Boer War Page 17

Boer War Memorabilia Part 4

Henry Burr (1885-1941): "Darling Nellie Gray" 1920

You are listening to an original recording from the early 1900s featuring one of Canada's very first recording artists, Henry Burr, singing one of the most popular songs of the time, "Darling Nellie Gray." 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. This song had an extremely singable tune and an overtone of sad longing for Canadian soldiers who spent a month at sea going to distant South Africa. Nellie, of course, was Dolly's sister.

Technical Note: To turn off this recording, use a hammer on the front of your monitor.

Guess What?

Can you guess what this item is? It is one of the most unique and rare Boer War memorabilia items to be found. This item is only 2 3/4" high by 3 1/2" inches wide and is unusually heavy, being completely solid except for the shallow hole at the top. It is in rare good condition because heavy use disfigured the picture of many of those that still survive.

You can tell it it Boer War by the unique soldier portrait with which it is adorned, "A Gentleman in Kharki" standing stalwart against the foe, with his head bandaged. This motif was put on plates, cups, pictures, silks, etc. (See below of one on a Stevengraph.)

The picture was drawn by Caton-Woodville, a famous artist in late Victorian, and Edwardian England, who drew many battle scenes during the Anglo-Boer War. The soldier and drawing were inspired by Rudyard Kipling - the most renowned writer of the English language at the turn of the century - who had written a poem "The Absent-minded Beggar" in honour of the common British soldier, slogging through the daily grind of a terrible war with few thanks from anyone. His poem was used to rouse the public to raise funds to help the wounded and the widows in the aftermath of battles.

The poem was often printed on kerchiefs and plates and on the back of this unique ceramic item. Note: the old spelling of "kharki."

Note also the crazing, the tiny harline cracks that one often finds in varying degrees on old china, caused by variations in heat effecting the glaze during the passing decades.

Still can't identify it?

In fact it is a match striker. Matches would be jammed into the hole on top and smokers would grab one and "strike" the side of the "bowl." Hence it had to be heavy, and explains why the surface on many are often defaced from hundreds of strikings.

c Goldi Productions Ltd. 1996 & 2000