Penkridge Auction Rooms
Catalogue available 23rd November
Wolverhampton Auction Rooms
Catalogue available 30th November
Saturday, 19 November, 2016 - Modified on Saturday, 26 November, 2016 at 7:36 am
Staffordshire auction house Cuttlestones will see a slice of Black Country footballing and social history come under the hammer in its Friday, 2nd December Fine Art Sale. The Wednesbury Charity Football Cup, an impressive piece of silverware in its own right, charts over 100 years of football in South Staffordshire and the West Midlands.
It also happens to be the second oldest cup of its type in the country; harking back to the golden era of Victorian philanthropy. Local historian Ian Bott, who has researched the history of the cup, explains its origins:
“The cup’s story begins with Wednesbury Businessman Isaak Griffiths JP (b.1840). He wanted to put the West Midlands’ growing appetite for football to charitable use and established an end of season tournament – The Wednesbury Charity Cup – encouraging other Black Country industrialists to get behind the project. Griffiths purchased the cup in 1880 for £100 with funds raised by public subscription and, from thereon, all proceeds from ticket sales of tournament matches went to local charities and hospitals. The charity survived for over 100 years with generations of local business leaders and philanthropists taking the reins and continuing to raise funds for local causes.”
The first team to win the Wednesbury Charity Cup in 1880 was Stafford Road; with the final club to take home the trophy being Cradley Town 1990-91. Over the years, some big clubs have seen their name appear on the trophy. It was the first cup Nottingham Forest ever won when, in 1883, they beat West Bromwich Albion 5-3. In 1886 it was Walsall Town who lifted the trophy, whilst it graced Wolverhampton Wanderers’ silver cabinet in 1888 and that of West Bromwich Albion in 1894. In addition to well-known clubs, the cup was also won by more obscure teams – including Birmingham Excelsior FC, which existed 1883-1888, and Singers FC in 1892 – a club that went on to become the somewhat better-known Coventry FC.
In a move befitting its charitable origins, a donation of the profits from the sale of the cup will go directly to support a West Midlands football team, as vendor Aaron Sheldon from Wednesbury’s Bowjangles Jewellers, explains:
“When the cup first came into my possession, as a football fan and with a keen interest in local history, I wanted to find out more about it - and the results of Ian’s research have been fascinating. It covers a period that saw football develop into the multi-league, highly professional game it is today and whoever buys this trophy will be taking on a slice of the Black Country’s social history as well as an interesting piece of early football memorabilia.
“I decided to sell the cup when I was approached by Councillor Elaine Costigan about supporting the fundraising efforts for Wood Green Athletic FC. Hopefully its sale will provide a good injection of cash into the project, and it seems fitting that a trophy originally conceived to help raise funds for local causes should put something straight back into local football.”
While the cup’s historical background makes it unique, its physical attributes are equally attractive. Made by Walker & Hall in Solid Silver and carrying hallmarks for Birmingham 1879-80, it features a fantastic engraving of a football match in action with flags on top of the goal posts – something that was phased out in the mid-1800s. With an overall weight just under 7kg and measuring 2ft 4 inches tall standing on an ebonised base engraved with previous winners, this is a real showstopper.
The Wednesbury Charity Football Cup will come under the hammer as part of the silver section of Cuttlestones Auctioneers & Valuers Friday 2nd December Fine Art Auction in Penkridge.
The full catalogue will be available online at www.cuttlestones.co.uk from Friday 25th Dec, with viewing on the morning of and day prior to the sale. For those unable to attend on the day, live internet, telephone and advance commission bidding options are available. For details contact 01785 714905 or email firstname.lastname@example.org