Trumper’s cap to hit headlines at auction
By David Sygall, October 10, 2004, The Sun-Herald
One of the most precious pieces of Australian sporting history will be sold next month at an auction certain to rekindle memories of one of our most revered sportsmen.
A cap belonging to Victor Trumper, one of Australia’s first cricketing greats, is expected to fetch about $150,000 when it is auctioned by Lawson Menzies on November 23.
The near century-old cap is remarkable for several reasons. It is one of only three of Trumper’s caps in existence, it features a reverse coat of arms and it was worn by Trumper throughout most of his Test career.
“This Trumper cap rivals any of Don Bradman’s caps,” said Bradman’s former publisher, sports history consultant Tom Thompson of Lawson Menzies.
“Trumper held an integral position within the development of Australian sport and he played an instrumental role in the building of nationhood around the turn of the century.”
There are two other Trumper caps. One dates to 1899 and was sold in 1997 for $28,000. It has no trademark “VT” signature inside the rim. Thompson believes it may have belonged to Clem Hill.
The other, a 1905 cap, was a gift from Trumper during Australia’s tour of England that year and has remained in a cupboard at Lord’s since then.
Ross Barrat, general manager of the Albion Hat and Cap Company – suppliers to the Australian team since 1968 – said the Trumper cap to be auctioned next month holds a unique place in Australian cricket history.
“This is pre-baggy green,” he said. “It’s from the golden era of caps.
“To see the construction techniques, the embroidery and appreciate the work that went into it – it’s fantastic.”
The cap is owned by Brendon Hyde, who kept it in a brown paper bag on top of his wardrobe for decades after his father Victor – named after Trumper – gave it to him.
Hyde, 59, a civil engineer, had no idea of the cap’s value.
“I’ve had this thing all my life,” he said.
“I used to take it around, show it to people at work or whatever. I had no idea it was worth so much.”
Hyde decided to show it to the auctioneers, who immediately insured it for $100,000. “Their eyes nearly popped out,” he said. “We also showed it to some of Trumper’s relatives and some other experts. No one knew this cap existed.”
But it is the story of how Hyde’s father acquired the cap that adds a new dimension.
Hyde said: “My dad was a very good cricketer and played for Sydney Boys High School between 1913 and 1917. He was playing one afternoon in Moore Park in 1914 and Trumper happened to be watching.
“When my father got out Trumper went across to him and said, ‘I believe you will be the most outstanding batsman in Australia one day. I take my hat off to you’. And he gave my father his Test cap.”
Victor Hyde did not pursue his cricket career, instead going on to represent Australia in baseball.
Thompson believes the story is plausible.
“There have been lots of documented examples of Victor Trumper scoring a century and giving his bat to one of the children watching,” he said.
“It was typical of Trumper. He was a very generous-natured person.”
Expert opinion and tests under ultraviolet light date the cap to about 1907. Between 1905 and 1912 the coat of arms on Australian Test caps had the kangaroo and emu facing each other on opposite sides to those on today’s baggy greens.
“It was a big thing for my father to give it to me,” Hyde said. “He gave it to me for my 10th birthday.
“He dreamed I’d be a great cricketer, but I was hopeless.
“My house has been burgled four times,” Hyde added. “I’m just glad they never looked in the brown paper bag on top of the cupboard.”
Hyde said he was not sure what he would do with the money raised from the sale but would probably split it with his sister.