Object of the Week: Dog collar belonging to Pickles Calendar
24 Mar 2021
It’s 1966 and the World Cup is about to take place in England. Excitement is mounting, but then the trophy is stolen.
Exactly 55 years ago this cup crisis threatened to derail plans for the tournament. That is until a mixed breed collie called Pickles became an unlikely national hero. Alexandra Heaton – at the museum on work experience – takes a closer look at one of more unusual objects on our collection.
What is this bizarre item?
This is the collar that belonged to Pickles, a black and white collie dog who recovered the stolen Jules Rimet Trophy in March 1966. For his heroism, Pickles gathered a cult following and was awarded the silver medal of the National Canine Defence League and a World Cup Collectors Club medal.
How did the World Cup come to be stolen?
On the afternoon of Sunday the 20 March 1966, the World Wup trophy was stolen from a glass display cabinet at the public exhibition in London. This resulted in one of the biggest investigations in Scotland Yard’s history.
The exhibition had 24-hour security but that didn’t prevent the trophy being snatched in broad daylight. Interestingly, the thief ignored rare stamps worth up to £3 million to steal the Jules Rimet. It has since been claimed that a London gangster and his brother were behind the theft.
How did a dog end up finding the World Cup?
The trophy was found seven days after it was stolen, by four-year-old Pickles while on a walk with his owner, David Corbett. The pair had not yet left their own front garden before Pickles began sniffing an unusual package wrapped in newspaper under a laurel bush.
David cautiously unwrapped the newspaper, only to discover the missing World Cup inside. It appears the thief got spooked and disposed of the trophy on the residential street. The mystery man or woman was never caught, so it seems we will never know the true motivation behind the theft.
Was this a big story at the time?
The theft was massive news, not only because it was the World Cup trophy and the tournament was to take place that summer, but also because of the numerous rumours about who had taken the trophy and why.
Lines of investigation ranged from student pranks to a much more serious demand for £15,000 in a package delivery containing part of the trophy. Various celebrities and organisations came forward to offer rewards for the cup’s safe return.
Is Pickles’ collar on display?
Yes, you can see his collar and medal on display in our England On The World Stage section at the museum.
What else has the museum got on display in relation to 1966 World Cup?
We have a brilliant range of objects. Particularly relevant to this story, is a replica of the Jules Rimet trophy. We also have Geoff Hurst’s shirt and match ball from the final. Other objects include Bobby Moore’s boot, Roger Hunt’s winners’ medal, match tickets and 1966 merchandise.
How did the museum acquire Pickles’ collar?
The collar has been in the collection for many years and is on loan to us. It is a very popular item. Visitors can see it again up close when the museum plans to reopen 27 May 2021.