Christina Broom

Christina Broom

Christina Broom was born in London in 1863. She took her first photograph in 1903 and later that year achieved success when she began selling prints of the winning horse and jockey of the Derby at Epsom. Over the next few years she made a living selling photographic postcards of national events.

A supporter of women's suffrage, Broom took a large number of photographs of protest meetings and demonstrations. Christina Broom died in 1939.

Turbulent London

Me outside the Museum of London Docklands, contributing to the #museumselfie Twitter hashtag (Photo: Hannah Awcock).

Soldiers and Suffragettes: The Photography of Christina Broom is a temporary exhibition at the Museum of London Docklands in Canary Wharf, open until Sunday the 1st of November. I went along because not only did Christina Broom photograph the campaign for female suffrage in the early twentieth century, she was also an impressive woman in her own right, as the first female British press photographer. The exhibition is worth checking out if you are interested in photography or social history, as well as the two main topics Brooms photography of the suffrage movement and the armed forces.

Christina Broom was a small woman, and it must have been difficult to carry her heavy camera and equipment around (Source: Museum of London).

In 1903 at the age of 40, Christina Broom noticed the increasing popularity of postcards, and began photographing local views and events in order to produce her own. Her husband had never fully recovered from an injury acquired during a game of cricket, and she took up photography to provide for her family. For the next four decades Broom hauled her heavy camera and tripod back and forth across London documenting the city and its people. Soldiers and Suffragettes is the first exhibition devoted solely to Broom’s work, and aims to share her story so she can receive some of the appreciation she deserves.

Because of my own interests I was mostly drawn to Broom’s photos of the suffrage movement, but I also found her military photography engaging. Broom was trusted by the soldiers, and she photographed many before they left to take part in the First World War. The photos of soldiers with their families on the platforms at Waterloo Station are particularly moving. The knowledge that this might have been the last time the men ever saw their loved ones is haunting, and the fact that Broom was allowed to capture these significant moments is an indication of how good she was at her job.

Broom photographed soldiers saying goodbye to their friends and family before leaving for the First World War. (Source: Museum of London).

Broom’s pictures of the suffrage campaign are wonderful. She photographed campaigners both famous (including the Pankhursts) and obscure, capturing the sheer number of people involved. It is easy to think that Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst won the vote for women single-handed, but this is far from the case. Broom’s photos depict many of the organisations involved in the campaign, including the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, and the Women’s Freedom League, led by the incredible Charlotte Despard.

A photograph of Charlotte Despard taken by Christina Broom (Sources: National Portrait Gallery).

The exhibition also highlights the economics of the suffrage campaign. Although a supporter of female suffrage, Broom’s main reason for photographing the movement was financial. Supporters of female suffrage would collect memorabilia, the proceeds of which helped to fund campaigning. The WSPU had their own shops, in which they sold everything from postcards like the ones Broom produced to tea sets designed by Sylvia Pankhurst. The exhibition also includes photos of fairs held by various suffrage groups. One of the purposes of these fairs was to raise money. For example, at the Women’s Exhibition in Knightsbridge in 1909, a replica prison cell was constructed. Visitors were charged 6d to see inside and hear about what life was like for suffragettes in prison. The economics of social movements is something that I think gets frequently overlooked, so it was good to see it so prominent in Soldiers and Suffragettes.

Christina Broom’s photograph of a suffragette dressed in a replica prison uniform at the Women’s Exhibition in May 1909 (Source: Museum of London).

Soldiers and Suffragettes is an exhibition that appeals on a whole range of levels. I even enjoyed the section about the technology of developing and printing the images- the backlit negatives of Broom’s photos were beautiful, making the Suffragettes look like vibrant ghosts. I would definitely recommend checking it out over the new few weeks before it closes.

Not only was Christina Broom a pioneer, leading the way for other female professional photographers, she was also very talented. Her images are moving and personal, as well as a fantastic record of a dynamic period in London’s history.

A fashion for women's suffrage

My ideal job would give me licence to stare at people all day. Maybe I should have become a photographer, but while I get the depth of field thing (I think), I never really felt totally at one with a camera. Instead I have become the next best thing for a people-starer: a dress historian.

Beatrice Behlen

Senior Curator, Fashion& Decorative Arts

My profession (no sniggering at the back!) provides me with a legitimate reason – or so I am telling myself – for gazing at others and for dissecting their appearance. I’m not too bothered whether someone is fashionably dressed or looks – or pretends to look – as if they don’t particularly care about their clothes. And when I say dissect I don’t mean judge. Whether the clothes are beautiful, ugly, boring or unremarkable (in my eyes or by general consent) is neither here nor there. I want to know why that particular person chose to wear that particular thing in combination with the other things they’ve put on. (Naturally my curiosity extends to accessories, jewellery, hair and make-up as well.)

When I see a photo or painting showing people, I cannot help but look at their clothes even if that might be far from what the producer intended. Primarily focussing on garments often seems wrong – the equivalent of scouring Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi for references to dress terms. Yes, I’ve been there, but at least it meant that I actually read the Duchess of Malfi, which is awesome (the play, not that fact that I’ve read it). Most of the time, though, I don’t worry about my obsessive behaviour and just get on with it.

Why this long intro about moi? Because I am about to do something – I have already started – that again doesn’t quite feel right. I want to go through some (by far not all) of my favourite Christina Broom photos and regale you with observations about the clothes worn by the people depicted.

(If you want to know more about Broom, listen to my colleague Anna Sparham, who explains so much better than I ever could the appeal of Broom’s photos - watch the video).

Christina Broom was the first female press photographer in Britain

Christina Broom (28 December 1862 – 5 June 1939) was a Scottish photographer, credited as “the UK’s first female press photographer”.

Following the failure of the family ironmongery business and other business ventures, Christina borrowed a box camera and taught herself the rudiments of photography. She set up a stall in the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace, selling postcards of photographs that she had taken. She began her career aged 40, as a photographer in 1903, when she became the main breadwinner of her household. She continued working in the photography trade for three and a half decades.

An early Broom photograph taken along Oxford Street, c.1905.

An early Broom photograph of a J. Lyons tea stall on the platform at Victoria Station, c.1905.

Suffragettes taking part in a pageant organized by The National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, 13 June 1908.

King Edward VII, Queen Alexandra, future King George V and Queen Mary, and Princess Victoria, at the Duke of York’s School, Chelsea, 1908.

When the family moved to Burnfoot Avenue, she used the coal cellar as her dark room. She was assisted by her daughter Winifred, who had left school to assist her mother Albert wrote the captions for the postcards in his neat script. The postcards sold well: in one night-time session, Broom printed 1000.

Christina was appointed official photographer to the Household Division from 1904 to 1939 and had a darkroom in the Chelsea Barracks she also took many photographs of local scenes, including those at the Palace, as well as The Boat Race and Suffragette marches.

Group photograph with Irish Guards on St Patrick’s Day, Wellington Barracks, 1908.

St George and the young knight, at the Army Pageant, Fulham Palace, 1910.

Portrait of Christina Broom taken by her daughter Winifred Broom, prior to the funeral of King Edward VII, May 1910.

The Oxford rowing team at the University boat race, with photographer Alexander Korda at the water’s edge, Putney, 1911.

Bayonet practice at Chelsea Barracks 1912.

Albert died in 1912 and Christina and Winifred moved to Munster Road, Fulham. Christina took the professional name of Mrs. Albert Broom. In the 1920s and 1930s, her work was featured in publications such as the Illustrated London News, The Tatler, The Sphere, and Country Life.

Christina died on 5 June 1939 and was buried in Fulham old cemetery. Winifred was instrumental in safeguarding Christina’s negatives by having them housed in public institutions.

‘Bermondsey B’hoys’ from the 2nd Grenadier Guards inside their base at Wellington Barracks, c. 1914.

A Grenadier Guard with a poignant banner at Chelsea Barracks, Christmas Day, 1915.

Women police officers and Inspector Mary Allen, a former suffragette, at the Women’s War Work Exhibition, London, 1916.

Collections of her photographs are held at the Museum of London, the National Portrait Gallery, the Imperial War Museum, London, the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, the Royal Maritime Museum, Greenwich, the Guards Museum, London the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Local Studies Library the Hammersmith and Fulham Archive and the National Army Museum Maidstone Art Gallery, Kent and the Harry Ransom Center and the Gernsheim Collection, University of Texas, both at Austin, Texas, United States.

Christabel Pankhurst, co-founder of the WSPU, photographed inside The Women’s Exhibition.

Christina Broom with her stall at the Women’s War Work Exhibition, Princes’ Skating Rink, Knightsbridge, 1916.

The first American contingent of the War, briefly in Wellington Barracks, 1917.

Coachmen and visitors at the Royal Mews, c.1920.

On 17 December 2009 a collection of some 2,000 of her photographs, mainly of military subjects, was to be offered for sale by auction at Sotheby’s in London. The collection was expected to make up to £35,000. It failed to sell and was acquired privately by the Museum of London. In June 2015, the museum opened an exhibition of her photographs entitled Soldiers and Suffragettes.

Christina Broom - History

History of Brooms

Know Your Broom History

Broom Making is a Heritage Craft that is still being presented at many arts and craft festivals across the United States. The art of broom making has a rich history that helped develop our country during the Industrial Revolution.

American brooms were hand made prior to 1797. They were an unrefined round broom made from fiberous materials such as grass, straw or hay, fine twigs or corn husks. The broom sweep was tied onto a tree branch for a handle. Cordage used to tie the broom was retted from hemp and flax. Rougher fibers were used to make the cordage that tied a broom. The refined fibers were used for linens.

Cooking at the time was often done in a large open fireplace and dust and ashes were a factor of life. Wood was carried inside the home for heat and cooking. Dust, debri and ash were always left behind from this chore. The home made brooms swept clean the cabin and hearth and kept the home a more pleasant place to be.

The unrefined brooms were inferior and fell apart easily. Their crude nature did not allow them to sweep well. Changes started to come about in the form of a farmer from Massachusetts in 1797. Levi Dickenson used the tassels from his harvested sorghum to make a broom. His sorghum broom swept better than previous materials used, but the broom still fell apart after a time of use.

Broom shops began popping up in many communities after the invention of the foot-treadle broom machine in 1810. The treadle machine became an essential part of the Industrial Revolution. Customers now had a choice of buying a smaller handled broom for use in tight areas around the fireplace or a long handle one to sweep the open wood or dirt floors in their homes and shops.

The less ornate, yet fine craftsmanship of the Shaker’s changed the design of the round broom in the mid- 1820′s. They eliminated the woven stems up the handle and introduced wire to bind their brooms to the handle. Using a vise they used linen twines to sew the broom flat as is the style of brooms made today.

By about 1830, the United States was producing enough brooms to begin exporting to other countries. Canada, South America and Europe were delighted in the quality brooms, but England’s Broom Squires were able to obtain an embargo against Yankee made brooms and held the competition at bay for a time. Eventually our brooms were permitted into England, bringing an end to the twig broom business there.

As people moved west, the broom industry expanded with them. The climate was conducive to growing broom corn exceptionally well in the mid-west. Small broom shops did very well in communities that had no close access to the rail road or ship transport.

The many settlers moving west found a need for a well made broom once they settled down into their new homes. The broom industry continued to grow with the development of large factories. At the time tens of thousands of acres of broomcorn was grown annually in the United States.

Broom making equipment and technology developed in the United States can be found throught out the world. The tassels from broom corn is still used in quality brooms. Our broom industry thrived until 1994 when foreign brooms were permitted into the United States, duty free.

How the Broom Became Flat

Among the family of housekeeping implements, the broom—humble, deceptively simple in design, prone to leaning unobtrusively in corners—does not often enjoy the recognition it deserves. Household cleanliness begins and ends at the tips of a broom’s fibers, whether they’re natural or synthetic. A good, stiff bundle of stick and straw can make equally easy work of a crumb-strewn kitchen or a porch sagging with the weight of autumn leaves. Even at this late, Swiffer-and-vacuum-dominated date, the broom continues to be essential for anyone truly committed to the fight against filth: No assemblage of electrostatic microfibers or carefully-engineered vortex chambers can replace the feeling of sweeping, the quiet force tempered with elegant control that reverberates upward from bristle to hand. But who invented the broom? And why does it work the way it works?

While we don’t have an exact date for the broom’s initial invention, bundles of twigs, reeds, corn husks, and other natural fibers have almost certainly been used since ancient times to sweep up ash and embers around fires and, later, hearths. The New Testament, for example, mentions broom use in Jesus’ discussion in Luke 15:8 of the importance of even one lost soul: “Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?”

Before the 19 th century, broom-making was an idiosyncratic art most were fashioned at home from whatever materials were at hand. The basic design involved binding the sweeping bundle to a wooden stick with rope or linen twine. However, these homespun brooms had short lives and had to be replaced often.

The professionalization of broom-making appears to have begun in Anglo-Saxon England, where artisans known as “besom squires” in the southeastern region would take twigs from the many birch trees in the area, trim and then lash them to poles of chestnut and other woods. A bawdy 18 th -century folk song called “The Besom Maker” makes fun of a female besom maker’s need to search the local woods for materials, and, along the way, other pleasures. The British broom trade of this region would continue for centuries alongside the various homemade techniques, and some practitioners still make brooms today, working as heritage craftspeople.

Russell Lee/Library of Congress.

Modern broom-making truly began, however, with the rise in cultivation of a previously underappreciated crop that would soon be called “broomcorn.” A species of tasseled grass (sorghum vulgare) that somewhat resembles the sweet corn plant, broomcorn’s seeds and fibers had previously been used for animal feed and not much else. Then, according to historian Gregory H. Nobles, in 1797, a farmer from Hadley, Mass., named Levi Dickinson had the idea to use the grass to make a broom for his wife, as well as a few extra to peddle to neighbors. His broom—a round bundle of broomcorn lashed to a stick with some weaving around the top—proved to be more durable and effective than previous models, and it was soon in demand around the region. By 1800, Dickinson and his sons were making several hundred brooms a year to sell throughout the northeastern United States.

Other farmers quickly planted acres of broomcorn and joined the trade, as broom cultivation and construction was a fairly simple side-job that could fit easily into the pre-established rhythms of agricultural life. By the first few decades of the 19 th century, a number of versions of the “broom machine”—a set of vices, clamps and a foot treadle (essentially a tension apparatus that uses the broom-maker’s feet to keep a roll of twine taut as he winds it around the broom corn)—had been developed that made broom manufacturing even quicker.


The two subspecies of Cytisus scoparius are: [2] [3]

  • Cytisus scoparius subsp. scoparius - throughout the species' range
  • Cytisus scoparius subsp. maritimus (Rouy) Heywood - Western Europe, on maritime cliffs, differs in prostrate growth, not over 0.4 m tall, and downy young shoots

Cytisus scoparius is widely cultivated as an ornamental plant, with several cultivars selected for variation in flower colour, including "Moonlight" with deep yellow flowers, "Andreanus" and "Firefly" with dark orange-red flowers, and growth habit, including "Pendula" with pendulous branchlets. [10]

Plants of C. scoparius typically grow to 1–3 m (3.3–9.8 ft) tall, rarely to 4 m (13 ft), with main stems up to 5 cm (2.0 in) thick, rarely 10 cm (3.9 in). Stems are ridged and green. [11] The shrubs have green shoots with small deciduous trifoliate leaves 5–15 mm long, and in spring and summer are covered in profuse golden yellow flowers 20–30 mm from top to bottom and 15–20 mm wide. Flowering occurs after 50–80 growing degree days. The seed pods have long hairs only along their seams. [11] In late summer, its legumes (seed pods) mature black, 2–3 cm long, 8 mm broad and 2–3 mm thick they burst open, often with an audible crack, forcibly throwing seed from the parent plant. This species is adapted to Mediterranean and coastal climates, and its range is limited by cold winter temperatures. Especially the seeds, seedlings, and young shoots are sensitive to frost, but adult plants are hardier, and branches affected by freezing temperatures regenerate quickly. [3] [5] [10] C. scoparius contains toxic alkaloids that depress the heart and nervous system. [12]

As a legume, this shrub can fix nitrogen in the soil through a symbiotic relationship with Rhizobium bacteria.

Cytisus scoparius is found in sunny sites, usually on dry, sandy soils at low altitudes, tolerating very acidic soil conditions. [3] In some places outside of its native range, such as India, South America, western North America (particularly Vancouver Island and Washington, Oregon, and California west of the Cascade and Sierra Nevada mountains [13] ), Australia, and New Zealand (where it is a declared weed) [14] it has become an ecologically destructive colonizing invasive species in grassland, shrub and woodland, and other habitats. [15] [16] It is common in Great Britain and Ireland. [17] [18]

Cytisus scoparius has been introduced into several other continents outside its native range and is classified as a noxious invasive species in California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and parts of the east coast of North America, [15] as well as Australia, [19] New Zealand [20] and India. [21] These shrubs commonly grow in disturbed areas and along utility and transportation rights-of-way. The prolific growth of this species after timber harvest inhibits reforestation by competing with seedling trees. [22] It is estimated that it is responsible for US$47 million in lost timber production each year in Oregon. [23] In New Zealand, broom is estimated to cost the forestry industry NZ$90 million, and to cost farmers NZ$10 million. [24]

Biological control for broom has been investigated since the mid-1980s with a number of species being tested. They include the broom twig miner (Leucoptera spartifoliella), the broom seed beetle (Bruchidius villosus), the broom gall mite (Aceria genistae), the sap-sucking broom psyllid (Arytainilla spartiophila), the Scotch broom seed weevil (Exapion fuscirostre) and recently the broom leaf beetle (Gonioctena olivacea) and the broom shoot moth (Agonopterix assimilella). [25] [26]

Eradication Edit

The method used to remove broom is dependent on the prolific seed cycle. Care should be taken to avoid disturbing the ground or the seeding plants between late spring and mid fall. From late fall, through winter, to mid spring are preferred times to eradicate mature plants. [27] There are several methods, cutting, pulling, burning, herbicide or introducing chickens and goats. [28] Drought areas respond well to cutting while the seed pods are young and still green. In cooler, wetter areas pulling is the preferred method, and hand-operated broom pullers are available. [29] Low temperature fires, such as a grass fire, will increase seed germination and new sprouts may form on the burned stumps of mature broom. A spring fire followed by drought conditions will reduce seedling survival. [30] Often new plants will grow from roots or seed, requiring repeated treatments.

One of main alkaloids of this plant is cytisine. The characteristic constituents are biogenic amines (mostly tyramine in the young shoots), flavonoids (spiraeoside and scoparoside), isoflavones and their glycosides (genistin), as well as allelopathic quinolizidine alkaloids (mostly sparteine, lupanine, scoparin and hydroxy-derivatives), which defend the plant against insect infestation and herbivory (with the exception of the resistant Aphis cytisorum). [31] [32]

Broom contains scoparin, which is a diuretic. The plant also is used as a cathartic and as a cardiac stimulant, which is credited to the presence of sparteine. [33] A decoction or infusion of broom can be used to treat dropsy due to its diuretic action. [34] An ointment can be made from the flowers to treat gout. [35] Oxysparteine, produced from the action of acid on the sparteine, is useful as a cardiac stimulant and has the advantage over digoxin that it does not accumulate in the body. [33]

In Welsh mythology, Blodeuwedd is the name of a woman made from the flowers of broom, meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) and the oak by Math fab Mathonwy and Gwydion to be the wife of Lleu Llaw Gyffes. Her story is part of the Fourth Branch of the Mabinogi, the tale of Math son of Mathonwy. [35]

Broom was considered a sign of plenty when it bore many flowers. [36] However a traditional rhyme from Sussex warns: "Sweep the house with blossomed broom in May/sweep the head of the household away." [35] Broom was also used in a decorated bundle of broom at weddings in place of rosemary when that was scarce, [36] and its strong smell was said to be able to tame wild horses and dogs. [37]

In Italy, the shrub was burnt to stop witches. [35]

The name of the House of Plantagenet, rulers of England in the Middle Ages, may have been derived from common broom, which was then known as planta genista in Latin. [38] : 9 [39] : 1 The plant was used as a heraldic badge by Geoffrey V of Anjou and five Plantagenet kings of England as a royal emblem. [40] The broomscod, or seed-pod, was the personal emblem of Charles VI of France.

History of the Witch Broom (aka) Besom

During the time leading up to the witchcraft trials in Europe, the bread was made with rye. In a small town where the bread was fresh baked this was just fine, but as Europe began to urbanize and the bread took more time to get from bakery to grocer, the rye bread began to host a mold called "ergot".

Ergot, in high doses, can be lethal, a fact that led to the rise in popularity of wheat bread. In smaller doses, ergot is a powerful hallucinogenic drug. it became quite popular among those who were inclined towards herbalism and folk cures. Ergot is mentioned in Shakespeare's plays, and turns up in virtually every contemporary writing of the witchcraft age. In particular, it is the inevitable central ingredient in the ointment that witches rubbed their flying broomsticks with.

When ergot is eaten, there was the risk of death, but when absorbed through the thin tissues of the female genitals, the hallucinogenic effects were more pronounced with less ill effects. The modern image of a witch riding a broomstick was inspired by the sight of a woman rubbing herself on the drug coated smooth stick of her broom, writhing in the throes of hallucinations, and no doubt, some intense pleasure as well. To her unsophisticated neighbors, such a sight would have been terrifying. The lack of an equivalent mechanism for men is one reason why "witchcraft" was seen as a predominantly female phenomenon.

However, It was not only accused witches experimenting with this new hallucinogenic. Records from the 14th to the 17th century mention Europeans' affliction with "dancing mania," which found groups of people dancing through streets, often speaking nonsense and foaming at the mouth as they did so, until they collapsed from exhaustion. Those who experienced the "mania" would later describe the wild visions that accompanied it. This later led to the discovery of LSD in the 20th century by Albert Hofmann, who was undergoing the study of Ergot.

It later became pharmacological knowledge to produce drug-laden balms called "witch's brews." They were distributed as salves with maximum effectiveness. The users of "witch's brews" were, in a very practical sense, using their ointment-laden broomsticks to get high. They were using their brooms, basically, to "fly."

In pagan rituals., As a tool, the broom is seen to balance both "masculine energies (the phallic handle) and female energies (the bristles)". it's used in many traditions as a method of cleansing or purifying a space. In some cultures, the rite of jumping the broom is considered an important part of a marriage ceremony. Many pagan traditions have the bridal couple, jump across the broom during a Handfasting as a symbol of fertility & to signify the establishment of their new household. Prior to childbirth, women used a broom to sweep the threshold of the home, both for protection and to prepare the way for the new spirit to enter.

Witches use brooms in magick and ritual. The pagan broom or "besom" is used in ritual for cleansing the general circle or ritual area. The besom is sweeping away the psychic dirt, getting the area purified for the ritual at hand. A Witch may begin a ritual by sweeping the area with the magick broom, visualizing the psychic dirt being swept out of the ritual area. The sweeping also helps to get the mind ready for the ritual, quieting the mind and narrowing the focus for the witch.

Many Witches keep a besom by their door, or hanging over their door to protect the home from unwanted outside energies. The besom is a purifier and is related to the element of Water. They have been used by Witches to indicate to other occultists that they were resident, or at work, by placing a besom (broom) outside the door. A besom should always be stood upright when not in use as a sign of respect for the element.

The Suffragette Photographs of Christina Broom

Lugging her camera equipment around while in her forties and less than five feet tall she became the first female press photographer.

The Suffragette Barbara Ayrton dressed as a fisher girl to promote the Women’s Exhibition, May 1909

Christina Broom was forty years old when she taught herself how to use a camera. Not an everyday occurrence in 1903. She got help from her teenage daughter Winifred to help in the darkroom based in the coal cellar in their Fulham home and she started making postcards – a growing industry at the time. Her husband Albert, who had badly injured himself in a cricket match so severely he had to give up his Ironmongery business, wrote the captions. She set up a stall in Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace from which she sold her postcards from 1904 until 1930. At her most popular she was printing 1000 pictures a night. This was a time when there were seven reliable postal deliveries a day.

What was different about Christina Broom, born Christina Livingston at the end of 1862 near Sloane Square, is she lugged her camera equipment around with her. Women photographers were not common but the few around became studio based. But jostling for space with men Christina Broom, at less than five feet tall, became the first female press photographer. “Historically she has been seen as an eccentric amateur, which has meant her work hasn’t seen the light of day in quite the way it should have done,” said Anna Sparham who curated an exhibition of Broom’s work at the Museum of London.

Lucy Davies in the Telegraph wrote of Broom:

Because newspapers were for the most part still unable to reproduce photographs, postcards were also used as a means of disseminating news, and Broom’s enterprise happened to coincide with a period of great upheaval in British history – she captured both the Suffragette movement and the First World War with an unusual, almost maternal intimacy. She also turned her lens on the more humdrum details of city life, producing many streetscapes and informal portraits in which her sitters appear wonderfully unguarded.

Young suffragettes advertising the Women’s Exhibition, May 1909.

Women’s Social and Political Union Exhibition stand, probably at Claxton Hall during the Women’s Parliament, February 1908.

Suffragette Charlotte (Charlie) Marsh at Hyde Park rally, 1908.

The Sweets Stall at the Women’s Exhibition, Prince’s Skating Rink, May 1909.

Christabel Pankhurst, co-founder of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), photographed inside the Women’s Exhibition, held at the Princes’ Skating Rink, Knightsbridge, May 1909

The Catalogue and Enquiries stall at the Women’s Exhibition, Prince’s Skating Rink, Knightsbridge, May 1909.

The reconstructed prison-cell exhibit at the Women’s Exhibition, Prince’s Skating Rink, Knightsbridge, May 1909.

Suffragettes in Hyde Park on Women’s Sunday, June 1908.

Charlotte Despard, president of the Women’s Freedom League, at the Green, White, & Gold Fair organized by the Women’s Freedom League, 1909

Nurses and midwives marching in their uniforms to the Albert Hall

Mounted suffragettes taking part in a procession to promote the Women’s Exhibition, May 1909.

The Putney and Fulham Women’s Social and Political Union branch shop and office, 1910.

Women’s Social and Political Union Exhibition stand, probably at Claxton Hall during the Women’s Parliament, February 1908.

The Drum & Fife Band performing in a procession to promote the Women’s Exhibition, May 1909.

A suffragette in historic costume at the Green, White, & Gold Fair organized by the Women’s Freedom League, 1909.

Portrait of Christina Broom taken by her daughter Winifred Broom

The Trials of Collecting the C96 Mauser

As mentioned earlier, the C96 was mass-produced not only in Germany but also in China and Spain, presenting a veritable minefield for the unwary historian or collector. The first issue a prospective collector has to contend with is this: Mauser never licensed the Chinese and Spanish versions, making these “unauthenticated” models less desirable on the collectors’ market than ones made in Germany (though this is not to say a foreign made Broomhandle, like the rare Spanish Royal, is worthless).

Complicating things further is this cold hard fact: all of Mausers records burnt up in 1945 when the Allies took Germany, meaning even the Germans have a hard time authenticating whether a C96 was actually made in the Faderland. Still, this doesn’t mean collecting Broomhandles is fruitless or a money pit.

For starters, because there were so many produced and so little documentation to support them, Broomhandles are usually priced to move in shops and can be found at auctions and gun stores at reasonable prices. Second, there actually are indicators on the pistol that can determine the date and the country of origin. For example, if you come across a Mauser C96 with a faded red number 9 engraved into the butt, you’ve just found an original example from the 1912 run and easily a $10,000 handgun. Finally (and once again because of the guns proliferation and lack of identifying paperwork) historians acknowledge that there are still Broomhandle pistols carried by historical figures that are known to exist but are currently floating around “lost” on the market. The gun carried by Emperor Selassie, for example, is still out there and would fetch a pretty penny at auction.

Accordingly, new collectors would do well to close read their history books when evaluating a C96 for purchase.

Watch the video: Christina Perri - A Thousand Years Official Music Video