A group of periodicals that were produced by and for German prisoners of war held in a camp in Hawick, Roxburghshire, during the First World War proved one of the more successful and unusual entries in a Carlisle sale of May 18.
Guided at £50-80 by Thomson Roddick (20% buyer’s premium), the collection sold at a notably higher than expected £420.
The peridodicals were bound with a few related theatrical programmes and spanned the period October 1916 to February 1919.
The group contained 26 issues of Stobsiade. The title of the publication, it seems, is a pun on Stobs Internment Camp, as it was known, and an 18th century mock epic poem called Jobsiade by the German physician and writer, Carl Arnold Kortum.
One issue was missing from the run, being one that apparently aroused the disapproval of the British censor at the time.
A website devoted to the publication, stobsiade.org, states that, in all, 39 issues were published, and reveals that it was typeset in the camp by a professional compositor.
It was clearly subject to censorship, and the website reveals that topics such as technical breakdowns in the camp, escapes and the suicide of inmates were not discussed – but it nonetheless offers a detailed insight into the nature of camp life, and of the impact of incarceration on the morale of the inmates.
Stobsiade also highlights the efforts made by the inmates and by charitable organisations such as the YMCA and the Society of Friends “…to make life behind barbed wire more meaningful”.
Stobs camp was established for training of British troops, starting in 1903. Along with PoWs, civilian internees were held from November 1914. According to another website, stobscamp.org, on February 4, 1916, “Mr Edward Lowry of the US Embassy inspected the camp. The report started off with these useful statistics: Stobs housed 4616 prisoners, of whom 1829 were soldiers, 504 sailors and 2283 civilians. Of the civilians, 2098 were Germans, 181 Austrians, three Turks and one Bulgarian.
“However, the number of prisoners from the German army and naval personnel was increasing and Stobs became a military-only PoW camp until the end of the war.”
The site is now considered by experts to be “one of the best preserved First World War camps in Europe, if not the world”.
Also part of the Carlisle lot was another work of particular local interest and age, Hawick & the Great War, A Pictorial Record of 1920.
Stobs memorabilia does appear at auction occasionally.
In November last year Stroud Auctions (18% buyer’s premium) offered a group including two rulers depicting pastoral scenes with ducks on one and geese on the other, both inscribed POW P Mehl, Stobs on the back, a still-life painting of flowers in a basket by R Suttinger POW, Stobs 16, an identification disc for Lt Herber Grohs, together with a series of letters regarding the safety of prisoners following a fatal incident and a letter detailing the discovery of an escape tunnel by two officers.
Estimated at £40-60, the lot sold for £420.
Glasgow auction house McTear’s offered a 1916 Stobs PoW camp tin coin, 44mm diameter, within a wooden case. It sold within estimate at a hammer price of £55 in December.
The obverse depicted a view of the camp huts with a background a shining sun partially obscured by trees and hills, all above the words KRIEGSGEFANGENEN LAGER STOBS [PoW Camp Stobs]. An imperial German eagle appeared on the reverse with a shield inscribed ZUR ERINNERUNG 1916 [To Remember 1916].
Another medal of the same design, described as pewter, sold for a top-estimate £120 at Mayfair saleroom Noonans last April.