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Brian Wolfe

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About Brian Wolfe

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    brian.wolfe@bell.net
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    Male
  • 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. Congratulations on the new addition. This hobby is never dull, always something to challenge the collector's knowledge. Regards Brian
  2. Congratulation on an excellent addition to your collection, well done. Regards Brian
  3. Guarantees in Life – Guaranteed “If you purchase our product we guarantee it will improve your life and you’ll be a happier person”. “Use this product and we guarantee you will be 150% more likely to stop smoking.” First off there are no guarantees in life; based on the theory of probability some external force with assert itself which changes the basis of the initial guarantee’s claim. Secondly, in the second example, 100% is the maximum of any given quantity. One could argue that government could, and at times will, spend 150% of a budget. However this is far from accurate as “they” have, in fact, spent 100% of the budget and then exceeded that so-called set amount by an additional 50%. This would make a guarantee only a proposed likelihood of a claim based more on speculation than fact. That is, of course, negating the possibility that the guarantee is an out and out lie in the first place. Oh man, I just realized how obsessive I am! So, what guarantees, or more accurately “likely outcomes to a given action”, do we have in life? Well, if you cheat on your spouse there is likelihood (guarantee?) that you will be ordering dinner for one from your local Chinese Take-Out restaurant in the near future. There is the old joke of a guarantee of starting a business, any business, and after the first year having one million dollars in your bank account. The secret is to start with two million. If we apply this to collecting, and you know I will, and how to avoid fakes and counterfeit collectables there must be some rule of thumb that guarantees you will not be “taken in”. There indeed is a guarantee; one of the few cannot fail actions you can take to avoid being a victim. That action is to avoid collecting all together. If you are going to collect anything there will always be a chance you will run into the occasional fake on the market being offered as an original. You can, however, mitigate your chances of being parted with your cash by knowing your subject as well as possible. It should be noted that there are several companies, both in the Western and Eastern “worlds” that produce excellent reproductions of historic weapons. These are meant for those who are engaged in historical recreations of battles as well as those wanting an ancient weapon without the horrendous cost of an original. For example those studying ancient Greek or Roman history may like to display one of the iconic helmets on the book shelf along with the appropriate texts. Even iconic movie swords and props can be purchased at a reasonable price compared with the original “used on set” props. The problem for the serious collector of authentic arms, or other militaria, is when these copies are aged and distressed to mimic originals. This is where the knowledge of your subject is indispensible. The one item that comes to mind at the moment is the WWII Japanese NCO sword, please, oh please do not call them “samurai swords” as they are not, these are made in China at the present time. The first tipoff is that they are pristine, a case of looking too good to be true. If you want one for your office or den and want to keep the costs down then by all means purchase one. I meant your home office not your place of work; we need to be considerate of those who do not appreciate weapons in the workplace. Personally I think a nice brace of duelling pistols in your office desk drawer sends a great message to staff. At least, here at the Home Office, staff is aware that I am open to discuss our differences, at least from ten paces away. See image below. A resent post regarding a British police truncheon brought out several good ways to test for authenticity. Sending paint samples away for analyse, exposing the paint to black light were a couple I can recall. Taking samples is a bit too invasive for my liking though black light has been used for years on antique furniture as new glues are florescent and old glues such as hide or animal glues are not. The problem I find with any tests you can perform is that they are always after you have made the purchase. Many of the larger museums are allowed to perform tests prior to making a purchase however an amateur collector seldom, if ever, would have that luxury. This is not an indictment of those suggestions as they can indeed be helpful, but far too often we need to make decisions “on the spot” so-to-speak. This is where we discuss the real number one way to avoid being taken in by fakes; know your subject. Even if gathering information and getting familiar with the subject of your collecting delays the actual acquiring of specimens it will be worth it in the long run. Believe me sellers, dealers if you like, do like to gossip and being easily fooled gets around, and so don’t get labelled. If you make a purchase later on after you establish yourself as a more or less knowledgeable collector it will probably be passed off as’ “it happens to everyone”. As an example, I wanted a British Mk.III (Turtle Shell) helmet for my display of WWII British firearms. In the course of my search I found several Mk, IV helmets, at shows, which were clearly marked as D-day helmets even though the Mk. IV was not issued until well after WWII. The easy to discover give-away is in the helmet’s liner. The Mk. III liner looks a lot like the liner for the Mk. II, sometimes erroneously referred to as the “Brodie” helmet. The Mk. IV has a liner that looks like a sphincter...oh, grow up (I so hesitated to use that simile, as you can imagine). Knowing this and that the rivets are lower on the Mk. III making it ride higher on the soldier’s head helped me avoid purchasing the wrong helmet, regardless of the seller’s insistence that the Mk. IVs were examples of D-day helmets. I guess they thought D-day was in the 1960s. Swords, my current obsession, also have “tells”. If a British sword simply doesn’t feel correct in the hand, that is to say the balance is too point heavy as an example, you should be wary. This is not true of all British swords; however, if the “fit and finish” seem off then don’t touch it. Even if this particular sword is authentic you don’t want a specimen where the fit and finish is “off”. There will always be another one coming your way in time so be patient and wait a little longer for a better example; one you are comfortable purchasing. Another point I will discuss is in regard to dealer and collector/sellers. Dealers have, we hope, a reputation to maintain while a seller has little to nothing to lose if you are “taken in” by something he is selling. Caveat emptor [buyer beware] should be a warning for the buyer, however, far too often it is the defence offered by the scam artist; a defence minus a refund or an apology, of course. So should you trust the dealers? Oh, Hell no! My advice is to trust no one, not until they prove themselves trustworthy. In collecting the question is not, “Are you paranoid?” but rather “Are you paranoid enough?” I don’t have a lot of spare time on my hands to search for swords so I purchase all of my specimens from one collector/seller whom I have grown to trust completely. My spare time is limited so this makes collecting less stressful for me and allows me more time for our business which always seems to “run” into the weekend. I also like to handle specimens before I make a purchase therefore I avoid on-line dealers and certainly on-line auctions. It reminds me of the old saying about buying a “pig in a poke” (Google it if you have never heard this before). Finally do not get caught up in a collecting “one-upmanship” competition with a fellow collector. That often leads one to making rash decisions on purchases. That has not ever happened to me; however, one time at a show a sudden bout of the flu hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks (tonne in metric). I was rushing to get out into the fresh air and spied a sword, stopped and made a rash decision to purchase based mainly on price. I suppose there were alarm bells but I dismissed them as just the spinning and ringing in my head caused by my flu symptoms. Yes, it was a copy, which I gave away to a fellow who wanted it to hang in his living room over the fireplace. He was a happy camper, his wife not so much so. Last caveat and story, I promise. First the caveat; do not pay a nickel, or a penny for that matter, for a story. They are not to be confused with provenance and worthless other than for entertainment value only. While at a show I stopped at a table of a “seller”, a man in his mid sixties, I would estimate. On the table was a selection of Third Reich memorabilia and a few WWII Italian items. Among these was an Italian Fascists dagger that had an extremely elongated eagle’s beak. You see these from time to time at shows, the real ones (see image below), and they are called Italian Air Force Officer’s daggers or Italian Fascists Youth daggers, I’m really not sure which they are. I do have two originals in the collection, one that my father brought back from the war. He was flying British soldiers back from Italy to Britain and during a “lay-over” he purchased the dagger from a kid for two cigarettes, yes a kid and for two cigarettes...again grow up, it was the times. Mean while back to the show, I said to this seller that the dagger he had looked like a piece that was made post war for sale to the returning veterans and not an original. This was fairly common and many returning vets wanted a souvenir of their trip. Everyone both in Italy and Germany in the post war era needed to make money so it was pretty well open season on gullible tourists. The seller was infuriated, to say the least. I will be blunt now. Why do fat guys think they are intimidating? One punch in the chest and they go down like a bag of potatoes (Solanum tuberosum, for you science guys and gals) and away to prison go you. It’s a no win situation so rein it in chubby! Yes, I too am over weight and old so I would probably not survive an altercation either; no prison for a corpse. Is that a positive spin to that scenario; perhaps not. He insisted that he got the items from a former high ranking German officer who was a friend and neighbour of Hitler himself (this just kept getting better and better). He went on to say that he had purchased the whole collection and had to take the “Italian crap” to get the good “German stuff”. I am part German and we know the Germans make good stuff, however my wife is part Italian and now he was treading on thin ice, not a good idea for such a rotund gentleman. I said, “So this German officer was a neighbour of Hitler’s?” “Yes”, he replied,” they lived on the same street.” To this I quipped, “Do you think they car pooled to work every day?” To that I was told where to “get off”. You can always tell when a bully type is backed into a corner, they can’t control their temper. A little life skill tip: On the “street” the one who can’t control their temper becomes the target.” There is my community service tip for today. See what you can learn here at the GMIC? Interestingly, in closing, the dagger was worth something in that it told the story of the history of these daggers, in a manner. His story, while mildly entertaining was worthless, however pissing this fellow off was, for me, priceless. Until we meet again here at “News from the Home Office”, happy collecting. Regards Brian
  4. Hi Nightbreak, So your the fellow who reads my blogs. Good to hear from a fellow over taxed and under-appreciated, Canadian. Happy fiirst day of spring.😎 Regards Brian
  5. Hi Mark, I must have been experiencing a senior's moment when I wrote "William" as when I review the photos now it looks clearly like a "G" for George.Looks like I was not the only one to have missed that, except for you,. well done. I have written several articles for publications in Australia and New Zealand and some have been on early British police. Suddenly people started to call me the "British Police Guy" which I am not. Perhaps I should forward this post to those I correspond with as proof that I am not an expert on matters police. British or otherwise. 🙄 I will say this with some degree of confidence regarding the "faking" of such items. Most copies seem to come from India and Pakistan, this is with items other than truncheons but could include them as well. The nature of those who produce copies, replicas or fakes is one of financial gain, call it greed if you will. This is not a racist remark, only a fact of business. They produce a multitude of any one item, be it swords, daggers, medals etc. this is because of profit. There is little to no profit in reproducing a truncheon, they are just not that popular on the collecting market. Since we don't seem to see a lot of these, and if we did they would be in the form of the type of truncheon we normally see and not the shape of the one you have, this is not likely to be a target for the faker. Another factor in determining an authentic specimen of any collectable is in the finish. In the case of swords, the fit of the parts and the quality. Since I have retired I have become a professional wood turner, turning (no pun intended) a long time hobby into a paying proposition. I could copy any truncheon on the lathe, which is not great feat. However when it comes to the paint this is in the realm of an art restorer to copy the age and deterioration over time. Once you know your topic it comes down to a gut feeling about collectables. This is covered in the book, Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. Perhaps this would be a good topic for another blog in the future here on the GMIC, which no one reads. Makes one wonder why I bother...sucker for punishment I suppose.🙁 I hope this truncheon is the start of a fine collection. Regards Brian
  6. Hi Mark, I would say that you have a 100% original piece. The truncheon is in excellent condition yet the paint is showing its age, which is exactly would one would expect. I have a feeling this was used more like a tipstaff in the sense that it showed the officer's authority rather than something that was used to get a criminals "attention". Possibly a rural constable. I would put this one in my collection in the blink of an eye, had I the opportunity. Well done on an excellent William IV specimen. Regards Brian
  7. More great finds, thanks for sharing them; you have made me rethink and consider this area of collection Regards Brian
  8. Space: The Final Frontier or the Confessions of a Addict It starts out quite harmlessly, perhaps at the insistence of a friend, peer pressure as it has become to be known. It seemed harmless enough; after all it was just a “one off”, and not something you were intending to become a habit. Not like those others, all consumed by the drive for more. You know them, with their excuses of being able to stop at anytime, no one is getting hurt and staying well within their financial parameters. After a while you started to look for more sources, buying wherever and whenever you could, tying the purchases to every aspect of your life. Vacations, business trips and days off all centering around getting more until you start using money you have yet to earned, getting out the plastic, the card, the old swipe and carry; “they” make it seem so easy. Then comes month’s end and payment must be made, made for product that you have already acquired and it seems pointless to have to pay for something you already have. Pay the minimum and you’re good for another month of obsession. Yes, it starts out as one item, a single item, a curiosity some would call it, then another similar or related object makes itself available and you have two; it’s only two, a pair nothing more. Besides they look good displayed on the mantle or bookshelf, what harm could that do? Then, much without you even realizing why, a third appears and you have three, you now have a collection my friend; a small collection to be sure but a collection all the same. No big deal it’s not that it takes up a lot of space; after all you can keep or display the trio anywhere. This is where a normal, rational human being would hear warning bells, a red flag would be raised or some sort of alarm would sound. You are not quite at the “tipping point” that point where you are still part of the majority of humans, functioning like everyone else. Without warning of any kind a fourth item presents itself and you think, “Who wants to be just like everyone else”? You’ve now crossed that line, the Rubicon of no return; you are a collector my son, one of the lost, the hopeless; the obsessed. At first being obsessed is not a real problem for you or even your spouse, there is lots of room to accommodate your collection or in my case collections. It all fits well in a corner of the basement or your office/den and it keeps you occupied and it is all pretty harmless, or so it seems. As the collection grows ever larger, much like an infestation, hardly noticed for a long time, you find the little area that you have been allowed to use to amass your “stuff” is getting too confined. You and your collections are starting to feel choked, smothered almost trapped, the need for space, more space, is becoming a driving force in your life. Just when you and your collection are starting to suffer claustrophobic anxiety one of the kids is going to University. An empty space is now available and there is no need for an additional guest room and you certainly are not going to entertain the child’s moving back home. What to do. You and your spouse have joked about how to make the room unavailable in case the graduate decides to take up residence with you again until “they find themselves”; a common excuse to free-load off Mom and Dad. The idea of filling the room to the top with concrete has been kicked around in jest, but you, you have a much better idea... Ah, your own room, the collection room, your sanctum sanctorum a place for you and the collection. Not you and “your” collection but you and “the” collection as it has now taken on a life of its own, ever growing, ever consuming resources and that most vital of all necessities, space. Life, my friend is indeed a cycle, an ever revolving wheel of searching, acquiring followed by more searching for material to feed the collection. Just as it seems as if the very walls of the collection room are about to burst the second child announces plans of “leaving the nest”. All praise the collecting Gods, you now have a second room ready to accept the overflow that has accumulated; and so the cycle starts anew. Oh happy days, the elation of space to fill, of territory conquered; no more stacking specimens in corners placing them in boxes for future display. You think you are once again the master of space; oh you poor, poor deluded man. It never fails that history repeats itself and room two, the room you now call the “Sword Room” has started to constrict you. “The Collection Room” is now the “Main Collection Room” as you feel the need for definition and while there is more in the new “Sword Room” than swords and because you have submitted to the reality that these collections have become living entities you know the rooms deserve names of their own. “Surely this cannot go on”, is not a thought that crosses your mind, not openly that is; still there is that nagging feeling that space is once again at a premium. Strange how as each child has announced her decision to move out, to school, to get married or to find their own place they have become your favourite child. As life would have it, the third daughter is moving and at this point no one doubted the destiny of the newly emptied space. A new problem, however, presents itself in the form of a need for a permanent photographic area and a “shipping department’ for two businesses that have taken off and are thriving. So while the third room is there it is not open to the collections in the same context as in the past and while the photo area supports the hobby it is not intended for its residency. What to do? After just over fifty years of collecting, the last twenty with your present wife, you have the whole downstairs (basement level) to yourself; with the exception of a guest room which has been declared “off limits” to the collection and any part thereof by the true ruler of your house. Three rooms dedicated more of less to your collections, a three piece washroom and the family room which the whole family calls “the museum lounge”; which it pretty much is. All of this and yet there is that need, the need to feed the obsession; the need for space.. The only answer seems to be a reduction of all that is excess and not required to keep the collections alive and thriving. A call to two dealer friends and an antiques “picker” is made and suddenly the Collections are leaner and perhaps improved somewhat. Gone are three car loads of mineral and fossil specimens, two dozen surplus Bobby’s helmets, and a collection of cameras, firefighting equipment and military radios. So many collectables gone but in their place is a tidy quantity of cash. This scenario may sound quite desirable however it is much like a drug addict getting clean and as a reward he is handed the keys to a pharmacy. Still there is the matter of all of those items you worked so hard to accumulate being gone, gone forever, as you realize that you won’t live long enough to ever collect them or like objects back again. You look around the empty room, a vacant place such as you have always been striving for and now have gained. In shock at what you have done, you take a deep breath and before you utter a sound you realize the horror that... ...in space no one can hear you scream. Happy obsessing collecting. Regards Brian
  9. Hi Graham, An excellent collection, thanks for sharing it with the membership. Regards Brian
  10. British Foot Artillery Private’s Sword c. 1820 The Foot Artillery Private’s Sword c.1820, is sometimes referred to as the “Spanish Sword or Hanger” named for its use during the Peninsular War of 1807-1814. This British sword measures around 29 inches over all, with a 24½ inch blade without a fuller and has a D shaped hand guard. One of the issues I have with this particular sword is the time period designation of circa 1820 when it has been documented to have been in use throughout the Peninsular War of 1807 to 1814. Further, if that is the case then it is not a stretch of the imagination to see this sword in use at the time of the Battle of Waterloo (1815). A better circa date, in my opinion, would be c.1812 especially considering the war of 1812 was raging in Canada between Britain and the United States, therefore a significant date upon which to base a circa date. I believe this circa date was first set by Brian Robson, Swords of the British Army, as he was unable to locate any “Pattern” documents and was going by the mention of this sword in an official report titled, Select Committee on Artillery Equipment in 1855. This report states that the Spanish pattern hanger was worn in 1820 and continued to be worn by all gunners and drivers attached to field guns until 1826. All of this considered it would appear that this sword was in use from 1807 to 1826. It is interest that at this time (Peninsular War) that the horse artillery was issued with the large curved sabre of the Light Cavalry. This would seem a very un-gamely weapon at 33 inches to have been worn around the artillery pieces. Paintings of the battles of that era clearly show the Pattern 1796 Light Cavalry Troopers Sabre in use around the guns. Other paintings, also of that period, show the Foot Artillery sword being worn by gunners (see image below). A lot has been said by so-called experts about the Foot Artillery sword being a poor weapon and of little use for defence by the gun crews if they were over-run by the enemy. One of the reasons that I do not like to write about weapons I don’t have in the collection is that accepting the opinion of others who, in most cases, never handled the swords, let alone in battle, may be perpetuating a falsehood. This is one case where I must agree with those experts. When compared with the Pattern 1796 Cavalry Troopers Sabre, in use by the Horse Artillery of the same time period, the Foot Artillery Sword is far too blade-heavy. Both swords are of about the same weight but the weight distribution for the Foot Artillery sword makes it feel much heavier than that of the 1796 Cavalry Sabre. What does this mean when it comes to the gun crews defending themselves? The weight distribution in the 1796 Cavalry Sabre allows the user to parry an enemy’s sword then recover and deal his own cut or thrust. The Foot Artillery sword being blade-heavy would defend, or parry, as well as the 1796, however recovery of the weapon in order to deliver a counter blow would be very difficult, if not impossible. This scenario is involving being overrun by cavalry as the enemy is moving quickly through the line of guns. In the case of enemy infantry the parry of a bayonet would be followed up with a blow from the musket’s stock or butt plate. Being unable to counter strike with the sword is a definite detriment for the gunner. It seems strange that any sword should be considered as ineffective, however, it should be remembered that ever since the advent of dependable firearms the sword has not been the principle weapon of war. This is a good topic by itself and one that we may look at in detail in a future article. The artilleryman’s principle weapon, in this case, is his cannon and the sword, if he has one, for self defence as a last resort. Regards Brian Below is a picture the Foot Artillery Private’s Sword and one of the 1796 Cavalry Trooper’s Sabre. The artillery men from the painting Royal Artillery Dislodging French Cavalry by Denis Dighton (1792 – 1827) shows the gunner in the centre of the photo wearing the Foot Artillery Private’s Sword in the middle of his back, well out of the way of operating the artillery piece. The French Cavalry are in the background just below the hills.
  11. Well done on finding out the information you needed on your own. Regards Brian
  12. That was a good one, Michael. Regards Brian
  13. ...and another thing. Where is my memory today? If you read the first part of this tutorial you will recall that I suggested that before you drill the hole it might be a good idea to insert a thin piece of wood where the menu would normally be before you drill to prevent splitting or cracking of the Plexiglas. I did this to prove it would work and it did. This may be hard for those without a shop full of thin scrap but you can sand the piece (after cutting it as thin as possible) on a belt sander. I had to do this as my planner will not plane that thin. I think I have recalled everything now. Regards Brian
  14. Today I decided to finish this project with the modifying the second menu holder to support the scabbard. The only difference in procedure from the first part of this tutorial is in the size of the hole you will need to drill and therefore the resultant slot. I drilled a ¾ inch hole as that accommodates all of the swords I might want to photograph. With the exception of my oldest (c.1650) Japanese sword scabbards, they could use a hole of 1 inch in diameter. For this post we are dealing with British and probably most European weapons. I have included a photo of the sword in its scabbard to show how this looks if you decide to just use the stand to display a sword in its scabbard. The sword alone is sitting on a 4 inch deep box under the red fabric to elevate it above the scabbard and that seems to be about right for any posting I (or you) might want to make. The sword displayed is one of my prized specimens and is a Pattern 1822 Canadian Artillery Officer’s sword. I didn’t show the engraving on the blade which is very nice because we are only talking about the photographing or displaying of the whole sword; any sword would have done, I just wanted to “play” with this one today. I hope you, or your woodworking friend, will try this project as I think it really works well. Regards Brian Oops, I hate it when I resize a photo twice! I'll try again with the sword above the scabbard, to save your eyes. Regards Brian
  15. Thank you for your kind comments Patrick and welcome back to the forum. Regards Brian
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