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Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Pitcher, Crimean War - 1856
Orig. pitcher - Size - 26 cm
Found - Halifax, NS
Signed E Ridgway & Abington, Hanley August 1, 1856
This is a superb example, not only of a historic memorabilia pitcher but of the fine art of the relief moulded jug.

The true relief moulded jug emerged in the 1830s as a distinct art form, being made by pressing wet clay into a mould (as opposed to throwing it on a wheel or modeling it by hand.) William Ridgway of Hanley was the first and most important maker of these jugs, mostly in tan stoneware, registering his first pattern on October 1, 1835 with a trademark similar to the one on this jug.

They were called relief moulded because a raised pattern or decoration was either, included in the original press mould, or applied afterwards to give the surface a 3D look. In all cases the handles were pressed separately and applied.

Many other makers made thousands of these relief moulded jugs in many patterns and colours. Since they were designed to be used as water, beer or milk pitchers in homes and pubs, breakage was enormous. So ones in mint condition, as this one is, are rare treasures indeed.

Pitcher or Jug? The two words are used interchangeable by many people to denote a liquid pouring container with a handle and spout. More correctly, a jug has a very narrow neck, often with a plug; a pitcher has a broader open mouth, which, as it gets narrower, evolves into a jug... Small pitchers are called creamers.

Relief Moulded Pitcher, Crimean War - 1856

The Crimean War (1854-1856) The Crimean War, often considered the first modern war, was fought principally in the Crimean Peninsula, which juts into the northern end of the Black Sea, and was part of the Russian Empire.

The war came about because of the jockeying for power in the Middle East, principally by Russia, France, and Britain, as the Turkish Ottoman Empire - the Sick Man of Europe - was falling into decay. Each of the vultures sought to be first to pick at the corpse by getting the Sultan to grant them special concessions in the Holy Land, where the Turks, who were Muslims, were somewhat disinterested landlords over various Christian churches (Catholics, Copts, Protestants, Russian Orthodox and Greek Orthodox, etc) quarreling over who should own which part of the ground where Jesus walked.

The Catholic Emperor Napoleon III of France made the first move, by moving a warship into the Black Sea, impressing the Sultan who declared him "supreme authority" over the Christian places in the Holy Land, and gave him the keys to the Church of the Nativity in Jerusalem. The Russians became upset at this intrusion in their front yard and the new imbalance of power as they did not want the Orthodox Church to be downgraded in influence by the Catholic upstart. Sabre rattling ensued as Britain, Austria, and Prussia also stepped in to take sides.

The Sultan of Turkey was helplessly muscled this way and that, granting concessions to France, then to Russia, then retracting agreements as the European demands soon escalated to include battleship access through Turkish straits to the Black Sea (Britain), and to the Mediterranean ( for Russia's Black Sea Fleet), and political power over distant decaying provinces of Turkey (Russia.)

Discussions among the principal powers just aggravated the situation and went nowhere. Taking advantage of the disarray, and believing he could get away with it, Tsar Nicholas I sent his armies to occupy the Turkish provinces adjoining Russia (July 1853.)

An upset Turkey declared war and had her fleet destroyed by the Russians in the Black Sea at Sinope (Nov. 30, 1853). Britain and France were alarmed at Russia's push into spheres of influence they each wanted. They issued an ultimatum, making strong demands which Russia refused to meet.

The war began (March 1854), essentially three against one, focusing on neutralizing the Russian Black Sea Fleet in its home port of Sebastopol in the Crimea.

The three Allied armies represented on the jug, surrounded and besieged Sebastopol (Sep. 25, 1854-Sep. 8, 1855), the northern pincer landing and forcing the Russians to retreat inside the city at the Battle of the Alma. (Sep. 20, 1854). The landing by the southern pincer triggered a Russian offensive held off by the Allies at the Battle of Balaklava, (Oct. 25, 1854) with the Thin Red Line, and the fabled Charge of the Light Brigade, as well as the Battle of Inkerman.(Nov. 5, 1854)

After sustaining a dismal winter siege, surrounded by Allied forces in the trenches, where thousands died of cholera and poor medical services - in spite of the best that Florence Nightingale could do - Sebastopol finally fell in September 1855, effectively ending the war in the Crimea. Hostilities were finally stopped in February 1856, with the Treaty of Paris bringing peace in March.

A fabulous and huge pitcher dating from the period when Canadian soldiers fought - as members of the British Army - in the bloody battlefields of the Crimea on the northern shore of the Black Sea..

It features soldiers of three countries: France left, Turkey below, and Britain below left, shooting, bayonetting, and stabbing the Russian Eagle to death.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Forward 42nd - Robert Gibb, 1888
Orig. print - Size - 51 x 71 cm
Found - St. Catharines, ON
Colin Campbell, shouting "Forward Forty-Second" is shown directing the Highlanders in a successful charge against overwhelmed numbers of Russians on the heights just north of Sebastopol. The British fleet lies in the background having landed the Allied troops on the plain to begin the advance on Sebastopol. The Russians fell back on the city.

Renowned Victorian military artist Robert Gibb painted this famous scene in 1888, advised by officers in the picture who led the attack. A print found quite commonly at rural Canadian auctions coming from houses where they have been lovingly displayed for over a hundred years since they were originally issued by the Montreal Family Herald and Weekly Star.

The bust left of Colin Campbell is a rare treasure, once in the collection of Elizabeth Collard, the famous authority on 19th century Canadian pottery.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
The Thin Red Line

Depicting Sir Colin Campbell in command of the 92nd Highland Regiment just moments after the second volley.

Considered one of the finest military paintings of the 19th century "The Thin Red Line" was painted by Robert Gibb in 1881.

These two Gibb prints were issued by the Montreal Family Herald and Weekly Star around 1890, and are, by far, the most common military prints found at Canadian antique auctions at the beginning of the 21st century. Most are still in their original frames and glass, though the condition varies.

The astonishing popularity of these prints demonstrates powerfully the pervasive impact that the Crimean War and the concept of Imperial participation had on many Canadian families during the late 19th century.

The Thin Red Line - Robert Gibb, 1881
Orig. print - Size - 41 x 61 cm"
Found - Toronto, ON
After the Battle of the Alma Sir Colin Campbell landed his regiment at Balaklava, south of Sebastopol, and was on the plains in front of the British camp when the Russians launched a powerful cavalry charge some 2,500 strong. To avoid being outflanked, Sir Colin extended the lines of the 93 Highland Regiment, supposed to be four deep, wider, leaving only two ranks to face the massive cavalry charge. Sir Colin, shown above, riding down behind the line, shouted, "There is no retreat from here, men, you must die where you stand." Along the ranks the men repeated "Ay, Ay, Sir Colin. If needs be, we'll do that."

Sir Colin's steely nerves held his first volley till the Russian charge was deathly close and fired the second at only 50 yards. The Russian cavalry was shattered; the attack thrown back.

Journalist accounts of the battle gave rise to the immortal phrase "thin red line" in praise of the awesome pluck of the British fighting Tommy, which was all that kept the British camp from annihilation by advancing Russian troops.

His men wanted to pursue the crushed remnants of the attack; Sir Colin held them back. A second Russian attack was thrown back by the Heavy Brigade. Lord Raglan, the Commander-in-Chief, now turned to the Light Brigade of British cavalry to rout what appeared to be the remnants of the Russians he saw fleeing back to their own lines...

The Mystery of Sir Colin Campbell...

This bust was in the ceramic collection of busts in the estate sale of Elizabeth Collard in 2002. This relatively unknown soldier - no one at the auction knew who he was - seemed an odd choice because, she had only three military busts, the other two being Wellington and Kitchener, both of whom were famous top commanders of Canadian men at war.

Could she have confused this Sir Colin Campbell with a slightly earlier contemporary, also named Sir Colin Campbell, who indeed had a strong Canadian connection, being Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia?

More than one Google reference confuses the two men, as if Sir Colin was rewarded with a governorship in Canada for his Crimean exploits... It is a wrongful association... (Though the war hero Colin Campbell served in Canada during the War of 1812-14, as a young officer.)

The Charge of the Light Brigade

Probably the most glorious exploit in all military history is the epic charge of the Light Brigade of British cavalry into the Valley of Death and the firestorm of Russian guns at the Battle of Balaklava in 1855.

The painting left, captures the scene as the British horsemen advance, slowly at first, then trotting, and finally in full charge into the very mouths of point blank cannon.

It has been shrouded in controversy ever since, not about the bravery of the commanding offers or the men. It was above and beyond reproach extolling forever the highest sense of duty in the British Victorian Army.

Out of six hundred who started the charge, 118 were killed, 128 wounded, and four hundred horses were lost. Only 200 men and horses survived unscathed.

Said French General Pierre Bosquet, who watched it from the heights in the foreground, "It is magnificent; but it is not war!"

It is also an indictment of the highest levels of the British Officer Corps who botched the command that set this gross military blunder into operation.

Was the order to do this actually given by Lord Raglan (Commander-in-Chief), to Lord Lucan (Cavalry Commander), and on down to Lord Cardigan (Unit Commander), or just bungled on down the line through the messenger Captain Nolan?

And did Billy Brittain really blow the charge on his fabled Balaklava bugle, below; we will never know because he was one of the many who died from the fight.

Alexander Dunn VC

Canada's first VC ever, was won before the award existed... and in the shambles of the retirment after the fabled Charge of the Light Brigade.

Alexander was born in York (today's Toronto, Ontario), later joined a British unit and was only 21 on that historic day.

As the British regiments withdrew after the Charge, at Balaklava, Lt. Alexander Dunn, of the 11th Hussars, noticed a junior officer falling behind on a flagged horse and coming under attack by three Russian troopers. Spurring his own horse back to help, he sabered the attackers allowing the other trooper to escape.

Only with the greatest difficulty - since his horse was killed - did Dunn make it back to his own lines.

The Victoria Cross: The most prized medal issued to British soldiers during the past 150 years is the Victoria Cross left.

The VC was introduced during the Crimean War for conspicuous, individual acts of gallantry in the presence of the enemy.

Right is the Crimea campaign medal featuring bars for the main battles of the war: Sebastopol, Inkerman, Balaklava, and the Alma.

Crimean War, and subsequent VCs, were all cast from captured Russian cannons, until 1942, when the supply ran out and gun metal was used instead.

The Victoria Cross is still the highest honour - civilian or military - that the British Empire recognizes, and takes pride of place atop a list of 78 honours available to British citizens.

During the 19th century only 5 Canadians won a Victoria Cross.

Above, the scene after the battle, with cannon balls in the ditch, and a recent view.
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Emperor Napoleon III, Baxter Print - 1854
Orig. Baxter print - Image Size - 7 x 10 cm
Found - Toronto, ON
Emperor Napoleon III, of France, had seized power in a coup d'état in 1852, and immediately started to flex his muscle militarily, eager to resurrect France to the heights of glory of Emperor Napoleon I.

After provoking events that led to the Crimean War he was buoyed by his success to be on the winning side and sought to extend French power internationally with military forays elsewhere: in China - his troops entered Beijing - Italy, Austria, Mexico.

His downfall came with the Franco-Prussian War, when he - like Dubbya in Iraq - picked an enemy he couldn't lick. The Germans would not be stopped by anyone on their drive to nationhood. His defeat brought about the unification of the German principalities into the German Empire. Napoleon surrendered his sword to King William of Prussia, after he, and France, lost the Battle of Sedan, and the war, in 1870. Two days later the French removed Napoleon as Emperor and he fled to England. He died there in 1873.

This pair of Baxter prints are named if honour of the man who developed an early method of making colour prints for the masses, using oil-based inks that mimicked oil paintings.
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Empress Eugénie, Baxter print - 1854
Orig. Baxter print - Image Size - 7 x 10 cm
Found - Toronto, ON
Empress Eugénie also moved to London as a guest of Queen Victoria when her husband was dethroned in 1870.

Her son, the Prince Imperial (Napoleon IV) won fame, as an officer in the British Army, when he was killed, by Zulus in South Africa, while fleeing from a war party in 1879. His death resulted in one of the biggest scandals in British military history because top field commanders had given strict instructions - that failed abysmally - to avoid allowing the Prince - and Pretender to the throne of France - to come anywhere near to warring Zulus. Below, lying in state.

(Like Frederick Borden, Prime Minister Laurier's gung ho Minister of Militia during the Boer War, Eugénie paid a high price for her husband's promotion of militarism, the loss of an only son to the Dogs of War.)

Eugénie died in 1920, as the last French person to have worn a crown left. All three are buried in Farnborough, England.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Crimean War Monument - George Laing, 1860
Orig. memorial
Found - Halifax, NS

The Welsford-Parker Crimean War monument, probably Canada's oldest war memorial was erected in the Old Burying Ground in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1860, in honour of two local boys who served in the Crimea and died in action at the attack on the Redan, a key fort in the defences of Sebastopol.

The campaigns of the Crimean War have left their marks in signage across Canada. Thousands of soldiers who fought in it were posted to Canada both before and after the war. Untold thousands ultimately chose to settle in the wilds of Canada.

They named towns, streets, buildings, and parks after the battles and commanders of the Crimean campaigns in honour of the places where they had laid their lives on the line for their Queen and Empire, and where many of their comrades had died.

Signage from these military veterans can be found all over Canada, and include: Sebastopol, Alma, Balaklava, Redan, Inkerman, Kars, Raglan, Lucan, Cardigan.

Other towns were renamed. In Pictou County, Nova Scotia, an early name for a town was River John Village but in August 1858 this was changed to Welsford in honor of Major Augustus Welsford who was killed leading the ladder party at the storming of the Redan at Sebastopol on September 8, 1855.

Captain WBCA Parker was killed the same day in the same attack.

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