The August 1908 issue of Votes for Women, house magazine of the Women’s Social and Political Union describes ‘the latest novelty in the Union colours – a special belt and buckle, which is being sold at half-a-crown each’.
The buckle is cast in relief with The
Haunted House, a David Wilson cartoon in the Daily
Chronicle the previous year depicting a female ghost holding a
Votes For Women ballot box hovering over the Houses of
Today these are very rare - the local buyer
whose family has been collecting Suffrage pieces for 50 years had
never seen one before until this example was offered at
Clevedon Salerooms' (19% buyer's premium)on
It retained its original belt in the WSPU
colours and was accompanied by a Suffragette sash that alone could
make a four-figure price (one sold at Stacey's in Essex for £1250
in March 2011).
The £400-600 estimate at the Somerset rooms
always looked conservative and the specialist collector had to go
to £3400 to secure the lot.
A more familiar Suffragette collectable is
the Doulton stoneware inkwell entitled The Virago, one of
which was seen at Biddle & Webb (17.5% buyer's
premium) in Birmingham on September 13.
This 2½in (8.5cm) model of a robust woman
standing with folded arms wearing an apron embossed with the slogan
Votes for Women, was one of two figures (the other similar
with the head of an infant known as Baby)registered
by Royal Doulton c.1909 when the WSPU were taking their most
radical and militant action.
The less-than-flattering portrayal of the
subject has led Doulton historians to speculate on modeller Leslie
Harradine's attitude to women's suffrage.
The market for these pieces appears a
little softer now than a few years ago when The
Virago could make more than £500 - even with the damage often
seen to the hinges.
This one, in relatively good condition, took £360 against an
estimate of £200-300.