Boer War Page 12a

All About Boer War Bugles 2

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Henry Burr (1885-1941): "Where is My Wandering Boy Tonight" 1918 - Verse 3

You are listening to an original recording from the early 1900s featuring one of Canada's very first recording artists, Henry Burr, singing our television program's theme song, "Where is My Wandering Boy Tonight." Henry Burr from New Brunswick, started recording in 1902 while in his teens, and, with some 12,000 recordings to his credit, was the most prolific recording artist of his generation. (Verse 1 Page 6, Verse 2 Page 7, Verse 3 Page 8)

(You can hear these earliest Canadian recordings on our program's soundtrack. Details on our Music Page)

Those Faking Bugles - Bugles 5

1 3 5 7 9 11
2 4 6 8 10 12


We recently received emails about a crop of Boer War bugles that have sprouted up......... that should serve as a warning to all of us that, when buying militaria:


For the first time in years, Boer War bugles are suddenly cropping up. Within a day of each other, two supposed Boer War Bugles appeared on ebay - one genuine, the other bogus???? You decide... It offers a good lesson to anyone dealing in militaria to be watchful of antique dealers who will say anything to beguile the unwary into paying enormous sums for items that are not at all what antique sellers say they are.


A Boer War bugle is, by our definition, a bugle which actually traveled to South Africa, with a recognized regiment , and was used in the field over there. And the information must be stamped, or engraved in some way on the bugle. Otherwise, you have no protection from unscrupulous people who will say anything to make a sale..... Also, the written historical record must support the inscription information. If either of these is missing, then you have at best a Boer War "Era" Bugle, perhaps from Tennessee, (one of hundreds) but definitely not Boer War Bugle (one of very few.)

Another Rare Boer War Bugle 
Another Real Boer War Bugle is on ebay at present. It has all the necessary inscriptions that certify this as a bugle which took part in the Boer War while in the possession of a regiment that served in South Africa. The relevant information is molded into the bugle. It is certifiably no fake but one of a kind. The regiment and its service record in South Africa tally with the inscription. It is a Boer War bugle because it was certifiably there... It would be nice to know more. Who used it? What battles did it take part in? But the bugle says nothing about these questions.... Still a wonderful souvenir that hopefully finds a good home...


RARE ~ Boer War ~ BUGLE ~ South Africa 1900 ~02
"a rare brass and copper bugle from the boer war. Bugle measures 11" and has a nice patina to both the brass and copper. On the bugle are brass plaques saying LONDON and above that is the name G. Byre above that is South Africa 1900 - 02......23rd bn "The London Reg" above that is a crown. Inside the horn is a plate with "BEATENSON" There are some small dents consistant with 100 year age, overall condition is excellent.



This is a wonderful, genuine Crimean War Bugle. Note the Balaclava battle bar affixed to the bugle because the regimental bugler was proud of where he went and what he did with this bugle. The Battle of Balaclava was were the charge of the Light Brigade took place. The bar suggests that the bugle may have been there. There is also a Victoria Cross bar affixed. The Crimean War is where the Victoria Cross, the British Empire's highest award for valor was begun. The VC was cast from captured Russian cannons melted down to make the medals. Was this bugle involved in Victoria Cross action. You could make an extremely good case that it was. 

Testing a Bogus Boer War Bugle ?????

Rare Boer War Bugle-QOR Cdn Estate Find
Offered is an outstanding and intact BOER WAR BUGLE from a third Generation estate in Burlington , Ontario Canada. Masking tape on the inside reads " 2nd Battalion- Queen's Own rifles " ....The maker reads Henry Potter and Co. 30 Charring Cross  London......Dated or number marked " 12.95 " .....3.... " 2.13 " . there are no other markings. The mouthpiece is original. Original PATINA that should never be polished off !!!!! A very nice OLD copper repair on the top as typical for these bugles. A Rare Queens Own Rifle Piece Piece that may have well seen Victoria Cross action !!!

Now Run the Boer War Bugle Test

The Queen's Broad Arrow
The seller does not mention that the bugle has the broad arrow that all items used by the British army (swords, bayonets, canteens, wagons, ammo boxes, etc.) were stamped with. If it does not have the broad arrow, then the bugle was not used by the military... unless supported by other inscribed information. Even if it has the broad arrow, it doesn't make it a Boer War Bugle. Many hundreds of bugles exist, that had the broad arrow and never saw action in South Africa.....

"Outstanding and Intact" ???
In what way? Because it is more beaten up than the vast majority of bugles on ebay??? And it is definitely missing  a key item, the chain the once held the original mouthpiece in place.

We own an identical Henry Potter & Co.,  30 Charring Cross London, bugle with the same 1895 manufacturing date. There are probably scores of others around - maybe hundreds.... Ours even has the original bugle cords. But it is in much better shape, with chain and original mouthpiece, similar to the other above real Boer War Bugles. These were precious items. Proud owners did not let their valuable mementoes get kicked to pieces. 

"Boer War Bugle"??
The seller does not mention a single inscription, plaque, crest of any kind !!!! certifying that this bugle deserves Boer War status. Not a single solitary piece of evidence that this bugle is from the Boer War.....Just a motivated seller's say so ...... In fact, like my own Henry Potter of 1895, it is at best, a Boer War "ERA" bugle, one of many hundreds made in the 1890s that never saw South Africa, let alone a battle or action !!!!!

Masking Tape Certification
A paper stuck in with Scotch Tape is not proof of anything 100 years later. The London Regiment bugle above shows the typical way that real regimental bugles were inscribed or plaqued.  Would the QOR or any other regiment, have labeled their battle bugle with masking tape?????

"There are no other markings..."
Enough said..... One only marks special bugles (like ones taken to the Boer War) and one does not mark those that are not those left at home....

"Estate Sale" !!!
All bugles come from estate sales. All the above bugles and others I own come from estates. That does not make them Boer War or any other kind of war.....

"Rare Queen's Own Rifle Piece"
What does the QOR have to do with the Boer War ??? Exactly nothing..... The QOR was a Canadian militia unit. It never left Canadian soil during the Boer War. The unit never served in the Boer War. All Canadian units that fought in the Boer War were volunteer units recruited from civvy street and were formed into specially created units which had not existed before. If this ever was a QOR bugle, and unlike the above bugles there are no plates, plaques, crests or inscriptions to prove it was QOR, it no more went to Africa, than did the unit to which it is claimed to have belonged. If in fact it is QOR, that is definite proof that it did not go the Boer War....Like the QOR to which it is claimed to belong, it would have been left at home like the QOR itself was....

"original mouthpiece"
How does an antique seller know this? The mouthpiece safety chain that is present in the other bugles confirms that they have the original mouthpieces on them. The safety chain on this bugle is long gone, and so probably is the original mouthpiece on this one. (Compare the bugle mouthpieces on the pics above.... Which mouthpiece looks like it came with the bugle ?????? ) Many bugles are sold without any mouthpieces for this reason. Kids tear them apart, loose the chain, and then the mouthpiece..... Antique sellers then scrounge for a mouthpiece somewhere to make the bugle more salable. No one can say, let alone prove, that the mouthpiece on this bugle is original. 

"that may well have seen Victoria Cross Action"
Some unscrupulous sellers will stop at nothing.

Any military history book will certify that the QOR did not serve in Africa during the Boer War.... And that no member of the QOR ever received a Victoria Cross in Africa....How could a QOR person or bugle therefore have seen Victoria Cross action??? The mind boggles, but a great sales idea !!!! 

Canada won four Victoria Crosses during the Boer War. The first was won by a British born member of Lord Strathcona's Horse, who were mostly drawn from Western Canada, not Ontario. Three VCs went to the Royal Canadian Dragoons. The Strathconas, and the RCD won the four VCs,  no other regiment -and certainly not the QOR... 

If this is a QOR bugle how would it accompany any of these four non-Ontario, non-QORs into VC action????

"Part of a Lot Which Included A Boer War Helmet"
The ebay ad originally maintained that this Boer War Bugle was found as part of a lot which contained a Boer War sun helmet which went to another buyer........

This is patently false. We were at the auction where this bugle was sold to the antique salesman, who is not a Boer War or militaria specialist. The auctioneer did not refer to that helmet as Boer War or a British helmet of any kind. In fact it can best be described as a see-through, beekeepers cork-type helmet from the 1950s which was on the same table as the bugle, some swords, knives, and bayonets.....  Of the thousands of Boer War photos I have seen not one represented a headdress that remotely resembles this hat. The claim merely underlines that this dealer hasn't got a clue about Boer War era militaria, and has no scruples at all about making the wildest, most absurd claims to close a sale.

The auctioneer also did not announce this as a "Boer War bugle" or anything of the sort. He called it an "old bugle" which was the only information he had on it.  The bugle's fabulous life history now posted on ebay, is sheer invention by the antique dealer who bought it.

We have all come across salesman with a weak product who try to raise its value by associating it with real valuable items, (part of a lot....), warlike events (VC action...), none of which conveniently of course, a buyer cannot verify.......

Beaten Up and Repaired
Salesmen on ebay are forever trying to portray beaten up bugles, swords, canteens, etc. as evidence of battle injuries and bullet damage. It's an old con, which most do tongue in cheek, hoping to rope in keen but unwary victims.....

As a matter of fact, none of the real Boer War Bugles I have seen, are beaten up. It's obvious why.... These were precious items to their owners who specifically kept them out of the destructive hands of kids who wanted to play war games. Regimental bugles were protected in museums. Veterans kept theirs in trunks. But the hundreds of other bugles were routinely given to kids to play with and they lost their safety chains, their mouthpieces, had their bells ripped and had scores of dents pounded into them through the years. 

Precious bugles, Real Boer War Bugles, were treasured and protected. What regiment would allow its battle honoured bugle to be thrown around.  That is why a  bugle in good condition (like ours, and the real regimental Boer War bugle above) is one which is much more likely to have been in war than one which is beaten up. But then salesmen have to figure out good lines to use to sell beaten up product......

Simply shocking isn't it????Good Inventive Salesmanship!!!!!! 
A classic example of what happens to historical memorabilia that gets into the hands of unscrupulous and uninformed salesmen. In comparison to the other two bugles:

this bugle fails every test for a Real or Rare Boer War Bugle .....

What then is this bugle really??? 
From the evidence provided by the seller on ebay,  the best one can say about this bugle is that:
It was made by Henry Potter in 1895 in England. Period.  Like hundreds of similar bugles that have been sold on ebay there are no other inscriptions or writing on it whatsoever.... It is a mute bugle.....

But it does offer one other clue. It's condition. It speaks loudly about a life of gross abuse, that is has been woefully treated for most of its life by people who didn't think it was anything special, like for example A Real Boer War Bugle... So they gave it to kids, explaining its torn and beaten condition...... It is more likely a Children's War Play Bugle....

It may very well  have spent it's life in Tucson Arizona or Surrey, in UK, or Ceylon, or India, or Australia.... Someone in Burlington, Ontario probably bought it at a yard sale in Toronto, or a trip in England. Where it spent it's life is pure and simple speculation on anybody's part. The only thing certain is that it was DEFINITELY NOT IN THE BOER WAR. Simply compare the way a REAL BOER WAR BUGLE WAS PROUDLY AND LOUDLY PERMANENTLY INSCRIBED BECAUSE IT SAW SERVICE IN THE BOER WAR, with the TOTAL LACK OF ANY INSCRIPTION OF ANY KIND on this ravaged yard sale bugle.

Perhaps you can make a lamp from it.... or a spittoon.... or give it to kids so a new generation can play with it....



c Goldi Productions Ltd. 1996 & 2000