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Ref  HS5   Suffragette Hunger Strike Medal

Two highly important pieces of Suffragette history, a hunger strike medal and a silver toffee hammer brooch, so apt to come to us in the centenary year of women first receiving the right to vote in the U.K. The medal, in its original box, was awarded to militant Suffragette Clara Giveen. It is engraved 'Hunger Strike' to the obverse and 'Clara Giveen' to the reverse, mounted on its original green, white and purple ribbon, with enamelled bar in the Suffragette colours and with three engraved bars  : 'For Valour', 'July 3rd 1913' and 'Nov. 24th 1913'. The two dated bars represent two separate arrests and two hunger strikes. The reverse of the enamelled bar is engraved, 'Fed by Force 1/3/12'. The medal measures 3 inches by 1.5 inches. The box is inscribed : Presented to Clara Giveen by the Women's Social and Political union in recognition of a gallant action whereby through endurance to the last extremity of hunger and hardship, a great principle of political justice was vindicated. It is estimated that no more than 100 of these medals were made and awarded to suffragettes.

The other item is a miniature toffee hammer brooch engraved 'March 1912'. The only other examples I have seen are in the Museum of London. Toffee hammers were used to break up sheets of toffee candy for future sale and consumption. These small hammers, easily available and easily concealed, were used in the suffragettes’ window-smashing campaign. Wanting to show political displeasure without causing loss of life, and also to make a political statement that the government cared more about a pane of glass than women's rights, window smashing became official WSPU policy in 1911. Over 200 women were arrested during 1911 and 1912 for attacks on commercial and government buildings.

Clara Giveen [1887 - 1967], joined the Women’s Social and Political Union in response to the violence meted out to women in the Black Friday protest outside the House of Commons in 1910. Within days of becoming a Suffragette, Clara, aged 23, took part in a demonstration in Downing Street and with 160 other women she was arrested but discharged without trial. On November 21st 1911 she was arrested for breaking windows at a local government board office and for this offence she received her first sentence of 5 days' imprisonment. On 1st March 1912 Clara took part in the WSPU window smashing campaign and was arrested and charged with breaking windows at Jay's store in Regent Street. For this offence she received a sentence of four months, part of which she served at Winson Green Prison in Birmingham until she was released on 27th June, weakened by her hunger strike. She and fellow Suffragette, actress Kitty Marion, carried out an arson attack on Hurst Park grandstand in June 1913. The attack was in retaliation for the death of Suffragette Emily Wilding Davison, who died after running onto the racecourse and being trampled by King George V’s horse. Both ladies were arrested the following morning and Giveen was sentenced to three years in prison, forcibly fed and later released under the Cat and Mouse Act. Many Suffragettes and supporters of votes for women carried out peaceful protests, the militant Clara Giveen was certainly not one of them. Powerful, moving pieces of  women's social and political history.

sold

suff1


suff4                 suff2

hunger1            hunger2

suff5
Giveen's toffee hammer brooch.



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Clara Giveen [ No. 16] from police surveillance photos of militant Suffragettes, 1914.
[Museum of London]


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Photograph of the Suffragette Clara Giveen. This was one in a series of surveillance photographs of the most 'dangerous' militant suffragettes taken by an undercover photographer working for the Home Office from 1913. The images were used to identify suffragettes entering public buildings such as museums and art galleries, where they might attempt to damage the objects.  [Museum of London]


hurst-park-pk-cat-182

 Giveen's arson attack on Hurst Park Racecourse.

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