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Gentleman's Military Interest Club

Brian Wolfe

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About Brian Wolfe

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    Senior Moderator

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  • Gender
  • Location
    Ontario, Canada
  • Interests
    Medals: British and India (post 1947), Special Constabulary and a few others.
    General: Staffordshire and British Police memorabilia
    Plus odds and ends that capture my interest from time to time.

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  1. Brian Wolfe

    I Hate Moving!

    Hi Stuart, That may be, but what a collection you have! The term "World Class" comes to mind. Regards Brian
  2. Brian Wolfe

    The Value of a Collection

    Hi Veteran, Thanks for your comment. I think if my family were to sell it after I am "gone" (and they will) they would be lucky to get 50% of the worth. However one can hope. Regards Brian
  3. Brian Wolfe

    To The Point, Part 1

    Hi Rick, Thanks for your comment, all well here, though perhaps I need to find my own friends rather than always going to my wife's friend's functions. Regardes Brian .
  4. Brian Wolfe

    To The Point, Part 1

    To the Point, Part 1 British Edged Weapons Problems. Getting Bent. Yet another function where my attendance is somehow mandatory, seated at a round table with barely room for five couples none of whom I know; if I did get to know them I am confident I would not like their company. Men in suits that look like they originally belonged to their fathers with dress shirts that are so small that the top button can only dream of ever being reunited with its intended closure. A failed attempt to hide up the fact that the shirt is far too small made by disguising the open space with the large King Edward’s knot reminding one of a convicted felon, neck in the noose, awaiting the final drop to oblivion. Then there is the inane conversation. The ladies content to swap stories of grandchildren and the men struggling to find a mutually respected sports team. My wife has cautioned me on several occasions about my conduct and what I should and should not say or discuss among those of whom I am unfamiliar. To the question as to whether I follow or have an interest in a certain sports team I now simply say “no”. Apparently this is preferable, according to my spouse, to replying with, “not in the least”, to the sports question. Personally I can tolerate those with single faceted, career related, interests at least they can be interesting and there is a slight chance that one can actually learn something new, making the sacrifice of my time, a finite commodity, somewhat worth the expenditure. I like to hope that at least a couple of these posturing male gorillas attempting to establish themselves to be the alpha silver back has enough intellect to avoid metaphorically throwing their own feces and even accidently offering up a topic of interest; but sadly, no. It’s not that there are no topics that I could be engaged in to discuss, even debate. Of course history, but also science and the feared taboo topics of politics and religion, both of which I am quite capable of carrying on a civilized, or a more heated, conversation. Finally there is an oasis in the midst of this sea of banality, the “seven minute lull”. It has been said that during any conversation, I suspect even more so during trivial banter, there will be a lull in the conversation every seven minutes or so. It is times like these that I find myself wishing there was a terrorist waiting in the lobby ready to rush in, encased with explosives, screaming some ridiculous babble, intent on ending our existence. Oh, would it were so. I assure you that I would run up to this fanatic, hugging him, pulling the detonator pin myself; but, again, sadly no. Just prior to the so-called lull and my wish for escape, any escape, someone said, “The problem with today’s society is social media”. Eureka, the topic for this month’s blog suddenly came to me. No, no, not today’s social media as my “world” is the mid to late 19th century; it is the media of the Victorian times and in particular the “fake news” (yes, I know the modern reference) as it pertained to the British military swords and bayonets of the day. Oh, yes, the topic of what is wrong with the world today quickly deteriorated into what was wrong with today’s youth. From what I see today’s youth is basically not a lot different from the youth “of my day”. I just may not have yet reached the age where I am convinced that I know what the problems of today are and especially how to solve them. Though I suppose some people are wise beyond their age; yep, sarcasm. We are all exposed to today’s media, be it through the handheld devices, laptop, PC, or traditional media. It is apparent that some sources are very bias toward a certain political idealism or popular consensus but while we may think we “own” this phenomenon as it seems so relevant to our times it is nothing new. Reports back to the home front from military actions, for example, have been common place for centuries in the form of official war diaries and more “as it happened” journalism through war correspondents. In the mid to late nineteenth century war correspondents were often “in the thick of it” during battles such as the Zulu and Sudan campaigns. In the case of the Sudan campaign, the Battle of Abu Klea 16 January 1885, some of the war correspondents defended themselves during this vicious battle with their privately purchased revolvers. As a point of possible interest an ancestor of mine, Lieutenant Richard Wolfe, No. 4 Co., HCR/Scots Greys, lost his life defending the British square during this battle. As I have stated above some of the news papers of the time were very quick to point fingers, as to blame military failures, on the political party in power, in particular the Prime Minister. It was found that some of the swords and bayonets failed to perform as needed during the fierce battles often resulting in the death of the British Officer or soldier. This resulted in what was called the 1885 Bayonet Scandal. Basic blame was placed on the poor quality of the swords and bayonets used by the troops. In the case of the Officers they purchased their own swords as opposed to the NCO and other ranks who were issued government supplied weapons. At the time many sword blades were made in Germany and then sold to sword makers in Britain who would then finish the sword and sell it to the government for issue to the NCOs and other ranks, then swords for the Officer class were sold to retailers for private purchase. Some of the tailors, or retailers, would even place “proof marks” on the ricasso as if the sword had passed testing and were therefore “battle ready” which many were not. The “scandal” resulted in the testing of swords and bayonets already in the hands of the military as well as those in stores. It was found that a large percentage of weapons failed the trials; in the case of the socket and sword bayonets for the Martini-Henry this involved both the bending and twisting tests. One of the early excuses for the failure of bayonets in the field was the accusation that soldiers used their bayonets as pokers to keep camp fires blazing. This was a “smoke screen” used by authorities to hide the testing results and associated blame from the public. An article in The Times, 13, January 1885 discounts this quoting an army source as saying, “Any use of a bayonet as a poker would not likely pass inspection the following morning”. This served to discount the original accusation. While the contractors who produced the sub-standard bayonets were never officially named there were two factors uncovered by the investigation in the manufacturing process that caused the defects. “Firstly, the bayonets were all subject to bending tests and, so that the contractor could get the bayonet passed, he left them unhardened. This was necessary because, if hardened, they would break under tests, as inferior steel was used in the manufacture. The second reason was that some contractors used casehardening so that when bayonets were manufactured they were ground, then hardened and were then passed on for final grinding. If the bayonet was not much oversize then the bayonet would probably be all right, but if it were too much oversize all of the casehardening would be ground off, leaving the soft metal.” Source: “British Military Bayonets from 1700 to 1945” by R.J. Wilkinson Latham. The Patterns involved in the scandal, the Pattern 1853 sword-bayonet and the Pattern 1876 socket bayonet, were replaced by the Pattern 1886 which brought to an end the problems experienced. Future sword and bayonet manufacture was dominated by the firms of Wilkinson and Mole and manufacturing of weapons from firms in Germany ceased. In this blog we looked mainly at the British bayonet and the associated scandal, in next month’s submission (Part 2: Staying Sharp) we will discuss the earlier problems with the British Cavalry swords, in particular those used during the Indian Rebellion of 1857 (also known as the Sepoy Mutiny). Regards Brian
  5. Brian Wolfe

    I Hate Moving!

    Thanks Paul. Regards Brian
  6. Brian Wolfe

    Avatar Names; Why?

    Sorry for the delay in responding, it is garndening season here in Ontario and I got completely distracted, even more the advancing age usually causes. I thought I responded to your comment, JustinG, and you replied but I don't see it here so I either imagined it (age again?) or the posts have gone astray. I do like your avitar as it shows imagination in that it reads "to the rescue" and I understand it is a reference to your career. Well done! At times I think that I use my real name mostly because I lack the imagination to come up with a good avitar name. I can't seem to come up with a name or title for my collection room. Some fellows call their collection room their bunker or man cave etc. but all I could come up with was "collection room". I do call my office "The Home Office" as not only is it my office in my home but also a reference to the British Home Office, not that I served in the British Police Service but as more of a tribute to those members who have and or are serving there. Strange that we don't think to thank a cop for his or her service even though they could be putting their lives on the line every day over what could be a career spanning decades. So to all the police officers everywhere, "Thank you for your service". Back to original or catchy names for a collection room, since I have expanded the collection into three rooms I now have a greater problem I still call two rooms, the collection room and the home office but the middle room just got "the middle room" as a name, how unoriginal was that? Hello Stormy, I must say that your avitar name is one of the best stories regarding avitar names. What can I say? I think I recall that you have mentioned that before on the forum, quite a while back. I would use the name of my ex as an avitar name but the rules of the GMIC forbid swearing. Regards Brian
  7. Brian Wolfe

    Iconic Firearms - what do you think?

    Germany’s MP40 No other firearm is as iconic with WWII and the Third Reich as the 9mm submachine gun, known as the MP40. Designed in 1938 by Heinrich Vollmer it was heavily used throughout WWII on all fronts by infantry and paratroopers. Due to its relatively slow rate of fire, 500-550 rounds/minute and using a light round, the 9X19mm parabellum round it was a very accurate weapon. Like most sub machineguns the range was fairly limited with an effective range of 100-200m and a maximum of 250m, however within the effective range it was quite deadly. The specimen shown is from my collection. Regards Brian
  8. Brian Wolfe

    I Hate Moving!

    I Hate Moving! It has taken a while but the Home Office has moved two doors down the hall and the vacated room is now converted over to a second collection room. My dear astute wife is starting to suspect a form of Lebensraum is taking place within our home. She has countered my resent move, generated by the need to expand my territorial claims, with a policy of her own which states that she will concede the space but this is the last time appeasement will be offered before some undisclosed action is taken. I have assured her that if this latest claim is granted then I will make no further territorial claims. Of course the agreement was written on a piece paper which she proudly waved to the family proclaiming that there was to be peace in our time. This is strangely starting to sound familiar. Like the size of most collections mine has waxed and waned over the years yet continued to survive in one form or another to the point where the space is filled and a move was necessary. You will notice, as did my dear wife, that the option to sell off large sections of the collection never seemed to enter this equation. To be fair I have reduced the collections somewhat in the past couple of months, getting rid of a lot of “smalls” both military and non-military antiques. Naturally some of the items were used in trade for other collectables and the cash realized from the balance of the sold items was quickly rolled over into even more military collectables. My latest obsession is a renewal of an old passion for British military swords, specifically Victorian and older. So while at first it might have appeared that I was indeed reducing the size of my collection (my initial intention) as soon as the cash was in hand something took hold of my better judgement and more items were secured. The other factor that foiled my good intentions was that the items traded and sold were indeed “smalls” but the items I gained in their place were swords; so not so small. Even though the move was not of any great distance there was the usual complaining from the staff here at The Home Office. The computer needed to be moved and hooked up and book cases relocated, new sword racks constructed and a lot of rearranging so that neither collection room looked too sparse, though the new room (former office) has ample space for a couple more years of collecting available. A large and very comfortable arm chair was “liberated” from the family room and after turning it on its side, with a lot of manipulation through the door way, found a new home. I doubt this chair will be reclaimed by the family as it was very difficult navigating it into the room, though it may end up costing me for a new chair to replace the vacant spot in the family room. Perhaps they won’t notice. Since I seldom post photos of myself or the staff members here at The Home Office I decided to make an exception this time, especially for those who wonder if there really is a Home Office complete with staff. The photo below is of us and our move and a second photo thrown in just for fun shows a group of friends at a military show contemplating the purchase of a new addition to one of their collections. The fellow looking on from the right hand side of the photo seems to have done well, scoring some nice Swiss military equipment. Well done! That’s all for now as I am going into the new room with a cup of coffee to relax in the arm chair and admire the new additions to the collection. Happy collecting. Regards Brian
  9. Brian Wolfe

    The Value of a Collection

    Hi 2dresq, Thank you for your comment, all very valid points. As you said you can't take it with you and unless my health fails and the kids put me in a "home" I'll be collecting until I stop breathing. Then again if I am on life support and assisted breathing I will be collecting online. The photo I included is of only a portion of my collection as I felt I needed to add some sort of photo with this blog. At least this time it was more relavent than usual. You have also hit on the very thing that makes the GMIC a great place to belong to in that we do make friends here, and many of them long term friends. By the way I really do like your avitar name, very cleaver and leaves me wondering about the inpiration for its creation. Well done. Thanks again for your response. Regards Brian
  10. Very nice helmets and especially since they belonged to your father. Thanks for sharing them with us. Regards Brian
  11. Brian Wolfe

    Group to Swr./L.D./C.L.D./Nb.Ris. J.S.Sandhu AC

    Hello anand singh, Thank you for your comments. I just checked the naming of these medals and the 9 year medal must have been impressed incorrectly as it is indeed CLD. Your suggestion certainly would be the logical progression in rank. I will make the changes to my records. Many thanks. Regards Brian
  12. Brian Wolfe

    The Value of a Collection

    The Value of a Collection A lot is said by collectors as to what their collection is worth. Last month I threw out a subject for dialogue regarding the use of avatar names on the Social Network sites and one of the comments was in regard to collection value; more specifically that there is a need for anonymity to help prevent theft. This is a very valid point indeed and one that could generate much discussion on its own merit. It has been pointed out that one may even discover someone’s identity if they use an avatar on eBay, for example, and their proper name here on the GMIC. This may be accomplished by paying attention of what is in the background of the picture of the posted item for sale then noticing the same background here on this forum. I’ve seen this myself in regard to one of the GMIC members who also sells on eBay, though I only know his real name as we both have been members here for a long time. I am also guilty of this in that I used to sell a lot on eBay and always employed the same grey corduroy back drop cloth in every photo both on eBay and on the GMIC. I usually wait until later in a Blog to get sidetracked but this time I started with being distracted, though it may be argued that it was after the first paragraph when this blog went off the rails, so-to-speak. I leave that up to you. One comment, last month regarding security started me thinking, which is the very reason for these Blogs, about my collection and the attractiveness to criminals that it might present. I do have a security system but not of the James Bond laser, poison gas type. The concept that someone could easily cut the phone lines just outside of the house has been eliminated when I built a shop attached to the side of the dwelling. The lines all remained in the same location and the shop was built over them so the lines are eight feet below the surface of the yard and enter the dwelling inside the shop. We live in a small community and an extremely quiet neighbourhood where the biggest event of the year is when the first robin arrives back from the south in the spring. So it is a fairly safe and secure neighbourhood in a small and low-crime town. This left me with looking at what my collection was actually worth and with this exercise came a rude awakening. Exactly what is any collection worth? Certainly if you have kept good records of the amount paid out for your collectables you could state the cost of a collection. Probably a figure best kept locked away in a secret safety deposit box and the key hidden from your spouse. What you paid and what it is actually worth are two completely different figures. If a criminal broke in and was able to steal whatever they wanted what would they take? Firearms would be on the top of the list I am sure and then anything they could easily sell, usually to support their drug habit. Unless you have diamond encrusted military awards or solid gold medals the criminal may have to sort through dozens, perhaps hundreds of military medals in order to take only those made of silver. Keep in mind most thieves are “grab and run” types and do not take the time to sort, especially if an alarm system is blaring away. Most pawn shops are hesitant to take in any quantity of so-called collectables, though anything that could be easily melted down may be more desirable to the less honest pawn shop owner. I would say that electronics would present a more attractive target than 200 bayonets, even with their original scabbards. Moving on from the possibility of criminal activity because you have either taken precautions to “harden the target” (police terminology) or preserved your anonymity by not allowing every Tom, Dick and Harry in to see your collection, let’s look at post mortem sales. This may be the fate of a lot of our collections. Certainly our own mortality is not in question; unless you have found out something I haven’t. If you have, sharing it would be much appreciated. So here we are in a state of personal extinction, dead as a dodo bird and securely under six feet of dirt, with your collection in the hands of your heirs. I have found that spouses and family are fairly quick to dispose of the deceased collector’s hoard. It is not because of greed and the desire to pick the carcass of the estate clean, in most cases, at least in my opinion. It is a time of grief and your collection is a small part of the whole issue at hand. One should never discount how much your hobby has irritated the family and their point of view may not be that of the selfless parent or spouse but rather has always been a silent point of contention. There may be a small bit of resentment over the time and money you have lavished on your collection, time and attention, if not money, that could and should have been spent on them. This could be a moment of self-reflection for me, if it were not for my deep seated lack of empathy; my dear wife calls me her, “cold hearted old bastard”; that rather sums me up on so many levels. In retaliation I call her, “yes dear”. Perhaps that should make me even more reflective but, nope, it doesn’t. I’m sure my collection will be sold as soon as they can pry it from my cold dead fingers. At least I hope they will wait that long. So you are gone and your heirs go to a dealer or two and offer your collection for sale. What could they expect to see out of your “investment”? We’ve all heard such discussions between collectors and it usually goes something like this, “Those @#$%& bastards (dealers) will only give you ten cents on the dollar”. With this in mind I asked around and found that the range from those dealers who would actually offer an estimate varied greatly. The highest was from an American source at 60 cents on the dollar with the average here in Ontario at 20 to 25 cents on the dollar, Australia came in around the same as here. Bear in mind that any dealer must consider the purchase of a whole collection as a long term investment tying his money up perhaps for years. The highest estimate was from a collector/dealer with the lowest estimate from a dealer with a “brick and mortar” shop and therefore with the highest amount of overhead to cover monthly expenses. The average came from dealers who set up at shows with little to no overhead. Looking over my own collection, which includes firearms (all deactivated except my muskets, they are all in working order), I realize that I have two room filled with history’s unwanted junk. Obsolete tools of war and medals to persons long gone that tell no real story on their own. All items that any self-respecting thief (an oxymoron is I ever wrote one) would not risk his freedom to take. This, you may think, would be a bit sobering, even depressing for me and it would if I weren’t so self-absorbed and believed my collection is indeed my treasure trove of historically significant objects. So what is your collection really worth? To others perhaps an average of 40 cents on the dollar for your investment but more importantly to people like us it’s priceless. Happy collecting! Regards Brian
  13. Brian Wolfe

    Avatar Names; Why?

    Thank you for your comments "E". One of the issues I have problems with, keeping in mind that my wife says that I am the most paranoid person she knows, is allowing anyone to view my collection. Unless the person in question has been known to me for quite a while and we have built a relationship based on trust I simply am not interested in "showing" my collection. Most of these trusted friends are fellow collectors of like mind when it comes to security. There are those who might look at my deactivated automatic weapons collection and then through the telling and retelling of the story gets to the "street" as this crazy old guy who is sitting on a pile of working machine guns. Not a story you want to be told around the wrong crowd. The crazy old man part notwithstanding. I know of one fellow who will change his avitar on a regular basis because he has a following on the internet and is seen, rightfully so, as an expert on one particular brand of sporting rifle. He is known as Mr.(the band name of the company) and other collectors watch the on line auctions and if he is a bidder they know the item has to be rare. This drives the closing price up. His changing of his avitar is not so much security as it is economic, which is still a good enough reason not to use your own name making it even easier for others to watch your movements. On a more positive note. One evening a decade ago the phone rang and it was a fellow GMIC member calling me from the other side of the word wanting to speak with me in person, so-to-speak. He had easily traced me though the internet. The fellow and I have been very good friends ever since, communicating several times a week through email and once in a while through Skype. I will leave this entry with the thought that using your name rather than an avitar is not completely a bad idea; nor is it totally a safe one. Regards Brian
  14. Brian Wolfe

    Avatar Names; Why?

    Thanks for your comment Ulsterman, All good points from the membership and ones I would agree with completely. I recall that incident you have mentioned, not the high note in the collecting world to say the least. Using my own name certianly makes me think twice about blurting out some comment that I would regret later. On the other hand if I decided to "take on" a knob such as the one you mentioned it would be without reservatiion. For the most part those on the internet out to do harm are rarely worth the time to get into a confrontation, I just can't be borthered to put in the effort as they are not worth my time. Regards Brian
  15. Hi fellows, I’m sure there were many examples of use what you have the budget is tanked in the past. I really like my “Canadian” helmet even though it is in the poorest condition of the rest of the collection. Regards Brian