A RARE ladies submarine brooch acquired by the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport is thought to have been given as a romantic gift from an officer to his sweetheart 103 years ago.
The delicate silver brooch, which was bought for £1,200 on the auction website eBay last week, is thought to have been commissioned by a serving submariner to give to his wife or girlfriend.
The newly-discovered item, dated 1909, was made of solid silver by Liberty’s in London and is reminiscent of a C class submarine of the time.
George Malcolmson, archivist at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum said: ‘I would think that this brooch is pretty unique, probably ordered by a submarine officer for his wife or girlfriend.
‘I have never seen another one like this. It is a remarkable piece of jewellery and I would love to know more about the story behind it.’
The fact the brooch was made at Liberty’s is significant for naval historians because the famous store’s wooden exterior is made from the old naval training ships HMS Impregnable and HMS Hindostan, which had been broken up on the River Thames.
Although this brooch was ordered, it was common for submariners to make their own tokens of love for sweethearts during the long stretches of service beneath the waves.
Mr Malcolmson said: ‘Submariners were always making sweetheart brooches on board. They used to nick the wardroom silver spoons to make them.’
The Liberty’s brooch caught the former sailor’s eye as he scoured eBay last week.
He said: ‘We realised it was rare so obviously we were determined to get it. There was a lot of interest in it so we’re really pleased that we won the bidding.’
The Liberty’s brooch and a selection of home-made love tokens will be on display at the museum during the school half term holiday this week.
For visitor’s information, call (023) 9251 0354 ext 240 or go to submarine-museum.co.uk.