Thursday, 5 January 2017

Souvenirs for the Great War ......... stories behind the book nu 23

An occasional series on the stories behind the new book, Manchester Remembering 1914-18*

I wonder who bought those porcelain figures which were manufactured as souvenirs for the Great War.

They were turned out in their thousands ranging from replica tanks, lorries and field ambulances to ships and later imitation war memorials.

And to further add to the potential sales they were issued with the coats of arms of different cities and towns offering the people of Manchester, London and Southport a unique souvenir.

Some including a tank and HMS Manchester appear in the book along with a description of how the porcelain companies that made them had effortlessly switched from models of Blackpool Tower, the Great Orme and Big Ben to war time themes.

Many of the ones I have seen come from the collection of David Harrop who turned up this interesting example yesterday of a bull dog in his kennel.

He tells me that cats on postboxes were equally popular but this one is rather special given that my uncle served in the Black Watch at the end of the Great War.

I have no idea if one of these made their way to my grandparent’s home in Gateshead or if similar ones bearing the coats of arms of Derby, and Gravesend were ever bought by other members of the family.

And I am now on the lookout for examples from the Canadian Expeditionary Force because in 1915 one of my great uncles who been migrated to Canada as a British Home Child, enlisted and ended up on the Western Front.

I doubt he would have bothered with such a thing but it would be interesting to compare the souvenirs and reflect on just how such objects were marketed and the role they played.

Some of them have already appeared on the blog and can be found by following the link.**

Which just leaves me to point out that the book will be published on February 2 and the book launch will be on Saturday February 18 at Central Reference Library in Manchester.

Along with me, a shed load of books there will be a folk group, some military rein actors and a guest appearance from David Harrop who sourced most of the memorabilia for the book and who will be bringing along some of the items featured in Manchester Remembering 1914-18.

Location; the Great War

Pictures; souvenir porcelain figure, date unknown, from the collection of David Harrop

*Manchester Remembering 1914-18 by Andrew Simpson will be published by the History Press in February 2017

Order now from the History Press, or Chorlton Book Shop, 0161 881 6374

**A new book on Manchester and the Great War

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