The Suffragette Movement & The Memorabilia That Lives On

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Hello and welcome once again to another "Blog Post Monday".

This week I found a lovely piece of antique memorabilia.  Memorabilia from a fight that was taken up by a group of people during the early 20th century, for the right to a basic, well, human right...!  I'm talking about the Suffragette movement.

The piece I found is a beautiful rolled gold watch with a powerful message to the face.  A stark reminder of the struggles women endured at the time and continue to endure today.  And, in light of me finding this memorable piece of memorabilia, I thought I'd dedicate this week's blog post to it and the brave women of the Suffragette movement.

So, as always, get that kettle on, pull your mums, grandmothers, sisters, girlfriends, wives, daughters, nieces, aunties, cousins and friends in close to you, tell them how bloody amazing they are, and let's remember the Suffragettes and how relevant they still are today. 



So, firstly, we should all know, a suffragette was a member of an activist women's organisation in the early 20th century who, under the banner "Votes for Women", fought for the right to vote in public elections.

Jewellery played a huge part in the Suffragettes movement.  Its primary purpose was to demonstrate its wearer's allegiance to the cause of women's suffrage in the UK and was a key mechanism used by British suffragists to identify themselves.  The official colours of the Suffragettes were purple, white and green, and these pieces of jewellery would contain these colours.



I've owned a silver suffragette pocket watch before now and I've seen many pieces of the jewellery in my time.  However, they're very sought after pieces now, as is anything with a connection to the movement.  This week I was very fortunate to find a lovely elegant rolled gold ladies watch with a powerful "Votes For Women" face in the iconic purple, white and green colours.  Sadly, right now, it's not working.  And, whilst it does make a beautiful and powerful piece of jewellery, I'd really love to try and get it repaired.



It actually has an engraving to the back that reads "C.D. Xmas 1932".  So, obviously 1932 was after the suffragette movement itself.  However, was "C.D." a Suffragette of the time and gifted this meaningful gift in 1932? We will never know for sure, but it's certainly a possibility.  The law allowing all women to vote was passed in 1928, so only four years prior to the date on this watch.  So perhaps memories of the fight were stirred within "C.D." at the time and a loved one thought that this watch would be a thoughtful gift that Christmas in 1932?



Certainly, it would have been a fight that stuck in the minds of those women involved and if you don't know much about what happened, I'll provide a brief synopsis for you.



British women had been arguing for women’s suffrage since the 1860s, however, the movement accelerated when Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters Christabel and Sylvia founded the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) in 1903.



Despite large scale demonstrations, the British government refused to support or introduce a suffrage bill.  As a result and in an effort to have their voices heard, the Suffragettes had no option but to take direct action, consequently becoming more militant.  Conversely, Police were instructed to be more heavy handed and began beating Suffragettes, some severely, during rallies.  Police orchestrated the violence and then, inevitably, arrested Suffragettes for public disorder.  They were handed prison sentences of anywhere from 3 days to several months, during which some continued the fight and went on hunger strike.



In response to the beatings and prison sentences they were enduring, the Suffragettes began to wage guerrilla warfare, orchestrating systematic window-smashing and arson attacks.  And, in June 1913, a Suffragette named Emily Wilding Davison, threw herself under the King’s horse at the Derby racecourse and was killed.



In February 1918, the British Government passed an act giving women the vote if they were over the age of 30 and either owned property or rented for at least £5/year, or were the wife of someone who did.  As a result, 8.5 million women became entitled to vote in the General Election of 1918.  And, on 2 July 1928, a law was finally passed, allowing all women over the age of 21 to vote.



What amazing women, fighting the fight for equality and winning...for the right to vote, anyway.  Unfortunately, one hundred years on and women are still having to continue their fight in many elements of their day-to-day lives.  As a man, I will never understand the true extent of what they go through, but I can listen, learn and join the fight towards equality.  We are all humans and as humans, we are all equal and should be treated as such.  So, let's continue what the Suffragettes started and create a better future for the women in our lives and for those to come.



Well, that's it for this week folks!  I hope you've enjoyed this special instalment.  As always, let me know what you think in the comments section below.  And, if you know someone who repairs watches, send them my way!

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So, until next week, stay safe, keep buying those antiques and keep spreading that Source Vintage love!




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