Original British Victorian Officer’s Wire Embroidery Clad Cap in Tin named to Major M.S. Bell V.C. Royal Engineers
Original Item: One of a Kind. Here we have an incredible late Victorian Era British short brimmed officer's cap, contained in a hat tin named to Major M.S. Bell V.C. of the Royal Engineers. He was a legendary soldier and incredible world traveler. It is said that he travelled 12,000 miles in generally unknown parts of Central Asia, China and the East. He had been awarded the Victoria Cross for Valour, and was in fact the first person of Australian Birth to receive the award.
The cap itself is the typical ornate late Victorian style, and is said to be heavily "gimped", or adorned in embroidered wire thread designs. "Gimp" wire is quite thick and used mostly for jewelry, so this is much more likely a "French Wire" embroidered band around the entire circumference of the cap, with a "bullion" wire band on the front, and a bullion ball on the center of the top.
The cap is lined on the inside in fine burgundy colored fabric, which is marked with the full logo of producer HAWKES & Co. on the top, which is partly obscured by sweat and oil stains. There is a leather sweatband going around the entire interior , which is marked Bell on the inside right in pen, and looks to have been marked very long ago. The cap is in wonderful condition considering the age, and presents beautifully.
The cap tin is in very good shape and well, with a black painted exterior, and copper and lacquer lined interior. The tin measures approximately 9"W x 8"D x 5"H, and looks great. It is named in white paint on the lid:
Major M.S. Bell VC
The tin also bears a maker's brass shield on the top, reading:
HAWKES & CO
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The tin opens and closes correctly, with a latch that still holds. This really is a fantastic set, which would be at home in any Victorian Era collection. Ready to display!
More on Major M.S. Bell V.C. R.E.:
Born as Mark Sever Bell in 1843 in Sydney, Australia, at that time the colony of New South Wales, He then joined the British Royal Engineers and during the Ashanti war he received the Victoria Cross for Valour at the battle of Ordashu in 1874. He was then promoted to Major in 1882, and was Intelligence Officer during the Burma Campaign of 1886-1887.
Bell was promoted to Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel in 1883 and Brevet Colonel in 1887. He was then appointed Aide de Camp to Queen Victoria in 1887, and served in that position for several years. His last command seems to have been the Royal Engineers, Western District from 1894 to 1898. He died after a glowing military career from all over the empire in Sunningdale, Surrey in 1906.
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