Needs Must – Time to start selling.

After some soul searching and realisation that money doesn’t grow on trees, I have decided to start selling some of the items I have collected over the last couple of years so I can buy more pieces. I am going to start small and get bigger.

The first items are an RAF mess Fork and spoon. Both have lovely AM and crown motifs stamped on the shaft and are also both date stamped 1940. The spoon was produced by Mappin and Webb and the Fork by P.Bros.S.Ltd. Both pieces are in good used condition.

I would like £10 for the pair. If anyone is interested in purchasing please just e mail me on this site or to my e mail, andynrea@hotmail.com

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Where on Earth am I going to put this? RAF station Bell

Whilst on my field break from work I found myself trawling auction sites as you do, and stumbled upon this Bell and 3 of its brothers and sisters at http://www.dominicwinter.co.uk the auctioneers. Air Ministry Bells come up frequently on e bay but always fetch a huge price, that sadly due to wedding savings duty I can never afford from month to month. I am by no means an expert on these, that responsibility I would pass to someone like David Farnsworth at the historic flying clothing Company who has been dealing in these for decades, but I have noticed a few styles of bell that were used. The typical ‘scramble’ bell as it has become known due to Battle of Britain films usually has a crown structure built on top which is a common feature in bells that allows them to be hung in church steeples. Some don’t have this crown, instead having a bold and screw combination on top. The markings on the bells also vary, with some having a simple AM marking to large ornate AM and crowns engraved into the bell face. Anyway, seeing this bell in the auction catalogue thought what the hec and placed an absentee bid. The one I bid on has a screw threat and bolt on top and comes with the bracket it was hung off. There were two others that had the crown hanger on top. These had been polished and chromed too. Thinking they would fetch more than I could afford and not able to tell if they were fakes, I didn’t bid on them. I was right! But surprisingly I won the one I did bid on. The parcel containing it has just arrived at my girlfriends mums house back in the UK, so I’m looking forward to popping over after xmas. Lord only knows where I am going to keep this beast though. Below are some snaps the auctioneer sent me of the bell.

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The Chairs that started it all.

I was looking through my photo albums on the ipad today and I came across some pictures I took of the first Air Ministry item of furniture I bought. This was the chair that got me hooked on the history and background of old furniture from the RAF. I purchased this chair and a further 7 just like it from a young lad in Bromley, London who had bought them from the Air Cadets at Biggin Hill. Seeing these on his blog I was a little dubious as to their history as items from Biggin Hill often appear on the interweb which are nothing but fakes or telling porkies about their past. By putting ‘Biggin Hills’ good name to items inflates many an items value. But after some enquiries they turned out to be just what he described them as. From the cadets at Biggin Hill. They had been gifted them by the station when it closed down and in order to make space they subsequently sold them on. Anyway. After getting the chairs home, I set about repairing them. Most of them were far from immaculate and the years had not treated them well. Much of the Vynide coverings on them had been torn, ripped and damaged so I took the decision to strip all but two – which are still ok – to restore them, keeping as much of the original parts as possible. Vynide is no longer made as a covering but I have found a company that still makes the exact material, just not with all the nasty chemicals in. On stripping them down I also came accross the AM marking stamped into the frame. And so began my fascination! All the chairs have this stamping and 1944 date inked on. The chairs were produced by the Scottish Co-operative wholesale society.

I am currently waiting on a re-upholsterer to start work to restore them to their former glory. All the spring bodies are in good order and will be re-used with only fabric coverings and padding etc being replaced. I even kept all the original tacks to hopefully salvage some of them for re-use.

Anyway here are some snaps.q apologies for the scruffy house in the background!

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Tick Tock Tick Tock!

Whilst perusing google images for all things Air Ministry whilst the good lady was at work, I came across a tiny image of a small mantel clock that I had not seen before. Clicking on it up popped a link with a clock for sale from http://www.seaside-gallery.co.uk. I took a punt and e mailed to see if the clock was still for sale and to my shock, it was. Up until now every clock I have found on the inter web has been sold. After a quick conversation with the owner, John Churchill I reserved the clock and after planning a christmas shopping trip to the UK, myself and the good lady swung by Bexhill to collect the clock. Safe to say I am rather chuffed with the purchase. My interest in getting a clock started when I saw a couple (sadly not for sale) whilst collecting my washbasin (see earlier post) from David Farnsworth at the historic flying clothing company. After getting home I did some research and came across a book by Bob Gardner called ‘a history of clocks in the RAF’. After some swatting up and realisation that the market place is full of knock offs I started to tread carefully. After sending some snaps to Bob Gardner he didnt raise any concerns and added the serial number of the clock to his database, so I took a plunge and purchased it.

This clock was produced by Stockall Marples and Co in 1939. SM&Co produced a batch of small mantel clocks in 1938 that ran until 1939. That run ended with clock number 11379. There was another couple of smaller runs then a large final batch from clock numbers 12734 to 12781. As Bob Gardner notes in his book, no more mantel clocks were produced SM&Co for the RAF after this date. My clock has the serial number 12755. The clock retains its pendulum lock as can be seen in the pictures. Elliot, another company that produced small mantel clocks for the RAF, ceased fitting these after 1935. The serial number, date and AM crown are all nicely engraved into the movement case. There is also an ‘M’ and crown stamped on the lip of the door aperture at the back. Presumably it was made by an AM stamp, but the whole logo couldn’t be fitted on the thin lip. (See pictures). Also on the base is stamped SM&Co and 1939 and AM. The dial is still in good condition and the correct hands are present. All in all a lovely clock that I feel privileged to own and cherish.

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