Suffragette memorabilia of this significance is a rare sight at auction.
Three of the edges of this purple, green and white banner are marked Manchester – Women’s Social & Political Union, and the centre with First in the fight – Founded by Mrs Pankhurst – 1903.
The charity shop – hoping it might be worth £50 or more – believed it had been donated by a man whose mother, Edna White, had lived in the Manchester area before moving to Leeds in the 1930s. Asked for help in cataloguing the 5ft (1.5m) textile, The People’s History Museum in Manchester drew a blank when trying to tie the name to the Manchester Suffragettes, but ‘Edna’ might just have been a supporter or a minor member.
The museum was able to help with the manufacturer of the banner: a label confirmed it was made by the Manchester firm of Thomas Brown & Son, known to have produced a number of WSPU banners. However, it was not quite able to place the winning bid.
On sale day bidding came down to a UK collector/ dealer and a representative of the People’s History Museum, both in the room, with the former emerging victorious.