Falkirk autograph book is set to raise thousands for Poppyscotland charity

The Duke of Windsor, pictured in the 1960's.
The Duke of Windsor, pictured in the 1960's.

A Falkirk collector’s autograph book packed with “A-list” signatures from British history is set to raise a small fortune for Poppyscotland’s funds.

The volume includes more than 300 famous people’s signatures and was bequeathed to the Earl Haig Fund in 1933, but is now being auctioned on Wednesday next week to help support members of the armed forces community.

Rudyard Kipling appealing for recruits to join the British Army during the First World War.  The author was later heartbroken when Jack, his only son, was killed while serving with the Irish Guards.

Rudyard Kipling appealing for recruits to join the British Army during the First World War. The author was later heartbroken when Jack, his only son, was killed while serving with the Irish Guards.

Badged as auction Lot 218, the book was originally bequeathed by an HB Watson, of Harlesden, Falkirk, as a collection of signatures gathered from 1897 to 1933.

It is in its original leather case with a contemporary note of bequest, and auctioneers Lyon & Turnbull estimate it will fetch between £1,800 and £2,200.

Included are the names of many Prime Ministers, from Lord Salisbury to Lloyd George, as well as celebrities as varied as Peter Pan author JM Barrie, Jungle Book author Rudyard Kipling, Labour Party founder Keir Hardie and HRH Edward Prince of Wales - who famously abdicated the throne to pursue his romance with Wallis Simpson.

Poppyscotland’s head of fundraising, Gordon Michie, said: “The book has been stored safely at our premises in Edinburgh for several decades.

“Last year we began the process of renovating Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory, and during the job of packing everything up the book was once again brought to the forefront of our minds.

“Staff who were not aware that we held such a special item were fascinated to see the signatures of so many luminaries from yesteryear all gathered together in one place.

“It created a genuine buzz around the office, and we subsequently took the decision to put it up for auction”.

He added: “It was gifted to the Earl Haig Fund for that very purpose – and now we are fulfilling that wish almost 90 years on.

“Our hope is that it will generate a lot of interest at auction, which will ensure we raise a healthy sum for us to continue to support the Armed Forces community in Scotland”.

Cathy Marsden, a book specialist at Lyon & Turnbull, said: “It contains a wide range of important signatures from its day, ranging from stars such as Ellen Terry, to explorers such as Fridtjof Nansen; from eminent scientists and engineers like Marconi, to a vast array of important political figures.”

Due to be sold at Lyon & Turnbull (33 Broughton Place, Edinburgh) on Wednesday, the sale begins at 11am and public viewing is available in the lead-up to the auction.