by John Ineson
It is not very often these days that an original sketch by Lord Robert Baden-Powell comes up for sale at a public auction in the U.K., but recently this one showing Lord Edward Cecil with one of the Mafeking Cadets, was sold for £620 (about US$ 910, €790) against an estimate of £200-£300. Signed with B-P's initials, this pen and ink sketch measuring approximately 4 x 4 inches (10 x 10cm), had the provenance that the seller purchased it direct from C. Arthur Pearson's, the Publishers. In the earlier edition of Scouting for Boys, this sketch was used in the Camp Fire Yarn No. 1 and headed "Mafeking Cadets". Baden-Powell wrote "And the Cadets, under their Sgt.Major, a boy named Goodyear, did right good work, and well deserved the medals which they got at the end of the war. Many of them rode bicycles, and we were thus able to establish a post by which people could send letters to their friends in the different forts, or about the town, without going out under fire themselves; and we made postage stamps for these letters which had on them a picture of a cadets bicycle orderly".
This cover sent from Breda during May 1945 through to Rotterdam and then to England showing the Dutch censor label was recently sold on eBay for £555.00 (US$ 785, Euro €710). During the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, Scouting was banned, but upon the liberation of the country on 5th May 1945, the Boy Scouts were soon reformed. They played an important role in carrying and delivering mail for the Post Office, which at that time was in some disorder. The postal service was run by the Scouts in Rotterdam and started on 10th May 1945. It lasted until 25th May when the Post Office in Rotterdam was again functioning normally. This cover with the circular purple Scout cachet, which had been designed and cut from linoleum by a certain Mr. van Eijnsbergen was posted on 23 May 1945. Considerable information about the Scout post from this period is available in the well illustrated colour 132 page book by René Taselaar, which was published in 2009. Written in Dutch, there is a supplementary book with a translation in English, but without the illustrations.
Since the end of Communism, my Scout stamp collecting hobby has taken me to various countries in Eastern Europe. In the near future I will be going to the Czech Republic followed a month later to Warsaw in Poland. Each of these countries produced some of the earliest and most interesting Scout items, and no doubt you are aware that Romania issued five sets of Scout stamps in the 1930's. One of the rarest of all Czech Scout cancellations is that of the third Scout Congress, which should have taken place on 28 February 1948 at Zlin. The Congress had started, but within an hour, the Scout Association was banned by the Communist Government throughout the country. The State Police arrived and all documents as well as the postmark were confiscated. However they forgot to check the letter box, so a very few postcards and covers which had been cancelled, were the only items to have survived.
I was delighted to read in the latest St. George's Day awards that Colin Walker, our regular contributor to the SGSC Bulletin and Scout Historian, has been awarded the Silver Acorn, in recognition of specially distinguished service to the Scout Movement. Congratulations to him on receiving this high award in Scouting, which was first introduced on St. George's Day in 1933.