extremely popular among soldiers of all countries, who loved to shock civilians and each other.

But it wasn't only Germans who loved flashing skulls around.

The silver cigar holder above, belonged to a Boer War era British Lancer. He popped up the cranium to offer a choice - of very dried up cigars... Or he was a fast and furious smoker.

The British 17th and 21st Lancers, after World War II, still sported the "Death or Glory" cap badge above on their caps. When the lancers were amalgamated into tank units, the morbid skull and bones were kept and are still worn today by armoured men who love to go home and scare their babies into behaving, though, reportedly, it does not work so well on Iraquis.

This fabulously realistic match striker, has the rubbing striker on the rear. But lest you think this is large it is only 5cm high!

RD - Registered Numbers
1884 - 1

1885 - 19756

1886 - 40480

1887 - 64520

1888 - 90483

1889 - 116648

1890 - 141273

1891- 163767

1892 - 185713

1893 - 205240

1894 - 224720

1895 - 246975

1896 - 268392

1897 - 291241

1898 - 311658

1899 - 331707

1900 - 351202

1901 - 368154

1902 - 385180

1903 - 403200

1904 - 424400

1905 - 447800

1906 - 471860

1907 - 493900


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