Saturday, June 29, 2019

WWI Royal Naval Division Cap Badges - Second Addendum

It never ceases to amaze of the continuing interest in the cap badges of the WWI Royal Naval Division, and the efforts to exploit that interest by unscrupulous individuals with varying quality of fraudulent examples. Given that this author has fortunately never acquired any interest in this specific area of collecting, I can hopefully maintain a complete objectivity in presenting on-going efforts to defraud my fellow collectors. Previously this blog has presented a series of articles which the reader can refer to on the subject;
Readers should feel free to copy images contained in these articles in order to make side-by side comparisons with the images contained in this article.

The following is the most recent endeavor known to this author, which was recently presented and discussed in the British and Commonwealth Military Badge Collector’s Forum. The collection is extremely well presented in a very tasteful display, however quickly assessed by members of that forum as comprehensively fraudulent. Concurring in that evaluation is a member of the forum, considered an expert, John “Paddy” Newell. Rationale for showing the badges in this article is to provide continuing guidance to both new and expert collectors with pertinent information for their protection.

With both acknowledgement and gratitude to John Newell, as well as the Forum, the following images are provided. It’s a jungle out there, CAVEAT EMPTOR!

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Greenwood & Ball Connoisseur Military Miniatures

Recently, after a very long quest, this author was extremely fortunate in acquiring a specific figure made by the firm of Greenwood & Ball. It is a Rissaldar Major of the 29th Lancers (Deccan Horse) British Indian Army, which is the identical uniform to the 30th Lancers (Gordon's Horse), in near mint condition. Long before Russian “objects d’art” grade figures took center stage with the more affluent military miniature collectors of today, there were Stadden and Lasset figures among others. Another significant artist of the day was Madame Fernande Metayer who I did an article on in the past, Certainly ranking at the very least equivalent to these names in the field of early connoisseur figures is that of Greenwood and Ball. This author is indebted to the research into the two artists by Malcolm Peel, to whom both acknowledgement and gratitude is herein expressed. Mr. Peel wrote;

“The firm of Greenwood & Ball is known to all collectors of model soldiers. Figures made at its tiny workshop at Horsehay adorn dioramas in museums all over the world, and are to be found on training tables in many of the principal military academies of the west. (Author’s note: Am not certain when this article was written, but have had a strong indication that newer collectors may not be aware of the background of the artists, and development of the firm.)

The founder of the firm was John Ambler Greenwood, a salesman by trade, who was born in Yorkshire in 1893. (Author’s note: As many collectors may recall that was a rather propitious year, also marking the founding of the firm W. Britains Ltd.).

John Greenwood served in the Manchester Regiment during World War I and saw active service in France and at Gallipoli. After he was demobbed he worked as a commercial traveller. His rounds brought him into contact with a number of other model soldier collectors who centred themselves on Morrells, a shop in Burlington Arcade, London that would later become famous as Hummels House of Miniatures. In 1935 this group of eighteen enthusiasts met at The Rendezvous Restaurant in Soho and formed the BMSS (British Model Soldier Society). 

As a salesman, his territory included Shropshire. About 1936 he happened to be staying overnight at the shop in Spring Village, Horsehay, where he played chess with Kathleen Ball, the shop keeper’s daughter. After a game or two, Mr. Greenwood thought he would improve on the figures, and “dress” them up a bit. He fashioned a number of chess figures, such as knights in full armour, using “toy” soldiers and plastic wood, coupled with a bit of filing and carving. The interest grew from a hobby to a business. He gave up his job, and he and Miss Ball teamed up to make model soldiers employing two girls to help.

Production of the models was first begun in 1936 at the home Miss Ball, which was the small village shop in Spring Village, Horsehay. Later, production switched to a workshop which occupies a building often referred to as the old laboratory, and was at one time the Horsehay Home Guard guardroom. The workshop consisted of two rooms above the old weighbridge opposite the engine shed at Horsehay Works. Mr. Greenwood was a Captain in the Home Guard during the war, and so would be familiar with this building, and because of its use at that period; it looks as if they must have occupied it after the Second World War. Miss Ball trained a team of four young ladies to assist her in the painting. They have been identified as; Mss. Eleanor Clay, Brenda Yarnaid, Jean Abell, and Cynthia Booth.

Greenwood seems to have begun experimenting with casting figures after a friend asked him to design a chess set around this time. He began making 40mm model soldiers shortly afterwards, but in the 1940s - when serving as captain in the Wellington (Shropshire) Home Guard - he changed over to working in 54mm scale making identification models of German troops for the armed forces.

Examples of WWII German Wehrmacht
Officers in Parade Dress

He was one of the true pioneers of model soldier making. A founder member of the British Model Soldier Society he is credited with popularizing both the 54mm and 20mm scales of figures and alongside Charles Stadden probably did more than anyone to create the modern hobby of military modelling. Greenwood was also an enthusiastic wargamer. He was one of the original 44 subscribers to Jack Scruby’s seminal wargame magazine The War Game Digest when it was launched in March 1957 and an important figure in the development of wargaming in Britain. 

Greenwood & Ball did many dioramas including one depicting the battle of Crecy for West Point military academy in America, and several for the King Charles Tower on the walls of Chester depicting the Civil War. Others includedthe Battle of Flers (1916) and D-Day which were displayed in the United Services Museum in Pall Mall, London and proved an inspiration to many gamers and designers including Jack Alexander. During the Second World War, Greenwood & Ball supplied figures for military training tables, on which operations such as the Dieppe raid were rehearsed. In 1947 they made the figures for the Battle for Freedom Exhibition in London, which portrayed British history in a series of scenes, from the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215 to the crossing of the Rhine in 1945. He also invented a game of indoor cricket. It was followed by a substantial contribution to a United States exhibition of the pageant of Jewish history, depicting outstanding events in that people’s history from ancient times to the establishment of the state of Israel.

Greenwood and Ball models were collector’s items and as George Gush notes in "A Guide To Wargaming", too expensive for the wargamer. A Wall Models catalogue from the late-1960s offers foot figures at 30 shillings (£1.50) a staggeringly high sum by the standards of the day. This author remembers purchasing most of his minuscule collection in the mid 1960's at the Valley Plaza Hobby Shop (proprietor was Woody Bennett) in North Hollywood, for the then exorbitant price of $9.50 USD per figure. Currently the price per figure (in excellent condition) starts around $250.00 USD. 

In 1959 - possibly inspired by his enthusiasm for wargaming - Greenwood launched a cheaper range of unpainted 20mm figures that fitted in alongside Airfix’s new output, which had first appeared the year before. According to Jack Alexander, who new Greenwood, these figures were small, measuring 20mm from the soles of the feet to the top of the headgear. Greenwood did not cast on straps or webbing reasoning that these would stand out from the figure too far to be in scale. "He said" Jack explains, "that if you painted them on the paint would be the right thickness". The cavalry figures featured a novel addition. They had strips of wire soldered to the bottoms of their boots so that they would stand up when dismounted.

Jack Scruby in the US produced this range, much expanded by Greenwood, under license. Scruby also commissioned Greenwood to make a range of 30mm Napoleonic figures for him. Both ranges are still available from Mike Taber at Historifigs. 

John Greenwood moved to West Ayton near Scarborough in April 1959 and continued making the models and fishing in the Derwent near his home, a pastime which gives him time to think of new ideas for his business. He sold his business to Bill Pearce of The Garrison in 1966. He died at the age of 78 years at Ayton near Scarborough in 1971.         

Mr. John Greenwood in later life seated in his workshop

Miss Kathleen Ball married Mr John A. Nathaniel, a quantity surveyor, in Edinburgh in 1951 and she later set up home there. The business remained at Horsehay until about 1956 when they moved to workshop in Broseley Wood. Here they employed only one painter while Mr. Greenwood continued making the models, moulds and castings and Kathleen did the assembly and soldering. Greenwood & Ball’s clientele included American collectors, including film legend Douglas Fairbanks Jnr, who had over 6,000 figures. There is a story that Fairbanks visited the firm, although we haven’t come up with first hand proof that he did.

In September 1985, Mrs. Kathleen Nathaniel, nee Ball, donated to the Ironbridge Gorge Museum about 250 models, of which the Director Mr. Stuart B Smith, described as the most valuable collection of objects which the Museum has yet been given.”

The following extensive series of images should give the reader a fairly good idea of how accurately researched and resplendent Greenwood & Ball figures are. Only the 54mm figures, nominally 1:32 scale, are depicted. Truly unfortunate some are chipped, as well as suffering varying degrees of lead rot (which can be arrested). Readers should please try and appreciate that only a small percentage, representative of the total production spectrum, is being shown. A majority of the figures shown are currently on sale/auction from the collection of Col Sam W. Floca Jr. The reader will clearly discern a bias, shared by the author (being of Scottish ancestry), towards the Scottish regiments of the British Army. If interested see;

29th Lancers (Deccan Horse), Rissaldar Major, Review Order
(this uniform is identical to that of the 30th Lancers (Gordon's Horse)

79th Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders
Officer, Review Order

79th Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders
Officer, Review Order, circa 1957

Line Infantry Officer, Review Order "Roll Call"

27th Punjabi Infantry, Rissaldar, Review Order

1st Regiment of Foot, Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment)
Officer, Review Order

93rd Argyle & Sutherland (Princess Louise's)
Officer, Service Order, circa 1857

1st Duke of York's Own Cavalry (Skinner's Horse)
Officer, Review Order

1st Royal Dragoons, Officer, Review Order

9th Queen's Own Royal Lancers
Officer, Review Order

The Irish Guards
Officer, Review Order

17th/21st Lancers
Officer, Review Order

His Royal Highness Prince Phillip, The Duke of Edinburgh
Honorary Admiral of the Fleet, Royal Navy

79th Cameron Highlanders, Officer, Review Order, Dark Kilt

71st Highland Light Infantry
Officer Review Order

72nd/78th Cameron Highlanders, Colonel, Review Order

16th/5th Lancers
Officer, Review Order

Erinpurra Irregular Force Indian Army, Rissaldar, Review Order

21st Royal Scots Fusiliers, Officer, Review Order, Marching

26th/90th Cameronian's, Officer, Review Order

79th Queen's Own
Cameron Highlanders,
Colonel, Review Order

The Welsh Guards
Officer, Review Order,
Reading Roster

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Coronation Dress

42nd Royal Highlanders,
The Black Watch, Officer,
Review Order, circa 1957

21st Royal Scots Fusiliers, Officer, Review Order

The Life Guards, Officer, Review Order, with Roster

The Royal Horse Guards (The Blues), Officer, Review Order

72nd/78th Seaforth Highlanders, Officer, Review Order

Coldstram Guards, Officer, Review Order, At Ease

King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, Officer, Review Order

42nd Royal Highlanders, The Black Watch, Officer, Review Order

The Parachute Regiment, Officer, Service Dress

71st Highland Light Infantry, Officer, Review Order

93rd Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Princess Louise's)
Officer, Review Order

The Life Guards, Officer, Review Order

11th Hussars (Prince Albert's Own), Officer, Review Order

The Irish Guards, Officer, Review Order

72nd/78th Seaforth Highlanders, Officer, Review Order
Reading Roster, circa 1957

7th Dragoon Guards
Officer, Review Order

13th Hussars, Officer, Review Order

From left to right; 21st Punjabs, Risseldar, 6th Punjabs, Risseldar,
59th Scinde Rifles, Officer, Nurse in Tropical Uniform, 5th Indian Cavalry

The Leicestershire Yeomanry (Prince Albert's Own)
Officer, Review Order

27th Madras Light Cavalry, Officer, Review Order

21st Lancers (Empress of India's), Officer, Review Order

Royal Irish Rifles, Officer, Review Order

Governor General's Bodyguard Madras, Officer, Review Order

130th Baluch Regiment, Rissaldar, Review Order

H.H. Sir Partap Singh Bahadur, Review Order

King's Royal Rifle Corps, Officer, Review Order

51st Sikhs, Rissaldar, Review Order

Royal Horse Artillery, Officer, Review Order

92nd Gordon Highlanders, Officer, Review Order

24th South Wales Borderers, Officer, Review Order

2nd Dragoons  (Royal Scots Greys), Officer, Review order

91st/93rd Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders (Princess Louise's),
Colonel, Review Order

Royal East Kent Regiment (The Buffs), Officer, Review Order

Mysore Transport Corps, Officer, Review Order

Grenadier Guards, Officer, At Ease, Review Order

King's Own Scottish Borderers, Officer, Review Order

Royal Marine Commando
Officer, Service Dress

2nd Dragoons (Royal Scots Greys)
Officer, Patrol Blues

Royal Navy, Admiral, Full Dress

Active Service 1914
 British Infantry Officer

Active Service 1914
British Cavalry Officer 

Royal Scots Fusiliers
Officer reading orders, circa 1957

1st Regiment of Foot (The Royal Scots)
Officer, circa 1956

Those collectors who have, or are familiar with Greenwood and Ball figures, can tell you that there is a consistent feature which identifies the older, i.e earlier figures. The eyes are essentially painted as small fine slashes of black, where as the subsequent newer figures show a fully painted eye. The author has tried to emulate that early style in an officer of the 92nd Gordon Highlanders, Review Order (No.1 Dress), circa 1957, a classic Rose figure he painted a few decades ago.

Several definitive references can be cited as probable candidates for those used by John Greenwood and Kathleen Ball to sculpt and paint their figures. For the Scottish regiments, a painting titled, ‘THE SCOTTISH REGIMENTS OF THE BRITISH ARMY, 1895', by famed military artist Richard Simkin, comes to mind. For the British Indian Army, the classic definitive reference, THE ARMIES OF INDIA, Painted by Maj A.C. Lovett, text by Maj G.F. MacMunn DSO, Adam and Charles Black, London, 1911, is a prime candidate. Another definitive volume is HANDBUCH DER UNFORMKUNDE (UNIFORMS OF THE WORLD), Richard Knotel, Hurbert Knotel, and Herbert Sieg, Diepenbroick-Gruter & Schulz, Hamburg, 1937. Given that a significant portion of the figures in British Army uniforms are circa 1914, a more recent reference work (not available at the time) should be included, MacLeod, O., THEIR GLORY SHALL NOT BE BLOTTED OUT The Last Full Dress Uniform of the British Army, Lutterworth Press, Cambridge, 1986, ISBN 0-7188-2673-6. Also though not available in the timeframe of their effort during WWII, the accuracy of their work can be checked against the uniform plates in, HANDBOOK ON GERMAN MILITARY FORCES, War Department Technical Manual TM-E 30-451, US Government Printing Office, Washington, 15 March 1945.