Appeal for Tank Handbag

The Museum is on the look out for a rare ‘tank handbag’ to add to the Tanks in Popular Culture exhibition and is appealing to collectors for help.

The new Tanks in Popular Culture exhibition, due to open 1 April, will feature tank souvenirs from the First World War together with other items and vehicles that tell the story of the tank as a cultural icon.

During the Great War, the British Public were hugely interested in the new weapon of war and the tanks caused a sensation when news of their successes reached Britain.

Tank souvenirs including models and money boxes were made and the memorabilia became a rallying point for fundraising and encouraging the population to support the war effort.

The Museum discovered a ‘tank handbag’ was made from an advertising poster that was found in the archive, which would make a great addition the exhibition.

Museum Curator David Willey said: “After tanks were introduced in 1916 the public became very interested and excited at this new British invention.

“They helped raise money for the war effort with tanks being sent to towns and cities and politicians and prominent people made speeches while standing on them. Then the public could queue up and buy War Bonds from the ‘Tank banks’.

“Lots of souvenirs were made – including models and money boxes – and we have examples of them which will be on display at the new exhibition.

WW1 Advert for tank handbag

“But one thing we don’t have and that I’ve never seen is a tank handbag produced by Mark Cross in London.

“We have an advert so we know they existed, what they looked like and how much they cost.

“They were made of leather so we are hoping that one might exist somewhere.

“We’d love to find one and are appealing for anyone – including antique dealers and collectors – to let us know if they can help.”

Rudyard Kipling

“Another thing we’d love to find out is proof that Kipling suggested the idea of the museum in 1923.

“That has always been the story that has passed down the decades, but we are lacking primary evidence and would love to find some.

The new exhibition is a bit of a departure for us, concentrating as it does on tanks in popular culture – the wider civilian world.

“This part of their history will inevitably bring back memories for many as it includes toys, models, games, films and books – as well as some of the vehicles themselves”.

Visitors to the Tanks For the Memories; Tanks in Popular Culture exhibition will have the chance to get hands on and explore the themed areas dedicated to toys, video games as well as model making and video games.

If you would like to donate items to the exhibition or can help the Museum source the tank handbag, please contact

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