Monday - 24 November 2014

Poppy from 1916 is poignant survivor

19 December 2013Written by ATG Reporter

Picked from a trench in 1916, a poppy which is thought to be the only surviving example from the First World War sold for £5200 at Duke’s of Dorchester earlier this month.

Though faded, the poppy was still in good condition, having been preserved in an acrylic block since 2011 when it was included in a special exhibition staged by the Royal British Legion.

It was picked by Private Cecil Roughton at a front-line trench in Arras, Northern France, when he was only 17. Pressed carefully so that the flower, stem and leaves remained intact, Roughton later taped the poppy to a page in an autograph book belonging to the vendor's mother, Miss Joan Banton.

She was a neighbour and young admirer of the dashing Pte Roughton who survived the horrors of the Great War.

Roughton gave it to her in 1923 when she was a young girl, writing on the bottom of the page Souvenir from a front line trench near Arras, May 1916. It wasn't until 1921 that the poppy was officially adopted as a symbol of remembrance in Britain by Field Marshal Douglas Haig.

As expected, with an estimate of £500-1000 for the sale on December 6, the poppy attracted great interest from those in the military and several public institutions who wished to acquire it for special exhibitions in the centenary year 2014.

After a battle between a phone and a commission bidder, it was bought by jewellery dealers Hancocks, the Burlington Arcade firm who still hold the royal warrant to make the highest military bravery award, the Victoria Cross.

The buyer's premium was 22%.

Antiques Trade Gazette is the weekly bible of the fine art and antiques industry. Read articles like this every week in the Antiques Trade Gazette or ATG app. Click here to subscribe today.

Back to top