Press Rlease - 28 March 2011
Lots 23 & 24
Bombardier B. J. Engelbrecht of the Oranje Vrystaatse Artillerie was such a person. On 19th April 2011 at 10h00 at Stephan Welz and Co. (Pty) Ltd, Rosebank, his unique ‘Archive of War’ comes under the hammer.
Engelbrecht was present at the following actions during the Anglo-Boer War – Stormberg, Laberkagnie Nek, Burts River, Dordrecht, Bamboeshoek, Aliwal North, Thabanchu, Butolsberg, Ficksburg until he was taken prisoner at Slaapkrans in the Brandwater Basin, Orange Free State, on the surrender of General Prinsloo. In his diary Engelbrecht made remarkable three dimensional drawings of the disposition of the Boer and British forces and battle fields of all the places listed above. Engelbrecht also made drawings of the POW camps at Simonstown, Green Point (Cape Town) and Darrell’s Camp in Bermuda where he did his time as a Prisoner of War. There are drawings of the ships he sailed in to and from the various POW camps. While telling his own story in his illustrated diary he comments about the food on board ship as follows “Bitter vermif koek en vrot oud meel pap mid werrems daarin”. This is a truly unique document. There is no record of a similar item. With it is the Psalm / Hymn book issued to him while a prisoner of war in Bermuda. The diary (19cm x 24cm) and hymnal is expected to sell as Lot 23 for R75,000 – R80,000.
A large Cedar wood trinket box made by Engelbrecht from wood sourced in Bermuda carries his name and a carving of the OVS Coat of Arms and “Darrell’s (Camp) Bermuda”. The box contains various leather possessions of Engelbrecht including a selection of 30 cuff links made from Cowrie and other shells from Bermuda. (This item Lot 24) is expected to sell for R20,000 – R30,000.
Lot 25 is an unusual folding shaving mirror that Engelbrecht carved while on the transport ship Armenian while on his way to Bermuda. This is the only known example of an item made by a Boer POW on board ship. Engelbrecht carved the history of the shaving mirror on its outer case. It is expected to sell for R2,500 to R3,000.
Other items showing the artistry of Engelbrecht include the file he used as a tool to fashion items out of wood and bone (and are included in Lot 22) such as a cut-throat razor with hinged bone blade, a bone chain with decorated bone links and the date 1902, a padlock made from a seed, a bone brooch of the OVS Coat of Arms and the legend ‘KGV (Krygsgevangene) Bermuda 1902’, a bone signet ring, bone pen knife etc. This collection of carvings is expected to sell for R5,000 – R6,000. It is interesting to note that Engelbrecht’s grandson, who is selling the collection, has carried on the wood carving tradition and owns a furniture factory in Pretoria making state of the art, custom-made furniture.
Besides a collection of carved pens and bodkins (Lot 21), there is another lot containing his active service insignia and equipment – 4 brass and gilt badges of the Staats Artillerie of the Free State, his Anglo-Boere Oorlog Medal officially named to Engelbrecht, a collapsible campaign fork and a collapsible corkscrew and other items. As lot 20 this is expected to sell for R4,500 – R5,000. Engelbrecht kept his treasures safe!
As it was considered to be a plus to keep the collection together, Lots 20 to 25 of the Engelbrecht Archive of War are being offered jointly and separately. If the combined bid is higher than the total for the individual lots added together, then the bid will secure all six lots.
What makes the Engelbrecht Archive of War particularly important is that members of the Boer Forces seldom retained their war time memorabilia – a few carved POW items would be gifted to family members but to keep it all was not a Boer tradition as the Boer Forces were made up of civilians. As Engelbrecht was a member of the OVS Artillerie, this may be the reason for the pride he had for his military exploits.
This unique collection, where its components reflect the war time service of one man during the Anglo-Boer War, should excite all collectors of Boer War Memorabilia. Stephan Welz & Company’s last few auctions have shown that there is exceptional interest in such items.