A second Bradman 1948 ‘Invincibles’ tour cap remained virtually undiscovered for 56 years. It wasn’t until the 2004 South Australian Cricket Association (SACA) Test match dinner that its very existence became public knowledge. Retired lawyer, Kevin Truscott, travelled from Melbourne especially to hand the cap over to Barry Gibbs, manager of the Bradman Collection, at the gala function.
The popular belief has always been that players selected for the 1948 tour of England received only one cap. As a Bradman 1948 cap was sold to an Australian collector in 2003, for an amount reported to be in excess of $400,000, the notion of a second cap from this tour emerging would not have even been contemplated.
This assumption was challenged in February 2004 when Barry Gibbs received a telephone call from Jeffrey Kiddle in Melbourne. Mr Kiddle asked if the State Library of South Australia would be interested in receiving a donation of a Bradman cap from a friend of his. Without hesitation, Gibbs replied that the State Library would be absolutely delighted to have a Bradman cap to put on permanent display in the Bradman Collection.
While there are two Australian caps on display in the exhibition, these do not belong to the Library, but rather, are on long term loan. This priceless exhibition, containing some 140 items of Sir Donald’s personal memorabilia, lacked its own cap because it had become his custom over the years to give these much-prized items away.
At this early stage, the year of the cap in question was unknown. Despite this, the Library wrote to Kiddle emphasising the Bradman Collection’s interest in securing this cap and adding, perhaps with a degree of understatement, that ‘it would be a most welcome addition to this world-renowned exhibition.’
About two weeks later Mr Truscott rang from Melbourne to introduce himself as the owner of the cap, and to advise that he had decided to give the cap to the State Library for inclusion in the Bradman Collection. Gibbs could hardly contain his excitement at this unexpected and most generous gift, especially when Truscott told him it was a 1948 cap from Don Bradman’s last Test series. Truscott explained that the cap had been a gift to his father, Edgar, who in his role as Assistant Manager at the London head office of the Union Bank of Australia, had helped Bradman with his banking during the 1948 tour.
There was one small complication however - the cap was in England, in the possession of Mr Truscott’s old school, Haileybury. He attended Haileybury from 1944 to 1949, during the period that his father worked in London. Following a visit to Melbourne by the school’s headmaster in 1991, Mr Truscott agreed to transfer the cap to his alma mater. There, the cap remained on display in the Pavilion until November 2003 when Mr Truscott received an unexpected letter from John Palmer, the Secretary and Bursar at Haileybury, who advised that in light of recent publicity over the sale of Bradman caps, the school had no option but to remove the 1948 cap from the Pavilion and place it under lock and key. This action was taken because of the cap’s likely value and the fact that it would be virtually impossible for the school to find a safe and secure means of keeping it on display.
As a result Truscott put in train ‘certain enquiries’ through Kiddle, culminating in his decision in February 2004 to request the Bursar at Haileybury to arrange the transfer and donation of the cap to the State Library of South Australia.
To safely transport the cap from London to Adelaide, the Library approached Maurice de Rohan, the Agent-General for South Australia in London, and also a Committee member of the Marylebone Cricket Club, to see if he could be of assistance. Mr de Rohan was only too happy to help and he formally took possession of the cap in London on behalf of the State Library in July 2004 and then arranged the transport of the cap to Adelaide, where it arrived on August 17 2004.
After appraisal and treatment by Artlab Australia, the cap was stored in a secure place within the Library where it remained, surrounded by secrecy, until its unveiling at the SACA dinner on November 24, 2004.
While the details of the gift by Truscott to the State Library were being formalised and transport arrangements attended to, there was still the mystery of how there came to be two Don Bradman 1948 caps, each of them with provenance beyond question.
Through extensive research, the Library approached Bradman’s 1948 ‘Invincibles’ team mates, Sam Loxton and Ron Hammence. Both clearly recalled receiving two caps for the tour in question. Also contacted was Barry Jarman, who kept wicket for Australia in the 1960s. He similarly recalled receiving two caps for each of the 1961, 1964 and 1968 tours of England. The Library’s research therefore bringing into doubt the popular notion that players received only one cap on overseas tours after World War II.
The issuing of two caps on the 1948 tour became irrefutable when, in July 2004, Barry Gibbs uncovered the existence of an original players’ contract for that tour. He obtained a copy of the contract and found that Paragraph 32 stated: - “The Board shall provide each player with a blazer, two caps, sweater and tie.” The cap has now completed its long journey home and is on display as part of the Bradman Collection exhibition in the Institute Building of the State Library of South Australia, corner North Tce and Kintore Ave, Adelaide.
In this revamped and expanded exhibition, the 1948 cap from Don Bradman’s last Test series, keeps company with his first Test cap, from the 1928/29 series against England and his 1934 England tour cap as well as the largest collection in the world of Sir Donald Bradman’s personal cricketing memorabilia.