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Gentleman's Military Interest Club


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About CollectorInTheUSA

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    I collect many types, and especially am interested in antique arms, as well as general police memorabilia, for example truncheons and tipstaves.

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  1. Oh, I see, not sure why I thought he would have bought the whole thing, lock stock and two smoking barrels... There were hundreds of items (if not thousands). By the way, since you like painted wood staves so much, here is a picture of a young chap holding exactly such a stave. It's one of the famous "Dempsey's People", now in the National Portrait Gallery. My notes say: Although the inscription identifies this young man as a ‘policeman’, the work’s probable date of 1825 places it some years before Sir Robert Peel’s 1829 Bill for Improving the Police in and near the Metropolis, which is commonly regarded as marking the beginning of Britain’s modern criminal justice system. The subject of this watercolour is not one of Peel’s professional force, but is rather one of those watchmen, street-keepers, thief-takers and sergeants of the night who were responsible for keeping the peace under the old parochial system.
  2. CollectorInTheUSA


    Looks like a fascinating book, well done! Do you have a few photos of the contents? Are there lots of photos? Also, it looks like a Kindle version is the first to be published. There was a mention of a hard copy, when will that be available? Will there be a soft copy version?
  3. Perhaps you were the only bidder on the lots because they were estimated a bit high, but then on the other hand, it could just be that on the day, folks were sleeping in, or on holiday, or couldn't be bothered, or had spent all their money. The sale rooms are odd that way, sometimes you get good bargains, and some times a collector who is flush with cash will drive prices up tremendously. Sounds like on the day, you got lucky and didn't have to compete with anyone, which is the best possible scenario! But you got a lovely, lovely tipstaff, and as long as the paint wasn't touched up on it, a fair value for the money! Dave, you bought the whole collection? There must have been hundreds of truncheons/tipstaves there? Do you still have them?
  4. I do remember this tipstaff... Time does fly when you're having fun. I thought the pre-sale estimate of £350 - 400 was a bit ambitious. If I remember correctly it hammered at £350 and so with commission was very nearly £450. You must have wanted it very much, and I can see why as it's a very pretty one.
  5. Great pieces all, and look to be in beautiful condition. These do all look right to me, if you had any concerns, I don't think you should. I know you also called these "tipstaves" but I would personally call them just "staves" which is how the old timers would call them (singular would be "staff" or "stave"). The one on the extreme right I recognize as the Perthshire "High Constable" stave, and is a great looking one with detailed coats of arms. And nice to see a Georgian City of Brechin one as I had only seen a Victorian one before. The Investiture staff was actually carried by "Stewards" of the ceremony at Caernarfon. Here is an old Pathe Newsreel of the ceremony, and if you look carefully, you can actually see the Stewards carrying these staves. There were no more than a couple of dozen made for the ceremony so they are also, very rare. The newsreel can be seen here:
  6. CollectorInTheUSA

    Early tipstaves

    And also, on occasion I bought something (in my earlier days I must admit), brought it home, and sat down carefully with it under a proper light source, only to discover to my horror that some bit of it was reconstructed, or embellished, or even held with masking tape (sellotape for you Brits)! Once I looked carefully at a painted truncheon and found that it was re-painted. Another time bits of wood on a truncheon turned out to be barely dried wood putty. Oh, those were the heartbreak days... It took me a few years to stop buying "bargains" and take my time and use a good light source to examine a piece carefully!
  7. Wow, nine Scottish tipstaves is a very large collection indeed. As you likely already know they are all very very rare, so few to begin with, and even fewer survive, and so well done! Can you please upload photos? I'm sure we all would dearly love to see!
  8. CollectorInTheUSA

    Early tipstaves

    You are being very charitable by calling it a souvenir! :-) But yes, many of us did all learn the hard way, buying mistakes and paying for our education... I just wish there was a way to warn that high bidder! But no, the seller of this tipstaff has made this a "private listing - bidder identity protected" (see by clicking on bid history). Oh well, at least the happy owner of this contraption will be able to use it as a bottle opener!
  9. CollectorInTheUSA

    Early tipstaves

    To continue the discussion on Bow Street, there is presently a spurious "Bow Street tipstaff" on Ebay: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Tipstaff-vintage-constabulary/222737356820?hash=item33dc2e5814:g:eFsAAOSwrFtaHu3- It is of course a fake of the worst kind. In fact it's such a horrible fake, that its almost laughable that there would be a collector in our fraternity who would fancy owning it. In contrast, an authentic Bow Street Night Patrol painted truncheon recently achieved £1400 (not including 20% + VAT commission) at Reeman Dansie (UK) auction.
  10. CollectorInTheUSA

    Early tipstaves

    I'm happy to hear you learned something new. Maybe you can teach us something on a subject you know well! As an aside, the Gorringe's tipstaff described as: "An early 19th century brass tipstaff, inscribed Police Office, Bow.Stn 2, with turned hardwood handle, 7.5in. Estimate £350-450" did sell for a hair under the low estimate. I assume there was only one bidder. All I can say in response is repeat P. T. Barnum's oft-quoted quip, there's a sucker born every minute!
  11. CollectorInTheUSA

    Early tipstaves

    I completely agree with Mr. Cook. I think the "trick" to understanding engraving (if there is a trick) is to ask oneself, "If I were a professional engraver, would I be proud of this engraving as my handiwork?" The Georgian and Victorian metal workers and engravers were skilled (often highly-skilled) professionals, likely apprenticed for years, and many were even artistic. For the most part, they were careful about their work, and took pride in it, and received a fair price for it. As such, if you see a tipstaff with very sloppy engraving you may not be looking at original period work.
  12. CollectorInTheUSA

    Early tipstaves

    Hello Great Dane. My sense is that the tipstaff on the left and the tipstaff in the middle, are authentic. They are likely Victorian. They are rather pedestrian, and would not have great value, being the sort of little tipstaff that the working man office holder would keep in a pocket. It's nice to see that the tipstaff on the left has what appears to be the original purple (perhaps originally red, now discolored) velvet in the crown (meant to mimic the Royal Crown's "Cap of Maintenance"). The tipstaff to the right is a bit more involved, and looks to not have the wear pattern I would expect to see on a 150 year old tipstaff. Having said that, it is perhaps just in an excellent state of preservation. I think it's likely to be authentic, but I am just a tad bit less certain of this one. It does, however, look like it's perhaps missing its finial top (the "Maltese Cross"). You would have to send a photo that shows the top clearly for us to be able to determine that with certainty. I think the tipstaff on the right is probably also right, and would have had a slightly higher value than its brethren to the left, were it not for the missing finial. If the finial is not missing, then perhaps it would have a slightly higher value. I hope this is of some help to you, and please feel free to ask additional questions if you have them.
  13. CollectorInTheUSA

    Early tipstaves

    Adding to an old post, Gorringe's has in its next sale what they have described as: "An early 19th century brass tipstaff, inscribed Police Office, Bow.Stn 2, with turned hardwood handle, 7.5in. Estimate £350-450" I suppose one has to make up one's own mind as to the authenticity of this item.... Mercifully, Gorringe's provided many photos to peruse. This tipstaff can be seen here: http://auction.gorringes.co.uk/auction-lot-detail/LSEPT17/5
  14. CollectorInTheUSA

    Early tipstaves

    You're asking a very good question, for which I'm not sure there is a good answer. I believe Mervyn Mitton's book has a photo (black and white?) of a small tipstaff that reputedly belonged to a Bow Street Runner. That little tipstaff in Mervyn's book was unremarkable in its features. I am not sure whether the provenance for that little tipstaff was strong, or just hearsay and there is no real way to tell. There is another Bow Street attributed tipstaff on Alan Cook's website. I don't know if it is in Mr. Cook's collection, or in another collection. That tipstaff looks like a typical Public Office tipstaff of the late 18th / early 19th Century, and of the type you would want to look at. Mr. Cook says about the tipstaff: The tipstaff shown in figure 1 is unusual in that it is attributable to a specific officer. It is brass with a turned wood handle and is engraved on the barrel ‘J. Birchall / P.O / Bow Street’. It probably belonged to a John Birchall who appears regularly in the records at the Old Bailey. All of his cases occurred during the reign of George IV between 1823 and 1828. In each he is referred to as either an ‘officer’ or ‘constable’. The type of cases he was involved with included embezzlement, theft, pickpocketing, bigamy and grand larceny. You can see that tipstaff here: http://www.truncheon.org.uk/middlesex/ There were only half a dozen Bow Street Runners originally in that Public Office, so your chances of finding their tipstaff are slim. They were not particularly wealthy men (although with time they became well-known to the public and the media) and so the likelihood is high that they owned merely a simple, un-engraved, fairly unremarkable tipstaff, which is floating around somewhere, unrecognized for the rarity that it truly is. There were substantially more Bow Street Horse Patrol mounted riders (about 60 or so to start) and they carried painted truncheons in the period your seek (and up to 1836 when the Horse Patrol amalgamated with the newly-created Metropolitan Police). You may get lucky one day to lay your hands on a painted truncheon from the Bow Street Horse Patrol, but I daresay there are, in my opinion, fewer than ten such truncheons extant. And so, if you see a "Bow Street" tipstaff offered for sale anywhere, my advice would be to be be very very weary of it as there isn't a very good way to discern reality from fantasy. I believe the chanced of finding a tipstaff with a bona fide iron-clad attribution to a Bow Street Runner is virtually nill. Having said that, I did see a brass tipstaff engraved "Public Office Bow Street" come to the auction block recently but I would not bid on it because I thought it was spurious. It did not make very much money and so it appears other collectors agreed with me. The two websites you mention are fairly reputable dealers in militaria who have had both truncheons and tipstaffs for sale, but I don't recall them ever selling a tipstaff attributed to Bow Street. I'm not sure how helpful my ramblings are, but perhaps you will find them useful in some fashion.
  15. Hats off to all the police men and woman and first responders who stopped the carnage in London a few days ago. Read this article for a great example of the bravery exhibited by all: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/06/05/hero-rookie-officer-took-terrorists-baton-stabbed-face/