Unique wooden desk plaque with name and rank of Hollywood Legend and Decorated War Hero Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., etched in white on a black ground and mounted on its original teak base (very slightly abraded), with green baize on the bottom, reading:
"COMMANDER DOUGLAS FAIRBANKS, JR. U.S.N.R."
In original unrestored condition with four screws in the corners and an etched white border. 26 x 6 cm.
During the Second World War, Lt. Douglas Fairbanks Jr. (1909-2000), trained with the Royal Navy at the HMS Tormentor Advanced Training and Amphibious Operations Base and at the Commando Training School at Ancharry Castle, Scotland. He acted with extreme courage in his role in the United States Navy Beach Jumpers (initially in Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily & for the remainder of the war, in shallow-water operations throughout the Mediterranean), and some believe that he even became the true-life model for Ian Fleming's James Bond character
For his planning of the diversion-deception operations and his part in the amphibious assault on Southern France, Lieutenant Commander Fairbanks was awarded the United States Navy's Legion of Merit with bronze V (for valour), the Italian War Cross for Military Valour, the French Légion d'honneur and the Croix de Guerre with Palm, and the British Distinguished Service Cross.
Fairbanks was also awarded the Silver Star for valour displayed while serving on PT boats and in 1942 made an Officer the National Order of the Southern Cross, conferred by the Brazilian government. Among his other exploits was the sinking of the corvette UJ-6083 (formerly the Regia Marina Gabbiano-class Capriolo) while in command of a mixed division of American PT boats and British Insect-class gunboats plus assorted other small craft. Fairbanks commanded from HMS Aphis. His case and medals are now in the collection of the U.S. Naval Institute.
Fairbanks became Commander in late 1942, returned to inactive duty in 1946 but stayed in the US Naval Reserve after the war, ultimately retiring as a Captain in 1954 (& writing a book about his wartime experience, "A Hell of A War" in 1993). He was one of those rare few celebrity stars who was more of a hero in real life than on the silver screen.
Provenance: The desktop wooden name plaque was purchased by me at the Philip Son & Neale auction of Fairbanks’ Toy Soldier collection in 1977- he consigned the collection for auction because at 68 years old he knew, as he later said in a 1993 interview with Naval History Magazine, “ my children aren’t in the least interested in history” and because he no longer had sufficient space in his home to display the 3,000 lead figures. ''They've been in crates for years,'' he said, ''but I still know and love every piece'' . The desk plaque was not itemised in the original catalogue but included in a lot of lead figures (that I disposed of separately in 2019 with specialist C&T collectable toy auctioneers).
Apart from this auction of his toys in Marylebone, Douglas Fairbanks Junior's Estate was additionally sold off at Doyle's in New York in 2011 in a landmark sale comprising over 430 lots of memorabilia, clothing, accessories, photographs, books, silver, furniture, artwork and decorations from Fairbanks’ Park Avenue home, surpassing estimates & netting over a half-million dollars.