Monday, May 8, 2017

The History of 'Tin Soldiers' from a Russian Perspective

This author readily admits to a certain biased preference towards W. Britains Ltd toy soldiers, primarily due to the fact that they were the predominant brand acquired in childhood, and their ranks were retained and increased in adult life.

However an event directly resulting from this blog, has resulted in opening a new perspective. Approximately a year ago an apparent massive interest in the blog occurred from the Russian Federation, manifest in literally thousands of hits in a very short period of time. That interest has been sustained. Only very recently has continuing curiosity been rewarded by the discovery of a television special presented on Russian television on “tin soldiers”, their history and development, which now has been shown on YouTube.

Unlike many western television specials, this program was not a shallow, abbreviated, heavily edited effort, but an extensive presentation of the subject from a uniquely Russian vantage point. It is with gratitude and acknowledgment to both YouTube and the Russian television network RTG tv, that the following is presented. This author thought that the mystery of the sudden, literally massive, influx of hits had possibly been partially solved.

However, further investigation on the Internet of the established extremely high incidence and volume of 'boting' originating from Russia has greatly tempered my enthusiasm and judgement of any direct correlation with an inordinate national interest in toy soldiers. Unfortunately it has resulted in the total inability to maintain any semblance of accuracy on the number of valid "hits" from the Russian Federation. 

In that context viewing what is believed to be the entire presentation transferred to YouTube still immediately provides evidence as to the strong level of Russian interest in the subject. Hopefully readers of this blog, taking the time and effort, given they have the inclination, will appreciate with a new understanding the international fascination with “tin soldiers” of all manufacturers and all times.




Saturday, April 1, 2017

An Introduction to Post-WWII (Queen’s Crown) British Parachute Regiment Cap Badges

Although not nearly as sought after as WWII British Parachute Regiment Cap Badges (King’s Crown - George VI) there are a significant variety of the regiment’s cap badges bearing the (Queen’s Crown Elizabeth II - circa 1953 to Present). These include the blackened "tactical" version initially adopted for wear during the “Troubles” in Northern Ireland (circa 1968 - 1998), as well as limited usage in the Falkland Islands Campaign in 1982, and continuing to Helmand Province, Iraq and Afghanistan today.

A distinct advantage, because of lack of popularity, i.e. demand, these badges have not been the target of known replication to date. This factor is significantly off-set by the fact that the vast preponderance of government contract manufactured (issued) badges produced are “staybrite” a/a (aluminum alloy) with a slider, and not white metal and/or lugged. However, both slidered and lugged versions, with no maker’s marks exist. The first w/m QC badges having been made by Gaunt, in both voided and non-voided versions. These are shown in Kipling & King Volume II. The majority of w/m (white metal ) QC badges being private purchase, not officially issued.

Apparently no collector has seen a w/m QC lugged badge. Additionally Parachute Regiment black anodized badges, with sliders appear to be a scarcer variant. One group of the latter having been produced by Sharman D. Neill Ltd in Belfast.

In summary, at this time, the following versions are known to exist:

            Black anodized aluminum
            w/lugs – Not marked
            w/slider QC marked Dowler Birmingham
            w/slider QC marked JR Gaunt Bham
            w/slider QC marking unknown Sharman D. Neill Ltd Belfast

            Silver anodized aluminum
            w/slider King’s crown - no marking on slider
            w/slider QC marked Smith and Wright (early font)
            w/slider QC marked JR Gaunt London
            w/slider QC marked JR Gaunt Bham
            w/slider QC marked LB&B
            w/slider QC marked Grove MFG
            w/slider QC marked Dowler Birmingham
            w/slider QC marked HW Timings Ltd Bham
            w/slider QC - no marking on slider

            Silver anodized aluminum
            w/lugs QC marked LB&B made in England
            w/lugs QC - no marking
            w/lugs QC – no marking with odd flattened wings (appear short)

            White metal
            w/slider QC - marked Dowler Birmingham
            w/slider QC - marked JR Gaunt London

Both acknowledgement and gratitude are extended to the following members of the British & Commonwealth Military Badge Forum for their contributions of  knowledge and imagery.

            Frank Kelley
            2747andy
            Gotavapen
            Silverwash
            Phillip Herring
            Demonic
            Fougrasse1940
            Jack8
            Mike H
            JBBOND

The following photographs show both the obverse and reverse of the majority of the badges previously discussed.

Examples of Black Anodized Aluminum (a/a) Parachute Regiment Cap Badges (QC).

Black Anodized w/slider - Dowler Birmingham (Obverse)

Black Anodized w/slider - Dowler Birmingham (Obverse)

Black Anodized w/slider - Dowler Birmingham (Reverse)

Black Anodized w/lugs - Unmarked (Obverse)

Black Anodized w/lugs - Unmarked (Reverse)

Examples of Silver Anodized Aluminum (a/a) Parachute Regiment Cap Badges (QC).

Silver Anodized w/slider - JR Gaunt Birmingham (Obverse)

Silver Anodized w/slider - JR Gaunt Birmingham (Reverse)

Silver Anodized w/lugs - Unmarked (Obverse)

Silver Anodized w/lugs - Unmarked (Reverse)

Silver Anodized w/lugs - Unmarked (Obverse)

Silver Anodized w/lugs - Unmarked (Reverse)

Silver Anodized w/slider - HW Timings Ltd Birmingham (Obverse)

Silver Anodized w/slider - HW Timings Ltd Birmingham (Reverse)

Silver Anodized w/slider - JR Gaunt Birmingham (Obverse)

Silver Anodized w/slider - JR Gaunt Birmingham (Reverse)

Silver Anodized w/lugs - Unmarked (Obverse)

Silver Anodized w/lugs - Unmarked (Reverse)

Silver Anodized w/slider - JR Gaunt Birmingham (Obverse)

Silver Anodized w/slider - JR Gaunt Birmingham (Reverse)

Examples of White Metal (w/m) Parachute Regiment Cap Badges (QC).

White Metal w/slider - Unmarked (Obverse)

White Metal w/slider - Unmarked (Reverse)

White Metal w/slider - JR Gaunt London (Obverse)

White Metal w/slider - JR Gaunt London (Reverse)


To the best of the author's knowledge all of the above badges are righteous, i.e. genuine.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The 1970’s - The Decade of the Restrike in British Cap Badges

Periodically a gem of guidance surfaces to assist the badge collector in the continuing challenge of determining the wheat from the chaff, i.e. righteous badges from the frauds. Newer collectors may take some solace in the fact that the challenge has been around for a while. As you will read, even then the researcher's admonition was pretty stringent. Also note that the majority of guidance is not directed at the obverse of the badges, but the reverse, including markings, sliders and lugs. 

In 1980 the imminent badge collector, Mr. Laurence V. “Laurie “Archer commenced a detailed forensic analysis (aka “working notes”) of what he then politely termed “restrikes”, for the edification and guidance of his fellow collectors. It is entitled; “The 1970’s; the decade of the restrike”. Unfortunately the available documentation focuses only on badges of the Cavalry Regiments of the British Army, but does include limited information on Yeomanry and Territorial Cavalry Regiments.

His level of expertise was fully recognized and appreciated by Arthur L. Kipling & Hugh L. King in their definitive tomes, Headdress Badges of the British Army, as he wrote the chapter on restrikes in both volumes of their works. For those fortunate to possess these definitive references you will note Archer's reference to "KK" numbers.

Not in any way intending to detract, but rather to further promulgate this definitive work, the author wishes to fully acknowledge and express gratitude to Mr. Peter Brydon of the British & Commonwealth Military Badge Forum for his resurrection of a significant portion of Laurie Archer’s in-depth research.

Although this author has attempted to enhance the pages that follow, apologies for some lack of legibility. Given the considered value of information, hopefully a little eye strain can be endured by the reader. In addition, Alan O, a senior moderator of the forum should also be thanked for providing specific photographic examples of some of the cited badges.

  





A 1950's large font Gaunt London mark on a fake Royal Dublin
Fusilier Badge

A fake King's Royal Rifle Corps badge with fraudulent
slider shape

A fake Artists' Rifles (28th Bn The London Regiment) cap
 badge with fraudulent makers mark 

A fake 1st Demolition Squadron (Popski's Private Army)
badge with fake makers mark 

Another fake Royal Dublin Fusilier Regiment badge with
fraudulent J R Gaunt London mark

A fake Lambournes mark on a Wiltshire Badge

A fake Tyneside Scottish badge with a "Made in England"
impressed on the back


A 1970's fraudulent Gaunt Bham mark

A 2nd Volunteer Bn Norfolk Regiment with fake BP&Co mark