The Caterpillar Club

Whilst the popularity of military-themed lots within the recent sales has shown no sign of waning, it is always a genuine pleasure to see some of the more unusual pieces come to auction. Such is the case with a small bar brooch in the form of a silkworm featured in lot 1649 in our upcoming Furniture, Works of Art, Medals & Militaria Auction (Friday 20 July, 11am).

The brooch 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.

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.

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).

The Caterpillar Club brooch and certificate of membership are part of an extensive military archive going up for sale in the McTear’s Works of Art, Medals & Militaria and Furniture Auction. The lot also includes Col. Stewart’s 1939–45 Star, The France and Germany Star, The Defence Medal and The War Medal. The military archive has been in the continuous possession of Col. Stewart’s family.

James Bruce from McTear’s said: “Memberships of clubs are often referred to as exclusive yet often they’re not. In the case of The Caterpillar Club, it really is because every member must have used a parachute to save their life whilst bailing out of a disabled aircraft, and that is certainly not something everyone can claim to have done.  Having General James Doolittle, Charles Lindbergh and Col. John Glenn as members illustrates the exclusivity of The Caterpillar Club.”

“The popularity of military-themed lots continues to grow, particularly where there is strong provenance and a fascinating story behind them.  The archive relating to Colonel R.C.V. Stewart, is a real slice of military history and chronicles the career of a highly decorated soldier.”

The auction will also feature a large collection of cap and other badges (lots 1666-73), each set in an attractive framed display, as well as three officer’s dress swords (lots 1630, 1644 and 1645). So, for collectors of all levels this truly is an unmissable auction.

To view the auction catalogue please click here >>

Works of Art & Furniture auctions are held every six weeks. For a complimentary valuation please click here >>

Handsome furniture and sculpture, bronzes, ivories and treen, textiles and costume, along with sporting memorabilia, arms and armour, rugs and carpets, feature in this auction.

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