A rare austerity poppy produced nearly 80 years ago during the Second World War has been discovered – flame-red proof that good emerges in the darkest times.
Restrictions and shortage of materials meant producing poppies to mark the fallen was not a straightforward task during the 1939-45 conflict.
However, in 1942 the British Austerity issue Haig Fund Poppy was born using cardboard and red fabric to save on materials. Its centre displays the words ‘Haig’s Fund’, a charity set up in 1921 by Field Marshal Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig, to assist ex-servicemen.
The austerity poppy is due to be sold on November 20 in Hansons’ Auctioneers’ Militaria Auction with a guide price of £100-£150
Adrian Stevenson, militaria expert at Hansons, said: “These poppies are extremely rare because most would have been lost or thrown away decades ago. This one’s in superb condition given its age. It’s around 78 years old. I understand it was owned by the seller’s father. It’s a poignant reminder of our annual Remembrance Day service, a simple sign of hope, respect and endurance that means so much.”
Poppies are regarded as a sign of hope as the flowers rose in their thousands out of muddy fields devasted by conflict in Flanders, a region of North France and Belgium, during the First World War, which lasted from 1914-18.
The moving sight of floral abundance emerging from the depths of misery was captured in a poem entitled In Flanders Fields. It was written in 1915 by Canadian doctor Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae who lost a friend at Ypres during the Great War.
The impact of the poem led to French woman Madame Guérin establishing Poppy Days in 1919 under the auspices of her charity. Today the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal sells artificial poppies to aid servicemen and women in the run up to Remembrance Day on November 11.
The austerity poppy is due to be sold on November 20 in Hansons Auctioneers online-only Militaria, Medals and Firearms Auction at Heage Lane, Etwall, Derbyshire. To find out more, please email [email protected].