Why Charles Hanson is keen to celebrate all that’s good about England on St George’s Day

Posted on 12/03/2019 in Press Coverage

I’m a proud Englishman and, thanks to the historical items we regularly uncover at Hansons, I’m constantly reminded of the people and places that make our nation great, writes Charles Hanson.

Brexit has caused division and debate but one thing’s for sure, when it comes to talent, ingenuity, craftsmanship and quality there can be no disagreement – we have much to be proud of.

For that reason, I have named our April 23 sale the St George’s Day Auction and hope the people of Derby and beyond will uncover items to showcase England’s character to the world.

For example, I’d love to see royal and political memorabilia, items celebrating our sporting stars or classic English pottery such as Royal Crown Derby, Doulton, Wedgwood or Beswick.

Talking of political memorabilia, on May 10 Hansons will be selling the personal possessions of the late British prime minister Harold Wilson. Items are being catalogued and more will be revealed soon.

The incredible collection includes royal items such as Christmas cards from the Queen and Prince Philip sent every year to Harold and his wife Mary.

Interestingly, Wilson, prime minister twice from 1964-1970 and 1974-1976, held a referendum on Europe. Britain joined the EEC (European Economic Community) in 1973 but it was Wilson who ordered a UK referendum on continued membership in 1975. The electorate voted 'Yes' by 67.2% to 32.8%.

Away from politics, England is famous for its musical pedigree. From the Beatles and Bowie to Queen and Oasis, we’re awash with talent.

We celebrate this in our music auctions, the next one being March 19. Two star lots relate to a northerner who put England on the map for comedy, music and films – George Formby.

Born in Wigan in 1904, Formby was an actor, singer-songwriter and comedian who became famous worldwide. He sang comical songs, accompanied by the ukulele or banjolele, and became the UK’s highest-paid entertainer.

Remarkably, a ukulele and banjo used by the star had been gathering dust on a Staffordshire wardrobe. The ukulele, estimate £5,000-£7,000, was used by Formby in his 1935 film No Limit. The 1936 banjo, estimate £10,000-£12,000, was used on stage by Formby.

The instruments come with excellent provenance thanks to the Formby fan who collected them, George Johnson. He died last summer, aged 91, having amassed Formby memorabilia for 60 years.

It’s an honour to sell important collections like this and a wonderful reminder of an Englishman loved across the world.

A remarkable item in our Friday (March 22) Medals and Militaria Auction is a diary kept by Flight lieutenant Viv Phillips, a British serviceman held captive in German prisoner of war camp Stalag Luft III. He helped dig a tunnel that sparked a mass prison breakout – a story told in 1963 film The Great Escape.

And in Thursday’s (March 21) Coins Auction a gold Franc a pied coin from 1365 will go under the hammer. It was found in a secret drawer in a bureau belonging to a South Derbyshire family. Amazing people, amazing stories, amazing finds.

Free Valuations

Join us for free valuations at Hansons, Heage Lane, Etwall, on Wednesdays, 5-7pm, Fridays, 9am-5pm and Saturdays, 9am-noon.

Entries are invited for our June 18 Music Memorabilia Auction; July 25 Coins Auction and July 26 Medals and Militaria Auction. To arrange a free valuation, email [email protected]