The Overseas Club Christmas Gifts Certificate

In 1910 Sir Evelyn Wrench founded the Overseas Club as a way of fostering links between the disperate peoples of the British Empire that went beyong politics or economics and was to be a network of ‘far-flung brotherhood of individual men and women of diverse creed and races living widely apart under differing conditions in different latitudes’. From the start it was designed to be non-sectarian, non-political and open to women and one of its aims was to give ‘nations of the Commonwealth a helping hand along the path of freedom and independence’.

The First World War saw the Overseas Club massively expand, with numbers going from 300 in 1910 to 15,000 by 1918. One of its primary roles in World War One was to raise money for comforts and gifts for soldiers and sailors of the Empire. As well as fundraising by adults, children were encouraged to raise momney by the ‘Children’s Pennies Scheme’ that was to raise £58,000 by the end of the war for tobacco for the troops. Every year children were encouraged to raise money to give servicemen Christmas presents and each year a different, highly ornate and colourful certificate was presented to children who contributed. This example dates from 1915:

It was presented to Ethel Greig and across the top can be seen the badges of different countries from across the Empire:

Whilst in the bottom corner is a delightful image of children giving presents to a soldier and sailor:

Finally, a panel on the opposite side gives more details of the Overseas Club:

The scheme seems to have been very popular judging by the number of certificates that have survived. These are by no means rare, but they are a colourful and delightful little piece of ephemera to track down.

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