Selections & Collections

Fri 01 March 2019, 10:00 AM - Cardiff Saleroom, South Wales

Selections & Collections

Lot 1

A NEW ZEALAND ALL BLACKS RUGBY UNION SHIRT FROM SERGEANT HUBERT SYDNEY 'JUM' TURTILL (1880-1918) WORN VERSUS AUSTRALIA IN 1905. TOGETHER WITH TWO CAPS & RELATED EPHEMERA Provenance: the London based New Zealand born vendor is the great-great grandson of Sydney Turtill Jum Turtill was one of the most gifted fullbacks of the Edwardian era, his number of All Blacks caps curtailed to a single test as he became the infamous 'dual-code player' - switching to the All Gold rugby league professionals. Jum was killed in action during the Great War, in Givenchy, France in April 1918. The shirt has the embroidered New Zealand fern badge and the iconic stitched canvas quilt overlaid to the upper section, complete with drawstring which appears to be original. There are a few holes but structurally sound without extensive damage. Included in the parcel, is an All Blacks cap bearing embroidered fern with NZ cypher, complete with tassel. Also, a two-tone felt cap, complete with tassel, bearing Canterbury crest and bearing internal label for retailers J Ballantyne & Co, Christchurch. There is an original black and white official photograph of Jum wearing the shirt, a British War Graves Photographic Association black and white photograph of Jum's grave in France and a black and white photograph of a soldier in uniform (it is not clear whether this is Jum). Also in the parcel, two original caricature sketches of Jum in playing action, by the famous Beano cartoonist Reg Carter, both signed and dated 1908. Hubert Sydney Turtill was the youngest of four children of Arthur and Alice Turtill. He was born on February 1st 1880 in Mile End, London a few days after his father died, aged only 32. At the age of four, once he was strong enough for the long sea-voyage, Alice took Sydney and her young family to New Zealand for a new life, a country where she had relatives already living. During the voyage, Sydney was bestowed the nickname 'Jumbo' because of his puppy-fat, this later became simply 'Jum' and this name stuck despite Jum developing a fine athletic frame as he grew into a young man. The Turtills settled in Christchurch where Jum attended West Christchurch School between 1885-1892. Jum stated that he started playing rugby as a wing forward in 1893, but it was said that his mother Alice was not keen on him playing rugby. In 1898 he was fullback for the Christchurch Albion club B team and was promoted to the A team the next year at the age of 19. Jum was also a competitive swimmer in his formative years, he also trained as a volunteer with the Christchurch Engineers Corps and was a keen competitor at rifle shooting competitions against other regiments. At 22 years old, Jum made his Canterbury debut in 1902 as full-back and played nine games that season. He was noted as a player with a lot of promise who 'fields a ball in splendid style, and knows how to tackle'. In 1905, he was selected for a Canterbury-South Canterbury combined XV against Australia which they won 8-3 at Lancaster Park and, on the same day, it was announced that he had been selected for New Zealand v Australia. This was to be the first test to be hosted in New Zealand between the two sides and the first international to be played in the South Island. The match venue was transferred from Dunedin's Caledonian ground to Tahuna Park because heavy rain had made the former unplayable. The historic test was watched by only 3,000 spectators who braved horrendous elements. New Zealand were victors 14-3 and it was said that Jum excelled with a perfect display of kicking and defending despite the conditions. However, it was to be his only All Blacks cap. Jum played his last club game on July 6th 1907, the same day as the Professional All Blacks team was selected for a tour to England. He had signed up for the privately organised tour where they would play 'Northern Union' rules. It is said that above anything, Jum had been attracted to the prospect of visiting his country of birth. The pioneering professional team visited Sydney, where they defeated New South Wales three times in eight days but playing rugby union rules. The Australian press nicknamed the New Zealanders the 'All Golds' - a reference to the slice of the gate-money to be received in England. The tourists also defeated Ceylon (Sri Lanka) playing union rules. It wasn't until they arrived in England in October 1907 that the players actually learned the league code! Over the next five months, through to February 1908, the All Golds played 35 league matches, mainly against club teams, winning 19 times. Jum excelled at fullback playing in all but two of the matches. International tests were played against Wales (lost 9-8), England (lost 18-16) and Great Britain (lost 14-6, won 18-6 and won 8-5). The British press referred to the team as the 'All Blacks' while the Southern Hemisphere press tended to use 'All Golds'. On their return the tourists played a further 10 games in Australia including three tests with Jum captaining the first league test between the two countries, leading New Zealand to an 11-10 victory. The All Golds won the series 2-1. In all, the team toured for 10 months, playing 49 games and beating both Great Britain and Australia to a test series. When the All Golds finally arrived back in New Zealand, they played an exhibition match at Wellington which was the first ever match of Rugby League in the country and it was captained by Jum Turtill. After the tour Jum returned to a normal existence, working as a sheet metal worker and marrying Mabel Edith Hancock in 1908. But the next year he lost his job, a twist of fate which certainly changed his life and ultimately may have cost him his life. As a way out Jum accepted an offer from St Helens club in Lancashire with a signing-on fee of £200 and £2.2/- per game. He played his first match for St Helens on September 9th and set himself up as a tobacconist. The couple had three sons born in England. Jum was considered by the English sporting press as an artist in the position of fullback, he was one of the great pioneers in the position, in that he brought attacking instinct when it was traditionally considered exclusively a position of defence and conservatism. Jum's career continued until he retired at the end of the 1913/14 season. During his five years at St Helens he played 137 games, scoring three tries and kicking 198 goals amassing 403 points. He ran the Nelson Hotel in Bridge Street, St Helens and it is likely that he looked forward to a settled life with his family and to become the well-known and respected publican of the town. But this wasn't to be. At the outset of war, Jum joined the Royal Engineers and was part of the Territorial Force the 422nd Field Company, which was under command of the 55th (West Lancashire) Division. Jum saw action at Hellencourt and Bretencourt, before the first battle of the Somme. Later, fields in Guillemont, Ginchy, Ribemont, Flers-Courcelette and Morval and the Ypres became Jum's home, he existed in muddy hellish trenches which were bombarded constantly by artillery fire and gas. He survived the massacres at Pilkem Ridge and in Menin Road Ridge, but on April 9th, 1918, Jum was killed at Givenchy by shrapnel from a shell burst. Jum Turtill was 38 years old. We will remember Jum. The Defence of Givenchy was to become one of the single most famous actions of the war. It was afterwards publicly stated by an officer of the German General Staff that the stand made there by the British on April 9th, and the days which followed, marked the final ruination of the supreme German effort of 1918. Thirteen former All Blacks lost their lives in the First World War including the captain of the Original All Blacks Dave Gallaher. We will remember them. Jum Turtill had a rich part in New Zealand sporting history; an important figure in rugby union and rugby league. A gifted All Black who switched to Rugby League by learning the new rules while on the first ever professional tour by a New Zealand party. He was a pioneer of the professional game and a pioneer at the position of fullback. He played in the first Rugby Union test match to be held in New Zealand between New Zealand and Australia. He captained the first recognised Rugby League match in New Zealand. Jum was a loyal servant to St Helens RFC. Jum is a fallen war hero who fought in one of the seminal battles of World War I which ultimately led to Armistice. He is buried at Brown's Road Military Cemetery, Festubert, Pas de Calais. Sadly, Jum's son Alan, lost his life in WWII in Libya, North Africa aged 32. He was a Captain with the 21st Battalion New Zealand Infantry. The family of the vendor request that the purchaser considers very occasional access for Jum's descendants and family to see the shirt should they request this access in the future. This would of course be by arrangement. It is important to the family that the shirt is preserved and documented for the future.

Guide price
£30000 - £40000

Hammer price £39,000.00