I explained that such jewellery would have had no association with the suffragette movement, the colours were merely harmonious and fashionable, which was, indeed, why they had been chosen by the Women’s Social and Political Union as their ‘brand’.
This practice is still rampant in the trade and buyers may well be paying a premium for a spurious association. Ah well, caveat emptor.
However, I am now increasingly worried by the number of entirely fake suffragette objects that are passing through British auction houses. eBay has long permitted the peddling of these monstrosities but I do think auction houses jealous of their reputation should do more to resist selling such items.
Fake ‘suffragette’ flags, watches, car badges, defaced coins, and woven cloth badges are among the latest items to appear on the market.
Having specialised in suffrage ephemera – as an historian and a dealer – for over 35 years I can assure the trade that most of these objects never even existed in the ‘suffragette’ years and are now being dreamed up – and manufactured - by unscrupulous sellers, while others are modern copies.
My fear is that such objects will end up in public collections; indeed, I know this to have happened. If the institution is made aware of its mistake and removes the object from display, it has lost money; if the object passes into the collection unchallenged, it is legitimising a fiction.
I would ask auction houses to think carefully – and even consult an expert – when offered ‘suffragette items’ for sale.
At the very least, if they must sell them, at least include in the description some element of doubt as to authenticity.