NHBS Membership Brasses

R.J. Bradshaw.

Every member who joins the National Horse Brass Society will receive one of our numbered year brasses, the design of which, is voted on by members present at the AGM. When the design choice is finalised these brasses are then manufactured in Walsall by a firm headed by Alison Garbett, the daughter of the late, Terry Keegan who was the founder member of the NHBS. Indeed, each brass is stamped on the reverse with the individual members own number, which, in its own way, makes each brass unique, and therefore personal to that member.

Left, the 2016 members year brass, which was based on a rare, 1887 Jubilee type.
The addition of engravers wax always imparts that special finish, and its placement on an old leather face-piece, certaily adds to the overall look of the piece!  

 

 

 

 Above, the latest five of our year brasses, with waxed detail, which are probably amongst the best modern brasses produced in recent years; and below, the preceeding three years brasses of which the same might be said.  The design for the 2009 brass was also used by the NHBS for our 2014 award brass given at shows for the best decorated harness class.

 

    

Above; Members Brasses for 2004, 05, 06, 07, and 08 all of which have been waxed as have those above. It is amazing what a bit of engravers wax can impart to the overall look of a brass.  Indeed, once a good polish is given, and with a few weeks to patinate down, these modern brasses take on the mellow, straw coloured tones of old brass as evidenced by the two straps below; especially the 1999 members brass! 
Brasses are received, at the start of each membership year, in a finished, polished state, but members can still add their own personal touch. Personally, I like to treat mine like the old tradesmen often did, by waxing the intaglio detail (see above and below) with red or black engravers wax, (available through most good craft suppliers) which, I feel, really adds a touch of authenticity and imparts a certain depth to the design. Before this is added however, some members like to give the brass a real “going over” with metal polish just to start it on the road that leads to that, special, silky texture that the older brasses in our collections have often arrived at. For the really determined member however, this finish can be had in a relatively short time, for as any old National Service member will tell you, its amazing the finish that can be achieved with a bit of Brasso polished with some light cardboard or indeed some silicon-carbide paper such as the 1500 fine-grade.

Those members that like to go that extra mile often mount their year brasses on Martingales or other decorative strapping, and some are used by contemporary horsemen! Once again, and on a strictly personal level, the author has included two such straps that readily illustrate the effect that can be achieved by using two such items of modern, leatherwork to show off a “run” of year brasses. These can then be polished on a regular basis, in-situ, which really adds to the overall impression, and indeed, all the pair of straps (below) really need now is a horse to attach it to.

Left; a millenium theme is achieved here with the 1999 members brass top, followed by the members 2000 brass and at the bottom, the NHBS special commissioned in 2000 Commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the founding of the N.H.B.S. and right, the society members brasses for 2001, 2002, and 2003

In recent years it has been noted that these brasses are rapidly becoming collector’s items in their own right (see Ipsden page) and, as such, NHBS member brasses are often seen on ebay these days. Certain years are now highly sought after, especially the earlier ones, and these often command good prices especially the founder members brass, one of which, fetched a three-figure sum in 2008.

It is nice to know that as a society, we are able to produce something that is, quite obviously, highly regarded as a collectors item in its own right so the NHBS Committee sincerely hope that, you, the members will continue to submit your designs, and cherish our membership brasses, which, as we have seen, are often an appreciating asset in a league of their own.