1914 at Spink - A Centenary Exhibition

1914 at Spink - A Centenary Exhibition Sep 05 2014

Our exhibition concentrates on the tumultous first five months of the Great War, from August through to December 1914. The exhibits tell the story of how the war began to evolve on land, at sea, in the air and at home. Using items in which  Spink specialises, both loaned and some for sale, this unique perspective offers the visitor an insight into military events, told through military and commemorative medals, to the financing of the war through banknotes and other financial instruments, to propaganda, and the role of women.

1914 saw dramatic changes in how this and future wars would be fought; the beginnings of total warfare involving civilians at home as well as servicemen on the frontline. The rise of technologies that rendered traditional ideas and strategies defunct; the aeroplane, the submarine, the use of artillery are just some examples covered in the exhibition. Finally  culminating at the end of 1914 in the stalemate of the trenches in France and Belgium that we associate with World War One.

Whether your interest is fired by military bravery, new and up to then uncharted economic and financial waters, the extensive use of propaganda, the underwater menace of U-boats, the killing power of machine guns, the gallant service of women nurses and volunteer drivers, the "invasion" of the homeland through naval shelling and Zeppelin bombing - you will find it all here.

The exhibition will be held in the Main Showroom at Spink in London from the 8th  September - 12th September and the 15th September - 20th September, 10am to 5pm.

Submarine Warfare - U9

This relatively new form of warfare was embraced by the German Navy and the first ever submarine patrol left Heligoland in August 1914 with the express purpose of sinking British warships - to reduce the British superiority in numbers. It was the second patrol, however, that achieved considerable success - on 22nd September U-9 commanded by Kapitanleutnant Otto Weddigen found and sank three British armoured cruisers in less than an hour with minimal torpedoes; HMS Aboukir, Hogue and Cressy. Some 1,459 British sailors died. The action itself remains one of the most notable submarine actions of all time.

For one 15 year old cadet, 'Kit' Wykeham-Musgrave, it was a memorable day. Aboard HMS Aboukir, when it was torpedoed by U9, he dived overboard and swam to HMS Hogue, where he was picked up, only to be in the sea again within a short time as she too was hit by torpedoes from U9. Swimming across to HMS Cressy, which had also slowed to pick up survivors, he was on board when she became U9's third victim that day. In the water again he was finally rescued by a Dutch trawler and subsequently lived to the ripe old age of 90 years.


Ludwig III King of Bavaria

Bavaria as one of the premier States within the new Germany maintained a certain degree of military sovereignty, composing the German 6th Army under Crown Prince Ruprecht of Bavaria. It had its own general staff and staff college.

King Ludwig tried to offset the influence of Prussia in the new Germany as well as attempting to add territory to Bavaria; he wanted to annex Alsace and the City of Antwerp giving access to the sea as the Bavarians took part in the Battle of the Frontiers in 1914.

An unpopular monarch he was forced to flee Bavaria in November 1918 when revolution broke out and a Republic was briefly established. He later returned and remained in Munich until his death in 1921.


Pat Beauchamp Washington (nee Waddell) and the FANYs

Marguerite Pat Beauchamp Waddell was one of the original pre-war FANYs, joining in 1913, when she trained in cavalry work, signalling and camping out as well as basic nursing duties.

Founded in 1907 following experience in the Boer War, the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry was formed to enable first aiders to reach the wounded where ambulance waggons would be far too slow or cumbersome. When the First World War broke out it soon became obvious the  original premise was impractical and motorised ambulances were introduced almost immediately. FANYs were expected to both maintain and to keep the motors running on their ambulances - every individual ambulance was given its own name and character - Pat called her charges,  "Little Willie" after Kaiser Wilhelm, and another "Daisy".

Due to having to pay a stipend monthly and to provide their own uniforms and horses, the FANYs were largely composed of the wealthy upper classes. Pat joined as one of 18 in the  first ambulance unit for as she put it:

" … the glorious opportunity to have some riding and at the same time be of use …"

The FANYs did not accompany the BEF into France in 1914 as officialdom was not keen to have women so near the front lines. Not to be daunted the FANYs offered, and were accepted, by both the Belgian and French Armies. Pat found herself after training attached initially to the Belgian Army along the Yser Front. It was not until late 1916 that the FANYs were allowed to work alongside British forces. Entertaining both themselves and the troops became a way of relaxation from the daily horrors they experienced. In Pat's case she was a member of the "Kippers".

Duties varied from driving the wounded back from forward dressing stations to hospitals in the rear, to delivering clothing right up to the front lines. It was a hazardous occupation.

After the War Pat wrote of her experiences in a published work, "Fanny Goes to War", which has become a classic of women at war. Perhaps this quote gives some idea of the daily horrors she experienced:

"The sight was one I shall never forget but find it almost impossible to describe. Four men had been blown to pieces on that road and it gave me an intense shock to realise a few minutes earlier those remains had been living men walking along the road laughing and talking. I felt suddenly sick and tried to look away, but everywhere there was blood and worse"

In addition to the nightmare of driving through roads littered with the bodies of men and horses, Pat experienced Zeppelin bombing raids and nursing men with horrific wounds.

As well as dealing with the daily grind of warfare the FANYs found time to rent a bathing chalet on the beach at Calais, mount entertainments and eat out on the town whenever they could.

In 1917 Pat's ambulance was in a collision with a train and she lost a part of her leg, which resulted in her being invalided back to England. Undaunted she was with the FANYs between the wars and in WW2 having been refused active duty with the British Army due to her disability, she joined the Polish forces and retreated with them in 1939 to Southern France.



This unit of the French Foreign Legion was composed of mainly Italians formed in 1914 and lasting until 1915 when it disbanded due to Italy's entry into the war. The unit was part of the French offensive along a long front of entrenched German defences in the Champagne Region. They took part specifically in the Argonne sector during the Battle around the Bois du Bolande on the 26th December 1914.

Siege of Antwerp                                        

After the fall of the forts at Liege, the Belgian forces were ordered to join those around the "National Redoubt" at Antwerp, creating an army of some 140,000 defenders. The series of 48 forts could not be ignored by the Germans and although originally they intended to bypass Antwerp, sorties made in late August and early September on their flanks (partly to release pressure on the British at Mons and French at Charleroi), changed their plans.
Von Moltke laid down plans to begin on 9th September, but events on the Marne delayed the offensive as the German Army began a partial retreat after the battle there.

Finally on 28th September the German bombardment, using 173 heavy guns, including the enormous 420mm Big Bertha, began. Worried that the City would fall the British despatched a force, but it arrived too late and the City formally surrendered on 10th October.


About Spink:

Spink is the world's leading auctioneer of stamps, coins, banknotes, medals, bonds & shares, autographs, books and wine.  Since its foundation in 1666, the Spink name has become synonymous with tradition, experience and integrity. Holder of royal warrants and numerous records for prices achieved at auction, Spink offers an unparalleled range of services to collectors worldwide.  Headquartered in London, with offices in New York, Switzerland, Hong Kong and Singapore, Spink holds over 70 auctions a year.  Catalogues can be accessed through the Spink website (www.spink.com) or via the Spink App for  iPhone and iPad.

For more information, please contact:

Tim Robson
Tel: +44 (0)20 7563 4007

Fax: +44 (0)20 7563 4006

Email: trobson@spink.com