Brian Wolfe

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About Brian Wolfe

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    Senior Moderator
  • Birthday 06/08/48

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    brian.wolfe@bell.net
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Profile Information

  • Gender
    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. I've seen this photo before,somewhere, and I seem to recall that it was a radio receiver used to triangular transmissions. That is to say locate suspicious communications. I hope I have remembered this correctly. Regards brian
  2. You need to set your computer to the Northern Hemisphere setting. Regards Brian
  3. Strange Creatures, These Collectors It seems that I, like many of you, have been a collector for most of my life. Starting as a child, to be clear, I “started” as an infant, and should have written that it seemed that I started “collecting” as a child. Back on point; I was one of those odd little buggers who, for the most part, kept the original boxes that had contained my new toys. Cap pistols were among my favourite toys and again that’s the same as most of us, at least most of us who were boys; though there is nothing wrong with girls having toy firearms. Note the added political correctness after-thought. It would be quite debatable to insist that I was a collector much before the age of sixteen, when I purposely ordered an Enfield WWII spike bayonet, the No. 4 Mk II* for a grand total of .99 cents, plus shipping form International Firearms in Montreal with the express intention of starting a collection. Could that really be over half a century ago? Now there’s cause for reflection. Anyone who has been with the GMIC for any number of years has read about the extent to which some (many?) collectors will go to secure that “once in a lifetime” piece. I have lost track at how many times I have told my wife that a pending purchase was a “once in a lifetime” find. I seem to have, she’s reflected on many occasions, more “lifetimes” than a cat. Yes, she is most droll. On March 26 there was a gun show at Orangeville Ontario, about 1½ hours drive from here, that my friends Brian, Mike and I were attending. At the show a dealer, with whom I have had a long standing relationship, offered me a British Police painted truncheon from the rein of William IV (1830-37). I was short of funds and asked if he would hold it until I could find a cash machine, of which there was none at the show site, meaning I would have to go into the city to locate one or at least a bank branch with such a machine. I am not a fan of the ATM as I can’t help feeling that it is somehow akin to gambling, one of these times the machine will win, I am sure. The dealer insisted that I take the truncheon and pay him the next time we meet. This is not the first time he has made that offer as it is not the first time I was short on funds with no ATM on site. We have a long standing joke between us in that I will not take him up on that offer as one never knows if one will be run over by a bus, so-to-speak, before the debt can be paid. This has become such a common joke between us that he ends emails to me with “Watch out for busses” in place of “Regards”. This has, I am sure, puzzled other show attendees when he says that to me when we part company at the shows. While at this same show I found a 1912 pattern British Officer’s Cavalry Officer’s sabre for sale at the table of another dealer. I did not make the purchase as, you will recall, I was short of cash. I told Brian and Mike about it and had to listen to Brian’s lecture on how I could have borrowed the cash from him for both items. I do not like borrowing money from friends even less than using one of those infernal ATMs. I had decided that if the sabre was available at the next gun show, this time in Jerseyville Ontario on April 9, which is about an hour’s drive from here, that I would negotiate a price for the sabre. To be clear, the truncheon would not be available at the next show and I would have to wait to secure it until the next Orangeville show on May 7. Time flies when you are having fun, they say; however when you are waiting for a treasure to be available for your collection, time takes the bus, a slow bus! Finally the show date arrived and we all set out much earlier than we would have normally to assure we were through the door in quick time and the sabre would be mine. Horror, oh the humanity of it all, the dealer and my sabre had decided not to attend this show. Had the Collecting Gods forsaken me? Was this some sort of punishment for evil deeds long past and if so what deeds? True there was that incident from when I was a kid involving a lit illegal Roman candle firework that fell over, a garden shed, an open door and a gas can. In my defence and as I pointed out to my father there were no witness to the alleged explosion; none that were over the age of majority that was. So really it was simple hear say that I was anywhere near this unfortunate set of coincidences, and therefore inadmissible as evidence. It surely couldn’t be that small bit of misadventure and besides I was the injured party in that I served a period of grounding for an offence that the prosecution (aka parents) failed to prove, due to lack of evidence, and then denied me an appeal process. Regardless of the reasons I was now doomed to wait until the next Orangeville show of May 7; a total of a month and a half. The longest month and a half of all time which includes time waiting for the next season of Game of Thrones. Alarm set for 04:30 in anticipation for Sunday morning and the Orangeville show, and then in the middle of the night I was hit by one of the worst cases of the flu I have ever experienced. By morning I was in a terrible condition running a high fever, among other symptoms that were also “running”. At 05:00 Brian and Mike arrived and I was not in any shape for the hour and a half drive to the show. I arranged for Brian to pay the dealer who had the truncheon put away for me and bring it back and also to negotiate a price for the sword with the other dealer. I knew the asking price, which at this point I was more than willing to pay and therefore knew how much cash to send and so like the Ringwraiths sent by the Dark Lord Sauron (Lord of the Rings) away Brian and Mike went on their quest. This was actually a better idea than had I been able to attend the show as I am one of the poorest price negotiators you will ever meet and Brian one of the best. If I were to negotiate the price I would probably end up paying more than the asking price and think I had made the deal of a lifetime. You would really like playing poker with me as if I am excited about an item, as would have been the case here, you can read it all over my face. It turns out that Brian indeed negotiated a better price for the sword and would have secured an even better settlement had another attendee at the show not said, part way through the negotiations, that if he (Brian) did not take the sword that this new “player” would. That was actually very rude, not only because there was an active negotiation taking place but it is not polite conduct to interrupt any conversation between two people. Not that I care about the price, as I have said I would have gladly paid the asking price, but there is an ethical and proper manner which society needs to maintain, otherwise we are no better than the beasts of the field. I suppose this makes my earlier point regarding the extent to which collectors will go to assure the procurement of an item. The bottom line, and the only point, is that the sword was now mine, mine I tells you (insert maniacal laughter here). I would estimate now that at or around (police speak) 11:00 hours I vaguely remember what sounded like Brian’s voice in the distance, through a fog of fever, talking to Linda in our kitchen. The next time I was conscious was around 1700 hours (5:00 PM). I shuffled out into the strong day light of the kitchen from my dark abyss of illness (me feeling quite sorry for myself) to see what Brian and Mike were able to secure for the collection. It was then that I saw the treasures they had brought, the sabre and the truncheon still waiting on the kitchen table where they left them. I totally reject the story Linda likes to tell as to how, like Smeagol aka Gollum (Lord of the Ring reference again), I clutched these treasures mumbling references to myself in the plural and calling the truncheon and sabre “my precious”. Further to this I did not, and I must emphasise, I did not, scurry back to bed with “our precious”, this is a conspiracy-style story that seems to have already made its way thought the whole family; one that will no doubt be repeated at every family gathering for years. I have found that one never wants this family to “get one up on you”, not that I don’t deserve it, however, turn about is not, I repeat not, fair play when it happens to me. While it may have seemed at the beginning of this blog I was going to criticise the extent that some collectors will go in order to secure yet another treasure; this is not the case. Had Brian and Mike not been able to attend the show I would have grabbed several sick bags and drove the hour and a half each way even if it had risked my very life. Considering that I have, in the past, driven two hours to a gun show in a blinding snow storm this would have been nothing that would have surprised my family. Am I crazy, as one of my friends has suggested. No I’m not crazy, just one of those strange creatures...a collector. Regards Brian
  4. In my opinion leave such medals as they are, it is an indication of the "journey" it has seen. I would think any coatings or plating would look like it has been doctored,so to speak. regards Brian
  5. Thanks GreyC. It took a while but I am glad I took the time to build them. Regards Brian
  6. I had no idea about this and was hoping someone would have the answer. I should not have been too worried as we do have an amazing knowledge pool on this forum. Thanks for clearing this question up Micky and thanks for asking it Jim, and this is indeed the section to ask such a question. Regards Brian
  7. Hi Chris, Thanks for your comments and also for putting a smile on my face and keep looking for that system. Regards Brian
  8. Good idea Chris and very well done. I have several medal groups with documentation and the medals are in one place and the documents in a fileing cabinet in another room. A note on the back of the group, of under the group in most cases, informs those who come after me, or a forgetful me, that there are document that go with the group. Obvious problem is that this can result in the paperwork getting separated from the medals, a problem you have managed to avoid. Well done. Regards Brian
  9. Well, I feel that I am just doing little except agreeing with all of the above, but here goes any way. I speak of British and therefore Canadian, Replacing ribbons is a matter of personal chioce, of course. However I would never replace one out of a group without replacing (and preserving) the balance of the group. A vet woud never, in my opinion, wear a group with one new and three or four original ribbons. I believe there are ribbons available made of the same material as the originals and I think they are worth the extra money. I have several groups in the collection with quite soiled and worn ribbons that will stay that way. I do not see this as disrespect but rather true respect for the original recipient. Now a story about a group of WWII medals that belonged to my father, and are now in my care. Originally they came in the medal box along with a piece of ribbon. My father decided he wanted them mounted for wear and had them swing mounted. After a number of decades he decided the fashion at the local Legion was to have them court mounted, which he did. So the medals never had the original ribbons on the medals themselves and were then mounted and remounted using new ribbons each time. I see no problem with this, especially when they were his medals. The good news is that Dad kept the original boxes which contain the original ribbons, packing paper, small envelope, a note of award and in the case of the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal a small silver maple leaf (showing overseas service) for the ribbon bar. Good topic and one I agree needs revisiting from time to time. Regards Brian
  10. Thanks Nicolas, I think everyone needs at least one place where they can retreat from the world and be in the surroundings that makes them comfortable. Now my shop and office are more along the lines of semi-organized chaos. Regards Brian
  11. Hi Paul, Thanks and yes I did build them all. Sometimes it is an advantage to have a cabinet shop all to yourself. Hi Chris, Ummm, but thanks...I think. Regards Brian
  12. This is not the blog I had in mind for this month as may be evidenced by the lateness of its submission. I usually have several ideas in the works with most needing more research and fact checking. No doubt this surprised you since I almost never state references or even sources for my blog content. My reasons are as uncomplicated as I like to think I am. I do not aspire to be held up as an expert or even an authority on history or the collecting of historical artifacts. I have never thought the amassing of large quantities of items qualifies me as anything much above an organized and selective hoarder. There are, believe it or not, 212 drawers in the collection room which contains our medals collection and I assure you this doesn’t qualify me as an expert. I use the term “our” when referring to the collection as my wife has added many specimens over the years, mostly from the Victorian era. Therefore, the collection is not “mine” alone and therefore the use of the term “our”. Sorry to disappoint those of you who may be trying to psychoanalyse me; I have no other personalities, not that “they” have told me about, at least. You’ll notice from the photo below that I am still working on the drawer labels. Oh, I see, Brian decided to ramble along for several paragraphs and attempt to pass it off as a legitimate blog. No, I tried that, in a manner of speaking, during my mid-term French examination in my first year of high school, I took all of the French phrases and words I could remember, arranged them into sentence-like strings and hopped for the best; it didn’t work. On my final French examination, the questions of which were totally in French, I simply wrote, “I don’t read French, therefore I am unable to complete this exam. Considering you, as the teacher, have never spoken a word of English during the year I must assume you will also be unable to read this note”, and signed the bottom. I dropped French the next year, but picked up a working knowledge of Canadian French, the only true French a real Canadian should speak (check out any restaurant in Ottawa) during my years with a French Canadian construction crew. I’ll bet Madame what’s her name would be surprised, perhaps a little shocked, at some of the language I learned on the job. Viva Quebec! Now back to the title of this blog. It is a reference to the closing scene from Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark and the warehouse where the Ark was finally sent for storage. Indiana Jones, (you remember), that’s the theme music that plays in your head as you enter a military collectables show; or does that just happen to me? Anyway, as I was working on the blog for April’s edition I needed some reference material and a really nice picture I purchase about a year ago, but where was it. I looked through every drawer and cabinet here in the office (aka the “Home Office”) with no luck. Where did I put the darn thing? I know it is not in the collection room as I don’t store such items there, only a few reference books and they are all in order and accounted for. It has been said that everyone has three lives; one that the public sees, one that the family sees and a third one, possibly the real you, that only you see. I too have a dark side, a horrible little secret that I am about to share for the first time. Not even in my past did I reveal this to the “shrink” during my evaluation; whom I might add found me quite normal, in fact he wrote in his evaluation that I am A.B.Normal, so there. We have two large storage areas in our basement where, years ago, I started to store those items that I had no real place to keep them, papers, research material, pictures books and some collectables. In the beginning I would mark “Bankers boxes” with “Brian’s Stuff” and store them away. After a time I would mark subsequent boxes as “Brian”, then simply “B” and more recently I left the new boxes without markings as I am the only one to use these areas. With doors closed it was a case of mind over matter, that is to say, I didn’t mind and it really didn’t matter. So the image I have so carefully crafted as an organized and regimented person has been a sham all along. So far I have been unable to find that picture I was looking for though I have just begun looking through the items in storage. So far, along with several photos of military themes I have found a Special Constabulary medal in the original addressed box and a WWI named trio, but no picture. Be assured the if I happen to run onto the Holy Grail or the lost Ark of the Covenant I will be sure to let you know. Regards Brian
  13. Well done Chris! What a great story and magnificent effort. Regards Brian
  14. Thanks for the comments and support fellows. Actually, Paul, I have 5 kids though I was talking about my three youngest daughters and their husbands. Believe me 5 was plenty, especially when the four girls were all in their teens at the same time; and they say war is Hell.
  15. As time passes I find things that were considered common place have changed while I was distracted by life in general. At one time I would question why I was here and what my purpose for being was. In other words, I was questioning my existence and place in the universe. This, of course, was a deep philosophical question. Today as I age I find the question remains the same but seems to arise every time I enter another room. Now no longer a deep philosophical question it has become a matter of, “I know that I was looking for something when I entered the office, but I’ll be dammed if I can remember what it was.” The other day I returned from picking up some groceries and said something regarding the cashier to the effect that “the girl at the store was checking me out and...” In the early part of my life this beginning of the statement might have raised an eyebrow by my wife as to why a girl was checking me out. Now days such accidental double meaning statements go unnoticed as she knows no “girl” in her right mind would bother to “check me out”. In a way today is a lot less stressful albeit much harder on my male ego. On Family Day (a holiday here in Ontario in February) I walked into the living room and simply inquired as to what the day’s weather was like. A conversation starter; nothing more. Four of the six daughters and sons-in-law took out their I-phones and announced the state of the present weather even though a glance out of the front window would have given them the same information; how things have changed. I am definitely not a big fan of change, finding comfort in the familiar, and the linear. When I was a youth I liked to visit the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) as often as possible. There I could lose myself in row upon row of displayed items from Archaeopteryx to Zacanthoides, Archeology to Zoology. Fossils and dinosaurs displayed row upon row all ever so neat and carefully labeled. The Ancient Roman section had tables in two rows on which was displayed hundreds if not thousands of coins mounted on slanted bases and covered with what would best be described as long glass tent-shaped panes of glass in frames which resembled table mounted green houses. Again row after row all neatly labeled. I used to like the section with animals all prepared to the highest level of the art of taxidermy and the Indigenous Peoples exhibit displayed with their tools and in a setting that looked like their camp sites. I’m sure these were artistically made mannequins though I told my brother that they were indeed real stuffed people. To this I added that I saw a sign stating that they were looking for an example of a “little brother” to stuff and I had entered his name as a candidate. I recall this led to several sleepless nights for him and my mother, and no end of satisfaction for me. My poor mother; I must have been an intolerable child. This was my world, at least when I could arrange to be there as it was several hours from the town where I was doomed to reside. It’s located in a cultural wasteland where academia was routed out and burned at the stake for the witchcraft it was. Of course this was simply the observations of a child to his surroundings. As an adult, looking back through the haze of time, I realize that no one actually routed out academia to burn at the stake; they would have much more likely thrown the concept into a burlap bag and drowned it in the river followed by crazed dancing around a huge bonfire. However I do digress; a privilege claimed by and reserved for the elderly. A number of years had passed from my last visit to the ROM caused by marriage and raising a family and other less worthwhile activities. When I once again paid a visit to my former sanctuary the place had undergone a transformation. I suppose that I should have not been surprised as I too have not remained the same person I had been decades before. In place of the neat rows placed in displays one room adjoining another in a manner not unlike some series of above ground catacombs was something I was not prepared to see. It now looked like a department store-front with displays akin to the talents of a window dresser. In one large case there was exhibited medieval armour alongside an example of textiles from the Ming Dynasty, on the floor of the display rested a large skull of a carnivore from the Cretaceous Period and to add insult to injury a pair of muskets rested against the skull. If Father Time had cleaned out his basement then this could very well be the dumpster into which he was depositing his junk. It was evident that what has happened is that they are now catering to a different target audience. Being situated on the campus of the University of Toronto they most likely were geared in the past to the academia of the University both staff and students. Now they are aiming at a wider market and with that new direction they need to entertain as much and possibly more than just educate. I don’t have a real problem with this except at times I think the museums have gone from the idea of the grey haired old professor haunting the galleries to Sponge Bob Square Pants leading the children in a song about passing wind. I suppose this had to come to pass considering the government cut backs in every facet of society where they used to fund these organizations. The bottom line is now foremost, through necessity; accountants and bean counters before curators. Are these organizations really turning into profit mongers I pondered and if so, what effect do they have on today’s youth. My last visit to the ROM, after my initial shock, didn’t seem as much like an alien environment as it had initially. Perhaps it was change itself that was bothering me, clouding my perception and rational. While in the paleontology section my wife and I witnessed something that nearly brought me to tears of elation. There a little girl with her parents was looking at a display of trilobites when she said, “Look, a Greenops boothi and there’s a Phacops rana. Did you know that in Latin rana means frog?” I wanted to ask if this kid might be up for adoption! Perhaps things hadn’t changed all that much after all. There were still little nerds in attendance and the old geezers haunting the galleries were still there, except now that old geezer it was me. So the need to pay attention to the bottom line has caused museums to be profit mongers through necessity but still educators through desire. While the asymmetrical displays of specimens and the seeming helter skelter of topics made more sense this time, when I got home I went straight to the study, made some more labels and realigned my medals into even straighter lines than before. Museums may still be places of education and surrounded by chaos but my world remains regimented and linear. Somehow there is comfort in that. Regards Brian