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Big bang to deter Jack the Ripper

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A prostitute’s pistol will form part of the militaria mix which is set to go on auction in Hilton.

The collection of militaria on offer at Cannon & Cannon Auctioneers’s sale of antiques, collectables, jewellery and art October 1 is wide-ranging – with some surprises thrown in. They include Masai spears, Selous Scouts Rhodesian regimental memorabilia, a Zulu knobkerrie – and even a prostitute’s pistol.

The auction starts at 9am at The Quarry Centre in Hilton.

Perhaps the most intriguing of the weapons on offer is the 19th-century prostitute’s pistol made by “J Bishop of London”.

Although it is only 17cm long, this type of revolver offered protection for ladies of the night in the days when Jack the Ripper was stalking London streetwalkers.

The pistol’s size meant that it fitted inside a handbag but its main feature was that it made a noise louder than a normal handgun to scare off potential assailants. Apparently, the small calibre prevented serious wounding.

The Masai double-ended spears date to the mid-20th century, have wooden shafts and include lion-hunting spears, while the 14 Selous Scouts items range from berets to badges, a shield on a plaque and a pocket book leather cover.

Another fascinating item on offer is a tantalus – a wooden case in which bottles (usually liquor) were locked with their contents still tantalisingly visible. In fact, this 16th-century concept spawned the word “tantalise”.

Other lots likely to excite bidders on October 1 include a boxed set of gold SA Stamp Heritage Collection (top presale estimate: R85000), gentlemen’s watches worth up to R30000 and a complete collection of boxed die-cast Hachette model tractors.

Viewing for the auction is September 29 and September 30 from 9am to 1pm.

For information, call 033 343 3364 or email cannons@futurenet.co.za or visit www.cannons.co.za.

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