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Brian Wolfe

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Everything posted by Brian Wolfe

  1. Here is a list of books I would recommend. Listed from the personally most referred to starting at the top, but all are very good books. I could list more but these are the best in their field. All are currently available. Swords of the British Army, Brian Robson British Military Swords, Harvey Whithers also look for books by the author on specific swords such as the 1796 Light and Heavy Cavalry The British Cavalry Sword 1788 - 1912, Richard Dellar Mr. Dellar tells me there is a companion book coming out later this year. The British Pattern 1796 Cavalry Sword and Other Derivatives, Janusz Jaroslawski The British Cavalry Sword from 1600, Charles Martyn Regards Brian
  2. Never go to a pawn shop unless you want to give it away. Better a dealer than a pawn shop...I cannot believe I said that! If you must sell these two items (keep them together for the sake of Pete!) see if you can find a reputable auction house. Another thing about the way the world works as far as pawning items. Once pawned because you absolutely need the cash it is not likely you will come up with the money to purchase it back in the allotted time before the item becomes property of the pawn shop; that's just not being rational. Look to other ways to raise the cash you need and keep the dagger. Cars come and cars go, that dagger, once gone will be gone forever. Regards, and good luck. Brian
  3. Brian Wolfe

    Hobnail trench club and bayo

    People get the strangest ideas about how to "improve" an antique arm and probably the only thing worse than spraying the scabbard with silver or aluminium paint would have been to have used gold paint. Either way this can be removed and the original look restored with a little work. I think the club has upholstery nails which is not to say this is not original. At the time soldiers used what was at hand to make such items. I would not hesitate to purchase such an item that looks like this, if I were looking to add one to the collection, as it has the "look" of authenticity. I could more than likely turn out such an item in my shop but to get the look of the ages would be just about impossible. And why one anyone want to fake such an item in the first place. My opinion is that this is an original. Also remember that any specimen one might find on "Images" on the internet may not match this one as they were, at times, ad hoc, that is to say made individually or in small runs as needed. Nice find. Regards Brian
  4. Ever since there has been a need to apprehend a suspected criminal and transport or hold them until support (“backup” if you are a fan of the television police officer stereo-types) to arrive there has been a need for devices to render the suspect incapable of flight. I will say that not all suspects are rendered incapable of flight and in at least one case I know of handcuffs made it “inconvenient” to take fright, but escape in this case was prevented. Did you know that having your hands secured behind your back when taking flight and the officer tossing his baton so that it fowls your feet can result in severe facial abrasions and a broken nose? Let me close this part of the post by saying that sometimes a civilian with a cam-recorder can be a blessing. Over the past 200+ years one of the leading manufacturers of handcuffs and other police equipment has been the Hiatt Company, now part of Safariland. For more information on the Hiatt Handcuff Company check out the link below. http://www.handcuffs.org/hiatt/index.html The website for “Handcuff Warehouse” has this to say about Hiatt and Safariland. The Hiatt Handcuff brand has been discontinued. Hiatt Handcuffs in England was acquired by American company Armor Holdings in 2006. Armor Holdings was then acquired by British company BAE Systems. The Hiatt factory in Birmingham, England was closed in late June, 2008. BAE has moved the Hiatt factory to New Hampshire and will be making the Hiatt handcuff line under the Safariland brand. They will also consolidate all other restrains made by BAE companies under the Safariland brand. This includes Monadnock disposable restraints and NIK Flex-Cufs. Availability of Hiatt products is limited to stocks on hand. The new Safariland handcuffs are now available. (Sic) Opinion: In a world where everything has been subjected to the “new” look and political correctness and any thought to the traditional is purely lip service we have a company name such as “Safariland” manufacturing and selling police equipment. Safariland? Really? It sounds more akin to a company that manufactures clothing for the urban Great White Hunter look, selling items that allow the weekend outdoorsman to pretend to be an adventurer, not a company that seriously manufactures police equipment. You may be thinking that, “Brian’s blood pressure must be up again and he’s on a rant”. Perhaps but check out their website. http://www.safariland.com/dutygear/restraints/chain.aspx You can actually purchase coloured handcuffs! So there you go you can now handcuff your suspect with pink handcuffs. Perhaps this is really for the “kinky crowd” but if that is the case then do you really want that associated with serious policing. This is just one man’s opinion and perhaps it is better that I work in the Conservation field now. It just seems that the whole industry has slipped from good solid tradition to the fly-by-night commercialism. Yet when you are called to duty you are expected to deliver the good old fashioned service the public expects and demands. The purpose of this post it not really to rant and rave about whether policing traditions have slipped or not as that it too subjective and the older I get the more prone I have become to be set in my ways. The purpose of this post is to discuss the different handcuffs and restrains used in the past by British and Colonial Police Forces. I will start off, with the next entry, with an example by W. Dowler rather than something from Hiatt, which will come later. Please feel free to post examples from your own collections along with stories and opinions from your own days of service. Regards Brian
  5. Brian Wolfe

    Let's Talk British Swords

    Hi Simon, Thanks for your comment. Sorry for the delay in replying, my computer passed away after a long illness and it took a week to get a new one. If I am to be honest, it took four days to actually get a new computer and three more days to figure out all of the updated software. It would indeed make an rather less expensive collection to put together a nice grouping of short swords from different countries. The LTC sword would be one of the easier specimens to get in mint conditions for the reasons given in the article. The British had several saw backed pioneer swords as well as drummer and bandsmen swords; though there seems to be little evidence of their use as true weapons. At the moment Indian swords are a very good purchase for the money, at least here in Canada. Like many collectables I am sure the prices will go up as soon as people realise that they are priced well below other swords of similar quality. A post on the "best bang for the dollar, or pound" as it relates to the sword market might be interesting. Regards Brian
  6. Brian Wolfe

    Let's Talk British Swords

    British Swords Spoken Here. For some time now it has been my intention to write several posts regarding the British sword, keeping them as brief as possible, I think shorter posts are best. Please feel free to leave comments as well as your opinions; this is intended to be a learning exercise, for me as much as I intend it to be for you. It should be stated straight away that I am not an expert on swords, their identification, history or their use; just an obsessive enthusiast. My background is in martial arts which includes the proper use of the Japanese Katana in the style of the 1650’s which involves, for lack of a better term, the “quick draw”. This involves drawing your weapon and making an upward strike, left to right, or horizontal cut again left to right. After which you are going to block your opponent’s sword strike provided either you or your antagonist are still “alive”. Of course no one is actually “fighting” or sparing in this form of practise. This form is called Iaito. The other form I studied is called Toyama Ryu and is sparing with dull steel blades, actually we used wooden swords called a Bokken. You can check out a good video on YouTube under Toyama Ryu. It is a lot harder than it looks when you are on the Dojo floor in front of your Sensi and the class. Yes the white belts always seem to back up a lot; really makes you work hard to “kill” the little buggers. The other sword form I studied was European fencing with an Epee. The word epee basically means “sword” and is the heaviest of the three swords used in the sport; the three swords are, foil, epee and sabre. The foil and the epee are thrusting weapons only and only a hit with the tip counts. The sabre scores with either the point or the edge of the weapon just like the real sabres of old. A word of warning; I started fencing far too late in life (mid 30s) and today my right knee (forward knee if you are right handed) gives me a lot of trouble. My point for giving my credentials is that I do know something about swords and their use, not just some of the history that I have read in books. From Japanese sword use I learned the cut or slash and from Western style fencing I learned how to “give point” or the thrust. I chose the epee as it was the closest thing to using a British small sword of the mid to late 1700’s. Both systems taught me how to block or parry an opponent’s sword. My intended range of my posts will be from around 1796 to 1912, which takes in the Battle of Waterloo up to the last Pattern developed, the 1912 Officer’s Cavalry Sabre. Anything older such as medieval broad swords is just too expensive to own and I like to own what I study. If you like the older sword reproductions then two thumbs up from me but they are just not within my interest range. I may also talk about other swords from different parts of the world in giving examples of parallel sword development, evolution if you will, in different countries at approximately the same time period. In these cases I may have to use pictures from books as well as photos from books of swords I have yet to acquire. I’ll always give credit to the book and the author. So If I have not frightened you off or bored you to tears let’s talk British swords. Regards Brian Part of my collection is pictured below.
  7. Brian Wolfe

    Yes, I am an Expert.

    Good one. Regards Brian
  8. Brian Wolfe

    Yes, I am an Expert.

    Yes, yes I am an Expert! Or, Experts and other random things I rant about. For years I have ranted and railed against the proliferation of so-called “experts”, especially on the internet; these people who seem to hold onto the idea that if they write something then that which they have written suddenly holds validation as the truth. I am reminded of the old movies where the Pharaoh announces to the scribes and others in attendance, “As it is written so shall it be”. Well, it may indeed “be” such as a law but that is not necessarily true about every “so shall it be”. Writing that all pyramids from this day forward shall be built with the point down will not make it so. Besides if that were possible think of the impact it would have today on Ponzi schemes. A few weeks ago we had house guests for a week in the form of my wife’s brother and his wife. My brother-in-law is not the stereotypical brother-in-law featured in comedic performances but rather a highly educated man and to call him an extremely successful business man would be a great understatement. He related that he was once told that the definition of an expert was someone who has read one chapter ahead of you in the instruction manual. He is an engineer so “instruction manual” suits him; my point of reference would have been “history book”. But, you say potato and I say, “ Solanum tuberosum”. Put the cell phone down, no need to verify that botanical name, I already looked it up. Yes, this time I cheated. This whole “what is an expert” thing got me to thinking. My brother-in-law is correct, an expert is not necessarily someone who knows everything about a subject, but simply is required to know more than you. Did we really think that our math teacher in High School could calculate the mass of Epsilon bootis (it’s a binary star system)? Personally, the teacher who comes to mind had a bad habit of counting the number of weeks with his thumb on the fingers of the same hand to determine when the school year would end and “this insanity would stop”. It was just a habit, one I have been guilty of from time to time, and I am sure it was an un-necessary exercise...or was it? By the way, go ahead and fact check Epsilon bootis on Google I was just “winging” that one; though I think it is correct. Besides it was an astrological joke as the teacher I am thinking of would have had to use the fingers on both hands (binary system, get it; yah, you got it). Speaking, or more accurately writing, about fact checking though the use of Google on the cell phone, there was a time when students would attend a play bringing with them a copy of the piece and check to see if the actors knew their lines perfectly. A number of years ago my wife and I were attending a Shakespearian play in Stratford, Ontario. The play was the Tempest and stared William Hutt as Prospero in what was to be his final appearance on stage. The front row was filled with High School students all armed with their copies of the Tempest ready to “fact check” the actors’ ability to deliver their lines to the text book’s exacting standards. Ah, the school system, what better way to enrich these pudding headed accidents of failed birth control than to have them follow the performance word by word in a text book. I suppose it was appropriate as in their future employment they would then be equipped to pose the question, “To flip the burger or not to flip the burger; that is the question”. I will pose this question regarding the education system. When a student excels we credit their teachers, however, when a student performs poorly in school where should we lay the blame? Of course, with a malfunctioning condom! Back to the play, as the play is the thing. Mr. Hutt was the first actor to insist that he perform using the English language commonly spoken by Canadians. It was most amusing to see the students flipping pages back and forth looking for the lines spoken by Mr. Hutt. Don’t worry little ones that beeping in the back of your head, indicating that the fries are done, is simply your future calling you. Before you comment on my gibes at the burger joints I was there both on the grill and the front row at Stratford trying to follow along with the play Midsummer Night’s Dream. Man, what was Bill Shakespeare on when he wrote that play; he must have been smoking some pretty righteous weed. To close this series of rants I will reaffirm that I am indeed an expert, as long as you don’t read ahead of me in the manual. Expertise is such a fleeting and very subjective state. Regards Brian By the way, did you catch my intentional error? I used “astrological” in place of “astronomical”. One is the study of the planets and stars; the other is right up there with the study of sugar plum fairies and unicorns pooping marshmallows. In keeping with today’s political correctness and a check of the forum’s rules I realized that astronomy may in fact be held by some to the degree of a religion. With that in mind I apologize if anyone was offended by my comments. Also I am led to believe that if you consider yourself a “sugar plum fairy” that it is an acceptable life style choice and again I apologize for any offence I may have unintentionally given. It’s an age thing and I must admit to having not kept up with today’s trends. I would ask that anyone, sugar plum fairy or otherwise, please carry an empty marshmallow bag and clean up after your unicorn, their droppings tend to gum up my lawnmower. As to unicorns, I have nothing against them in the wild or domesticated, just clean up after your tame ones. See photos below for clarification.
  9. Brian Wolfe

    Let's Talk British Swords

    The Land Transport Corps Sword Land Transport Corps Sword Perhaps one of the most interesting swords of the British military was the Land Transport Corps sword, not because of the campaigns in which it was used but for the fact that it was never officially issued to any troops. Historical background: One of the problems throughout the history of warfare has been that of supplying the troops with food, material, weapons, shelter and clothing to name a few of these necessities. When the campaign is at or near home the supply is much easier, however, during the Victorian period starting in 1837 the Wars of Empire were far afield. During this time the task of provisioning the troops fell under the Commissariat Department, a civilian body with no formal establishment of supervision. Earlier attempts at supply were undertaken by the Royal Wagoners, and during the Napoleonic Wars the Royal Wagon Train which were comprised of civilian personnel. These attempts were largely inadequate and any attempt to train a specialized corps was undone by the government as these corps were disbanded during times of peace. The use of civilian drivers was also quite common in India, used by both the East India Company and the Queen’s Indian Army. Again, during times of peace these civilian employees were disbanded, thereby saving on costs, which was an important objective. However, when once again the need for the civilian drivers was required there was never any guarantee that either drivers or wagons would necessarily be found in sufficient quantity. This lack of sufficient transport was particularly felt during the Crimean War of 1854 – 56. When the British expeditionary force landed at Calamita Bay in 1854 there were no pack animals or wagons available due to the lack of proper forage for the animals. The only horses landed belonged to the artillery, cavalry and officers. The first transport that was available to the British was in the form of captured Russian wagons. The capture of Balaclava finally offered a proper landing site; however there were still no means of moving the much needed supplies the eight miles to the front line at Sebastopol. This left tons of supplies to rot “on the docks” at Balaclava. Conditions worsened with the winter of 1854 and what supplies that reached the troops was on the backs of Regimental Officer’s horses and men on foot. With this the Commissariat Department collapsed in late 1854 followed by a Royal Warrant in January 1855 creating the Land Transport Corps (LTC). Unfortunately the attempt to reorganize the former Commissariat Department with the new LTC, which consisted of 8,000 men plus several thousand civilians, was a limited success. The same lack of discipline coupled with lack of experience with horses and an unfamiliarity with outdoor life resulted in one of the highest mortality rates from disease and exposure recorded for any other corps during the war. The LTC never overcame these shortcomings during the war and in 1856 they were reorganized to form the Military Train. The Land Transport Corps Sword: It would appear that someone held great expectations of the Land Transport Corps as a sword was commissioned for their use. This is particularly interesting as there is no evidence that any sergeants or other ranks of the former Royal Wagoniers, The Royal Wagon Corps or the Royal Wagon Train ever carried swords; probably due to their non-combatant role and were essentially civilians in uniform. Possibly it was thought that since the 8,000 making up the LTC were members of the military they should be appropriately armed, however this is pure speculation. The Land Transport Corps sword seems to have been patterned after the French infantry sword Model 1831, called the “cabbage chopper” by the French troops. Blade length and width: 22½ inches by 1 ½ inches (specimen shown is 1 3/8 inches wide) Blade type: Single edged (Robson records this as double edged, however the specimen shown in his book as in this specimen shown below, is plainly single edged) Guard: Brass Scabbard: Black leather, brass locket with frog stud and chape. Sword weight: 2 lb. 1 oz. Made by Kirschbaum, Solingen. Bibliography: Knight, Ian, “Go to your God like a Soldier” Robson, Brian, “Swords of the British Army, Revised Edition”, pg.240 Article submitted by Brian Wolfe Specimen shown below from author’s collection.
  10. Brian Wolfe

    All of My Heroes Are Dead

    All of My Heroes Are Dead All of my heroes are dead and I have, for the most part, killed them. I’ve never been one to hero worship sports figures, those over paid adolescent jocks who actually think their political, environmental and economic opinions matter. I find it strange that someone who hits a small ball with a baseball stick sending it over a fence then running around a diamond shape track stepping on pillows laying in the dirt is paid more than someone who will possibly be saving your life after a heart attack, a police officer or firefighter who protects you, your loved ones and your stuff or takes up arms to defend your way of life. I’ve seen the advertisements for the Fifa world cup which involves grown men again running around a field this time kicking a small white basketball and trying to get it into an extra large hockey net without using their hands. The ball catcher/stopper fellow never seems to stop the ball, as far as I see in the commercials, and makes a futile dive in the relative direction of the ball, missing it by yards (or meters). Then the fellow who kicked the ball last is mobbed by his team mates in jubilation. What’s with that! The net is the size of a school bus, how could you possibly miss? At least in the game of ice hockey the net minder is almost as wide as the target net. Often the net minder will fall on top of the hard rubber disk thing, which substitutes for a ball, to stop a score from being recorded against him. Then the other team members who are close by will poke the goal tender with their curved bladed hockey spears until the referee, dressed in a zebra-like black and white striped shirt blows his whistle. This is a signal that it is time for fisticuffs between the two teams. Sometimes the extra players the teams have brought along are allowed to leap over the fence, behind which they were sitting, onto the ice and join in the melee. After this some of the team members from both sides are given a “time out” and must sit on a wooden bench with the fellows they brought along to watch the game while their little friends get to continue playing. It’s all very confusing. These are great games for children but for adults, who often throw tantrums much like spoiled brats, it seems ludicrous to me. I have stated that all of my heroes are dead, true enough, but I didn’t actually kill them (figuratively) myself; the culprit was the truth. The other factor, for the most part, is that my interest lies with the Victorian era or more precisely starting with the Napoleonic Wars (pre Victorian) until the end of the Boer War (post Victorian). Therefore, of course my heroes are all truly dead in that sense. It is not always the truth that “kills” heroes, or more accurately hero worship of historical figures. A WWI Canadian hero, for me growing up, had always been Billy Bishop, the WWI leading flying ace. A number of years ago there was a book written offering the mostly unfounded theory that he could not have actually shot down the number of enemy planes that he had claimed. It was pointed out by some that it was ironic that a German had authored the book discrediting an allied pilot. I have always thought it was ironic that a country that prides itself on its diversity would point out the nationality of the author. All of this prompted the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa to erect a notice with the Billy Bishop display pointing out that resent critics had doubted these accomplishments. Well done War Museum! As Canadians we seldom crap on our heroes but let someone else do it and we’ll be happy to take a stand were we don’t have to actually take a stand. We are positively and absolutely in support of taking a stand against taking a stand, unless that makes us look like we are taking a stand; then no comment. Or, “We’re totally against taking a stand against taking a stand, unless you are not upset, then we will strongly take a stand against not taking a stand”. Please fill out the questionnaire below and we will attempt to come to a consensus, as our opinions may change without prior notification. Thank you for your understanding, unless you don’t understand then we apologize for taking up your time. Have a good day, please call again. Then again if there are enough people who don’t like what the Canadian War Museum has to say with their displays, such as the bombing of civilian targets during WWII because it up sets the War Vets then they change it. To Hell with the truth if it means taking a stand and we’ll be quite clear in not taking a stand, because we are not for or against it. Facts are the facts and war is war, I would think the museum would have figured that out by now even if the public, desperate for heroes, wants to reject the truth. Your dad (and mine) didn’t go out to kill civilians! Here’s a shocking statement, neither did the German Airmen, in the beginning before Hitler decided to “punish” the British for bombing Berlin (arguments welcomed). There was no such thing as pin point bombing or taking out a target with surgical precision. You simply bombed the general area and trusted in a higher power to guide the explosives to the intended target. Heroes from the past seldom stand up to the scrutiny of time, the truth that was so carefully hidden suddenly shows these men for what they were; in most cases, human. The Duke of Wellington, Wolsey and Kitchener, all heroes of their day, or as a book I was just reading put it “Heroes in a time of heroes”, have had their darker sides. If we are to follow the Latin advice De mortuis nil nisi bonum (Of the dead, [say] nothing but good), we sacrifice the truth. If we are going to seek the truth then we must be prepared to live with what we find, no matter how distasteful. My heroes are still my heroes but now I see them as ordinary men doing extraordinary things that I would find personally impossible to accomplish. So let us lift a glass to the average man, among his kind have walked giants. Regards Brian
  11. Brian Wolfe

    All of My Heroes Are Dead

    Hello Boris, Good to here from you and thanks you for your accurate comment. In researching for articles I write elsewhere I have found that many times our heroes are best left as they are, without too close an examination. It's not that they are especially bad just human. Thanks again. Regards Brian
  12. Brian Wolfe

    Yes, I am an Expert.

    Hi IrishGunner, Thanks for you comment. Now we (Canada) is on the verge of legalizing Mary Jane who knows what will happen to my blogs, maybe I’ll start to see unicorns. I wonder if they are any good on the barbecue.? Regards Brian
  13. Brian Wolfe

    Yes, I am an Expert.

    Hi 2dresq Thanks for your comments. As much as I enjoy the Star Wars movies I never once though about the name connection between Mr. Hutt and Jabba, that was a good one indeed. I think if anyone every says I knew him in school it won't be when they pin a plastic tag to a uniform, perhaps while they are tying the toe tag in the morgue though. Regards Brian
  14. Brian Wolfe

    All of My Heroes Are Dead

    Hi SemperParatus, Thanks for that great comment. Regards Brian
  15. Brian Wolfe

    Let's Talk British Swords

    Bent and broken Sword Blades Bent Blades During the time of the Indian Mutiny (1857) there was a great many reports of British swords failing in battle. These, I believe, were the Pattern 1853 and in some cases the Pattern 1821 Cavalry Sabre which was in use at the time. These failures were in the nature of broken and bent blades in addition to the more common complaint of failing to cut as covered in an earlier post. As a thrusting sword the Pattern 1853 tends to flex a bit too much to be an effective thrust centric weapon. Upon contact with an enemy wearing a thick coat and perhaps several layers of clothing the blade will bow rather than remaining straight as would a stiffer blade, such as the later Pattern 1908 Cavalry Sabre. This could result in breakage or severe bending of the blade; a bend that may very well remain until time allowed the trooper to straighten the weapon. Of course in the heat of battle a severely bent blade could well result in the death of the trooper. All Pattern 1853 blades would certainly bend and any blade that would bend had the potential to break if stressed beyond the tolerance point. As I have mentioned before, any sword blade can bend or break given the correct circumstances. Even the highly praised tulwar used by the mutineers was noted to have bent from time to time. If one takes into account the number of bent British blades compared to bent tulwars as the determining factor as to the quality of British blades then you have missed one important fact. Tulwars were only designed to cut and even though it could be argued that it is technically possible to thrust with the tulwar it is extremely difficult. This is evident upon simply looking at the sword and the direction the tip would be pointing if the tulwar was used to thrust. The British Pattern 1853 was designed as a cut and thrust weapon. The British trooper was encouraged to employ the thrust over the cut, and in the case of the blocking of the enemy’s cut followed by a thrust, the blade if it failed to penetrate the target could very well flex and therefore possibly develop a bend. This is magnified if the trooper was on the gallop and using his sabre in the same manner as a lance, upon giving point, failure to puncture through thick clothing cold very well bend or break the blade. A good deal of this, penetration or deflection, depended upon hitting the target at as close to 90° as possible. Catching the side of the target would increase the chances of blade failure. Another failure of the 1853 sabre was the handle, or grip, which was circular or round in cross section. This made “indexing” the blade, that is to say keeping the sharp edge of the blade in a forward position, more difficult. The proceeding sabre, the Pattern 1821, had a grip that was more oval in cross section. A practical example of this can be found in any kitchen, the butcher’s knife. Using the butcher’s knife or any kitchen knife would be most difficult if the handle was a cylinder, especially if the hand were slippery. There are several reports of troopers’ hands becoming so raw from the use of the sabre that their palms would bleed making the indexing very difficult, if not impossible. The cavalry trooper of the 19th century did not wear gauntlets as did their predecessors of the 17th and early 18th centuries. This problem was taken into account in later patterns of British cavalry sabres with the introduction, or I should say the re-introduction, of the oval cross section grip. Another problem mentioned in an earlier article was sharpness. A dull blade will cut into a body even if the sword strikes the target while the blade is not indexed properly. A dull blade will not cut into the target and tends to twist in the trooper’s hand. This causes the sword to strike on the flat increasing the potential for the blade to bend or even break. My earlier post suggested that the cause of dull blades was the use of a steel scabbard and the rocking motion of the horse would grind the sharp edge against the inside of the steel scabbard continually dulling the edge. Some good accounts are given in the book “Waterloo Voices 1815”, by Martyn Beardsley from letters written by the soldiers who were there, that tells of having their swords sharpened and then boarding ships bound for French ports and the eventual Battle of Waterloo; I will touch on this point a bit later on. An example taken from the book noted above attests to the sharpness of the British swords at Waterloo. “Anonymous account, Shaw in the Horse Guards, of pugilistic fame, was fighting seven or eight hours, dealing destruction all around him; at one time he was attacked by six of the French Imperial Guard, four of whom he killed, but at last fell by the remaining two. A comrade who was beside him a great part of the day, and who is the relater of this anecdote, noticed one particular cut, which drove through his opponent’s helmet, and with it cut nearly the whole of his face at the stroke”. This shows the sharpness of the British Pattern 1796 Cavalry Sabre used during the Battle of Waterloo, not present in many of the cavalry swords of the 1857 Indian Mutiny period. The reason for the difference is, I believe, in the mention earlier of getting the sabres sharpened in England and then directly boarding ships bound for the continent. This eliminated the long horse rides to the battle site as would have had to be endured during most of the actions in 1857. Had the sabres of the Mutiny been sharpened and then used shortly thereafter I believe the question of dull and even poor quality blades would have been nearly moot. The images below showing the Indian tulwar and the Pattern 1853 cavalry sabre indicates the direction of thrust (yard stick) through the grip to the target. As can be seen the tulwar’s point is well away from the line of thrust. It could be argued that the tulwar could be used in a curving motion to deliver the point into the target but this would be most effective if the target had just passed by and the Indian Mutineer was attempting to strike the British trooper in the back, as happened from time to time. The point of this is to say that the Tulwar is a cutting weapon and not a thrusting one as is the British Pattern 1853.
  16. The 1926 General Strike Due to the First World War there had been a great demand for coal in the United Kingdom to fuel the war materials industries. This resulted in a depletion of the rich coal deposits that had supplied the UK so well for many years. During the War exports of coal from the UK dropped resulting in a void that was quickly filled by other countries such as the United States, Poland and Germany. As coal prices continued to fall, in the post War years, Germany was allowed to re-enter the international coal market and started to export “free coal” as part of their reparations for the Great War. These German exports further hurt the export of coal from the UK and profits dwindled even further. In a move to buoy up profits the mine owners decided to lower the miners’ wages and extend the hours of work. The result was that on 4 May, 1926 the Trades Union Congress (TUC) called for a General Strike with the intention of forcing the British government to take action to prevent wage reductions and help the 800,000 locked out coal miners. This resulted in 1.7 million workers walking off the job and joining the strike. As the strike gained momentum people both in the government and the TUC itself feared that the General Strike could escalate into a wide spread revolution. King George V took exception to this suggestion of “revolutionaries” and said, “Try living on their wages before you judge them”. The TUC made a statement in an effort to ease the tension the public might be feeling in regard to such a wide-spread action and allegations that there were revolutionary elements in the trade unions, “We are not making war on the people. We are anxious that the ordinary members of the public shall not be penalized for the unpatriotic conduct of the mine owners and the government”. In a cautionary move the government put in place a militia of special constables called the Organization for the Maintenance of Supplies (OMS). Their purpose was to maintain the peace on the streets. There was intervention on a couple of occasions by the army; however, it was decided in a move to prevent escalation of violence, that the soldiers were to be unarmed. On 7 May, 1926 the TUC met with government representatives to work out a set of proposals to end the strike. On 12 May, 1926, nine days after the strike had been called, the TUC announced its decision to call off the strike. The end result was that many men were not called back to work as the government had stated that they did not have the authority to force the mine owners to employ all of their former employees. Those who were called back did so at lower wages and longer hours, which was the original intention of the mine owners. This was the only general strike in the history of Brittan and many trade unionists felt it had been a mistake, opting for political and legal resolutions in the future. Those OMS special constables were relieved of their duties later in the month of May and today we have certificates of appreciation issued to those Special Constables as lasting artifacts of The General Strike of 1926. Regards Brian
  17. Thanks for sharing this with us Peter, it is a first for me as well, Simon. Regards Brian
  18. Hi Dave, I think these were common to many police services through the WWI and WWII period. Most of the ones in my collection have the stripes running horizontal with a couple running vertically like the one you show above. I also have one with red and white stripes and it is for a Special Constable Inspector. I like to think the ones like yours and the especially the Inspector's one I have are to the Met, but that may only be wishful thinking as I have no proof to base a solid opinion; and we both know that would not hold up in court. I have some photos (somewhere) of these being worn on civilian suits as the issue of so many uniforms during the war years to all of the new SC's would have been expensive. Regards Brian
  19. That 100 lot may be Mervyn's cousin, Roy (if my memory serves me well), selling off the estate assets. I think it would be a good idea to contact that seller to see if he would sell you one copy. I would offer to sell you mine but I would have to have $1,000,000. to let it go. While not worth a million it is very worth while owning one. Regards Brian
  20. Brian Wolfe

    All of My Heroes Are Dead

    Hi Laurentide, Thank you for your comments. Actually I don’t really care abut what the sports players get paid. They are providing a service in the form of entertainment and encourage our youth to get out of the house and get involved with others. How do you put a price on that. I actually just put that comment in to get a response. Thanks again for your comments that are appreciated Regards Brian Hi Laurentius, Sorry l misspelled your name above I am using my IPad and it keeps changing some spellings Regards Brian
  21. Hello Everyone, Here are some Special Constabulary items from my collection. I'm not sure how long this will take to post so I'll just keep adding to this thread as I go. Please feel free to add your material as well and your comments are, as always, welcomed. The Special Constabulary was founded because so many police officers were signing up for military service in WWI that the authorities needed to fill the ranks. First up is a photo of a Special Constable in "uniform". Please note the armband as I will post a similar item later in this thread. I hope you like this thread and please do add to it. Regards Brian
  22. Brian Wolfe

    To The Point Part 2

    Staying Sharp. Not too long ago I was attending a Gun Show in our area and had just completed a negotiation for the purchase of a Pattern 1908 British Cavalry Sabre. The guard had “possibly” been repainted green in the same shade as the WWI models, though I see no indication that this is not the original paint job; some of these were green and some a khaki colour. The seller stated that it had been issued to the Fort Gary Horse (Canadian) which to his mind warranted a slightly higher price than one might normally expect. This example, I did agree, commanded a higher value but not for the reason he presented as the guard was stamped R.H.G. (Royal Horse Guard). As a shameless fan-boy of Victorian era military, anything marked to the Horse Guard is prized. “Hold on there sunshine”, you may be thinking, “haven’t you forgotten the dates of Victoria’s rein (1837-1901) or missed the fact that the sabre is a Pattern 1908?” The Pattern 1908 was in fact accepted into service by King Edward VII (1901 –1910), rather reluctantly according to some sources as he considered it a very ugly pattern compared to those patterns that came before. I considered this specimen a real treasure and therefore was prepared to pay a bit of a premium. For a change the lack of attention to detail was not mine and I came home with a treasure, in my opinion. Granted I could have pointed out that the stampings did not support his original claim with the intentions of negotiating a lower price, however, since he felt the sword commanded a premium price and I agreed, albeit for a different reason, therefore I feel no remorse at withholding the information. A case where Caveat emptor was somewhat reversed; Caveat venditor perhaps? The Household Cavalry and I believe Royal Horse Guards still use their Pattern 1892 Mk.II for ceremonial purposes, however during the WWI period they were issued the Pattern 1908 while on active service. By way of some explanation as to why, if I am so inclined to collect Victorian era black powder military firearms and swords, have I added the Pattern 1908 Cavalry troopers sabre and the Pattern 1912 Officer’s Cavalry sabre to the collection? My collection theme, and I do have one, (a method to my madness if you will), is that I like my collection to tell a story and yet not necessarily including every Pattern of sword or Mark and Number of every musket ever made. Therefore the Pattern 1908 and 1912 is the final chapter in the story of British Cavalry sabres. Also, I do collect in the “other direction” so the collection also has examples of weapons from George III, George IV, William IV as well as Victoria, a range from 1760 to 1901 or 1912 in the case of the last cavalry (Officer’s) pattern. I find it interesting that the Patterns still in use today by Officers, though for ceremonial purposes only, end with the Victorian Patterns. One exception that I am aware of is the use of the Pattern 1908 by Canada’s R.C.M.P. in their world famous Musical Ride. Now, finding one marked to the R.C.M.P. would be a banner day indeed. After I had secured the sword I slipped it into what is called a “rifle or gun sock” for transport around the balance of the show. My reasons for this, other than treating the sword with respect and protecting it from any damage while it is in my care, is the unwanted banter that often comes from the vendors. If you carry around a firearm or sword, for that matter, every other dealer is shouting out at you asking if “it” is for sale. I find it rather annoying though I understand their reasons. Sword collectors immediately recognize the shape in the rifle sock and some will ask if they can see what you have. Naturally one would never decline to show off a new prize and the resulting conversation that follows. Eventually I came to a table of a long time acquaintance of mine who is also a fellow sword collector. He is a collector of ancient Japanese weapons and armour, the real thing not the WWII NCO and Officer’s katanas or the cheap scrap metal reproductions out of China. I showed him my latest purchase and he said, upon handling it, that it was a really poor sword and felt awkward in the hand and he thought it would also be a poor sword for fencing. It should be explained that this is common between us, his running down of British military swords and me asking once in a while, when no one else can hear, if a certain blade on his table came out of China recently. I would agree with his tongue-in-cheek assessment that the 1908 Cavalry Sabre feels much different in the hand than a Japanese katana, and he was as usual joking, as I have a couple of Japanese swords in the collection dating from the early 1650s. I also agree that the 1908 would make a terrible fencing sword based on the fact that in my younger days I belonged to a fencing club, using the epee for the most part. Then he hit upon the obvious that the 1908 had no true (sharp) edge and was “too dull to even cut butter”, I have not experimented but I assure you the butter remark was a little over the top. My friend knows his swords so his comments only elicited a laugh from me as I knew he was kidding. The downside is that he now has one up on me! This has led me to thinking about the current trend on television to run programs comparing different weapons systems and warriors throughout history. Comparing a ninja to a fifteenth century fully armoured knight for example. Who would win? First off there is no such thing nor never has been a ninja outside the realm of fiction and fantasy, so let’s call our imaginary friend a samurai. They were both in more or less the same time periods but the warfare they engaged in was completely different calling for different tactics and equipment. Also the samurai portrayed in these silly “competitions” is almost always indicative of the warriors of the 1650’s period and probably should at least be the fully armoured samurai of the 1500’s. Total nonsense! No different than comparing the Japanese katana of the 1650’s, of which I have two examples in my collection, to the Pattern 1908 British cavalry troopers sabre. Katanas are cutting, or slashing, weapons and the 1908 is a “thrust centric” sword, not even a true sabre; it’s actually more of an estoc. True you can thrust with the katana but just looking at it tells you that the principal use is as a cutter. You’ve probably seen samurai movies where the hero has just polished off 1,714 of the opposition’s samurai then flips his sword under his arm and stabs another opponent who is coming up behind him. Nice move for the camera but not one that would be very useful on the battle field. To make my point, the distance from the body of the samurai to the point of strike (about 4 inches from the tip) on the blade is 42 inches. The point of fatal contact with the enemy approaching from behind is 10 inches taking into account a needed four inches of penetration for a kill. Why would the enemy not simply strike his opponent, who is facing away from him, using a cut at 42 inches away instead of coming within the 14 inch strike range of his adversary? If you stand 14 inches away from your opponent it is almost impossible to make a power cut or even “give point” (thrust, or stab). You may simply say, “There he goes again, making unsupported claims”. Surprisingly enough, while I may blend a couple of stories together to make one better tale every now and then, I never make unsupported claims. Today was a very nice day so I went out into the back yard with my wooden practice katana (officially called a “bokken”) and my tape measure and carried out some experiments. The neighbours are used seeing to my so-called experiments in archeology. Some neighbours tend to describe me as eccentric, for some reason. There are probably less polite terms used when speaking to each other about their neighbour, I am sure. If we now look at the 1908 cavalry sword and read the history behind it we find that it was designed as a thrusting weapon only and only while on horseback. It was to take the place of the lance for the most part. It is not a fencing epee or a slashing weapon, this I assure you as I have studied and participated in both European and Japanese styles of fencing. In conclusion there is no comparison, not because one is superior to the other but simply because you can’t compare the two; they are totally different “animals”, different time periods and using different tactics. I apologize that I have not included photographs this time. I am not set up for photographing larger items and had a lot of trouble when I tried to insert Photoshop reduced backgrounds (canvas). Regards Brian
  23. Brian Wolfe

    Let's Talk British Swords

    Quality: One of the flaws attributed to the British cavalry swords of the 1850’s was that the blades were of very poor quality. These, it was said, were made in Germany and sold to sword makers in Britain at a lower price, ending in a poor quality weapon. True this no doubt happened and in fact some sellers would place proof marks on blades that were never put through quality assurance testing. However, there were many very good quality blades produced in Germany for the British and even the Indian market. You can find Indian tulwars on the collector’s market today with British, German and Indian made blades of exceptional quality. I have an example of a Pattern 1853 Cavalry Trooper’s Sabre in my collection that is marked with a visored helmet motif to indicate the German maker, Kirschbaum, and also stamped with an “I” on the back edge of the blade by the British indicating it was for use by their troops serving in India. This seems to be an excellent quality blade. I do not believe that the British sword blades, even those from Germany, were of poor quality overall, some no doubt were, but not to the extent that was reported by the press of the day. So why would some officers even use a poor quality blade in the first place? We need to remember that at this time period positions in the army or cavalry were purchased. This meant that the new officer, while highly educated and socially refined knew little to nothing about what was expected of him on the battlefield. In addition to this the purchase of his entry rank most likely left him with little to spend on uniforms (he needed several) and other equipment such as his sword. Firearms were not issued to officers and they were required to purchase their own if indeed they wanted to carry one. When a young officer went to a “tailor” to be outfitted with his uniform he often had the opportunity to purchase his sword from the same supplier. If the tailor was out to maximize his profit margin then the swords he was offering might vary greatly in their quality. Even for the common cavalry trooper the quality might vary depending on which blade maker was supplying the sword makers in England who then supplied the military with the swords that were then issued to the troopers. The practise or purchasing your rank in the army (including cavalry) sounds rather ridiculous today and I will admit that I often wondered how this came to be. While I was researching this post I delved into this question and found what might be the answer. I’ll admit that the solution to my question comes from only one source so you decide whether you want to accept it or not. During the English Civil War c. 1650 Oliver Cromwell (leader of the opposition to the King) made changes in the military, one of those changes was to promote officers through the ranks based on merit. This seemed to be a very positive change and in today’s thinking makes a great deal of sense. However once the Civil War had settled down and a new King on the thrown it was noted that the army officers held rather revolutionary ideas and were at the same time viewed as being rather crude and brutish. This was when it was decided that in order to fill the upper ranks of the military with members of the gentry the government would offer to sell rank to the privileged. The so-called lower members of society would be excluded and the officer’s positions filled with men of quality, better educated and refined; in other words more apt to support a monarchy than make moves to copy the French and revolt. Much has been written about the problems associated with the purchase system but in all fairness many great military leaders came from the upper class and purchased their entry level rank; The Duke of Wellington being one of the best examples. In the forward to Janusz Jaroslawshi’s book, “The British Pattern 1796 Cavalry Sword and Other Derivatives”, Tadeusz M. Klupezynski writes, “There were special price lists of specified amounts that had to be paid in order to obtain a certain officer rank in the individual regiments. Such a dealings did not miss as well as Arthur Wellseley Wellington, who twice- by borrowed money- bought himself a promotion to higher rank to accelerate his career in military advancement. Perhaps, without these “purchases” if the indigent Irish nobleman had been promoted only in connection with the military service, the transformation of the British army would never have happened, there would not have been a Waterloo and the Napoleonic era would have had a completely different course, and perhaps over the Houses of Parliament in London would be a tricolor French flag today.” [sic]. Certainly a sobering thought and perhaps the most positive reinforcement of the success of the purchase program for its day. While it is good to point out the positive side of a topic that has been held as a negative condition of the early British army we shouldn’t dismiss this as purely politically driven criticism. The successes and achievements of the British army of the distant past owes much to the few brilliant leaders and much more to the perseverance and determination of the common soldier. Regards Brian
  24. Brian Wolfe

    Let's Talk British Swords

    Thanks Simon, my intention is to make this section a "go to" destination for people interested in British swords and their use. I am a bit concerned that there seems to me to be too little interest in British history here on the GMIC. I could be wrong but the only way to correct that. providing I am correct, is to start to post about British history rather than sitting here complaining; which is what old guys like me do best. Regards Brian
  25. Brian Wolfe

    Hoarder to Historian

    Welcome back to the guild of historian/collectors and organized hoarders. I decided to cut back in my spending as well but to paraphrase a familiar movie, "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in". Of course that "thought" is a common one and getting pulled back in again refers to either the next show or simply checking the GMIC. Regards Brian
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