A rare, nine-carat gold ‘membership badge’ for the exclusive Caterpillar Club has sold for £1500 at McTear’s, three times what the desirable item was estimated to reach.
The small bar brooch, with two ruby set eyes, in the form silkworm was awarded to Major R.C.V. Stewart on his admission to The Caterpillar Club, a club open only to those who have used a parachute to save their life whilst bailing out of a disabled aircraft. He ended his military career as a Colonel.
Other members of ‘The Caterpillar Club’ include legendary aviator, Charles Lindbergh; the commander of the famous ‘Doolittle Raid’ on Japan in 1942, Jimmy Doolittle; and former US Senator and astronaut Col. John Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth.
The Caterpillar Club brooch and certificate of membership were part of an extensive military archive sold at the McTear’s Works of Art, Medals & Militaria and Furniture Auction today (20 July 2018). The lot also included Col. Stewart’s 1939–45 Star, The France and Germany Star, The Defence Medal and The War Medal. The military archive had been in the continuous possession of Col. Stewart’s family.
Col. Stewart’s family’s recollection is that the Caterpillar Club pin was awarded following a training exercise in the late 1950s/early 60s during which the plane developed a fault and the then Major Stewart and others had to bail out over Abbotsinch airport (now Glasgow Airport).
James Bruce from McTear’s said: “We knew that this rare brooch, and other valuable medals, would generate significant interest from collectors of militaria from around the world but the hammer price exceeded our expectations. The provenance of the items plus the exclusivity of membership of The Caterpillar Club undoubtedly added to the appeal.”