From Duels to Centuries: Explore The Percy Fender Cricketing Archive

Published 23rd November 2023

By Lissy Tsigarides View profile

Percy Fender (right), wore glasses when playing, though he had no need of them, and preferred an overly long sweater which, together with his moustache, gave him his eccentric appearance making him instantly recognisable.

Discover the extraordinary life and legacy of Percy Fender, a cricketing maverick sometimes described as the best player never to have captained England.

Fender's cricketing prowess knew no bounds, setting records such as the fastest first-class century under competitive circumstances and claiming all opposing wickets on an impressive sixteen occasions. His tactical brilliance, although irksome to the cricketing establishment, solidified his place as a legendary all-rounder. Fender even guarded the goal for The Casuals during their triumphant A.F.A cup win in 1912.

Transferring from the constraints of army discipline, Fender joined the Royal Flying Corps at the onset of World War I, helping to keep Zeppelins away from London skies. However, during the Blitz when the Surrey Oval was bombed, the majority of his cricket memorabilia was destroyed, (all but one of his caps). Today, Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood are honoured to present The Percy Fender Cricketing Archive (Lots 1071 - 1117) in the Antiquarian Book auction on Tuesday 5th December, creating a unique opportunity to acquire a piece of history, by direct family decent.

The auction features signed bats and presentation balls from pivotal matches, offering a glimpse into Fender's sporting triumphs. Beyond the cricketing arena, the collection unveils personal artefacts, each telling a story of a man born in a bygone era.

Fender 1094 Copy
Lot 1094: Cartoon sketch by Gilbert Thomas Webster (1886-1962), dated 1922. Sadly, most of the Tom Webster cartoons depicting Fender were housed at The Oval during the war and destroyed by bombing. This example shows Fender wearing his glasses for the first time. Batting against Hampshire he hit 185 from 294 balls in 130 minutes. At the time he was the only player to wear glasses at the crease.

Among the treasures is Fender's dated mahogany walking stick, believed to be crafted from the remnants of an aircraft propeller—a testament to his aviation endeavours. An intriguing tale recounts Fender's escapade in France, where an overattentiveness to a Belgian officer's fiancée led to a duel. Armed with his fencing skills, Fender swiftly prevailed, earning a sword stick as a silent tribute to his prowess.

Known for his eccentricities, Fender wore glasses on the field despite not needing them and sported an overly long sweater, paired with his distinctive moustache. A football injury in 1918 left him with a leg shorter than the other, resulting in unique adaptations like a rubber piece under his left heel and steel rods in his left pad. The auction presents these very items—a walking stick, a sword stick, a trademark sweater, and the adjusted pads—a testament to Fender's resilience and ingenuity.

A cricketing icon and a man of many facets, the collection stands as a living tribute to a bygone era and invites enthusiasts and collectors alike to own a piece of sporting history.

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