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Gentleman's Military Interest Club
Mervyn Mitton

RARE HISTORICAL MILITARIA PRINTS

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I have been told - many times - over the years, that members have old historical prints, but are not sure where to show them.

I understand that Cathey and her husband - in Australia ,have a collection and I was hoping to add some of mine to their post. However, I will not wait any further - and will start the thread off with three of great historical significance.

The practise in olden days - when newspapers were expensive and most of the public were illiterate - was to print and sell printed illustrated leaflets - usually for 1d (one penny ) each. This kept people abreast of news - and also allowed fun to be made of politicians and other public figures. Many of the artists of these drawings became famous and one of the best was Cruikshank. This first coloured one is by him - remember they could only print in black - all colour - at this time - is hand painted.

I have many others - a lot of them on early Police - I will gradually add them - however, I hope members will look out and post any old ones that they have.

(I am not a lover of seeing everything 'pinned' - but will do so for this one to get it 'off the ground')

Edited by Mervyn Mitton

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This is by Cruikshank and is dated 1807. The historical interest is great. Firstly - the gamblers are saying it is 11.30p.m. and the Beadle and the Parish Constable are saying it is midnight ! The reason for this is that it was illegal to gamble on

the Sabbath. The styles of dress are always of interest to an historian - and from our point of view the Parish Beadle is in traditional dress - and carrying his staff of office. Next to him is a figure described as the 'Watch' - he is in fact the Parish

Constable - he is also carrying his staff of office with a Crown on top to show official authority. This was called a tipstaff and the Watch - or, night patrol, did not have them. The people behind them would be the Watch - with their candle lanterns -

and also the assistants to the Constable - often, at that time, called bum-bailiffs. They were the ones to do any fighting.

Remember - these are caricature drawings - intended to poke fun at people, which explains why they are all made to look so rough and villainous.

Here is the original label - with the price I paid some 50 years ago ! This picture is not in the British Museum collection.

Edited by Mervyn Mitton

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This fascinating drawing dates from 1783 and shows the 'hangers-on' who accompanied troops - and indeed, helped to move their equipment. These very early pamphlets help to expalin a lot of the writings of the day. The label is the next

post.

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Mervyn

Good insight on the etchings reminding you of Roman Legions. Bellona was the Roman Goddess of War who was usually depicted wearing a helmet.

I believe 1783 was when the British had to officially recognise the United States at theTreaties of Versialles and pulled the last troops from New York. I can't quite make out the writing but I suppose they could be referring to that.

Even though the French figured they'd beaten the British at last it almost bankrupted France and led to the revolution with the rest being history.

Never enough time to get into everything is there. Thanks for showing these wonderful things and some money 50 years ago!

Cheers

Spaz

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Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen.....

Sorry this is not a print but an original......

Mike

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Mervyn......

It reads in two lines.......

12th (THE PRINCE OF WALES'S ROYAL) LANCERS

HARRY PAYNE 1881

Mike

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Here's my humble contribution to the thread...

A colour lithograph from Fritz von Dardel's "Svenska och Norska Arméerna samt flottorna i deras nuvarande uniformering" (The Contemporary Uniforms of the Swedish and Norwegian Armies and Navies), printed by Lemercier in Paris in the early 1860's. It's heading straight for the boy's room wall, whenever that room will be ready...

/Jonas

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Oops sorry, British thread, but at least I got the age reasonably right... Mervyn, please move my contribution if you want.

/Jonas

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Jonas - it's fine - and a lovely print. Ideal for any boy's room. Lith. stands for lithograph - the form of printing.

Some great old Vanity Fair prints from Stuart and the lovely one of the 12th Lancers from Mike. We must hope other members will post theirs ?

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Hi sorry about the delay in posting prints, but Rex does not know how to post and has to wait for me to help him.

The first print is Napoleon looking very dejected, no artists names present, the second is call Napoleon and his Generals.

Cheers Cathey and Rex

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Hi guys

Large Oil Painting of a young Napoleon by myself, based on a combination of various old prints and including Napoleons coat of arms. I had intended to do a matching Wellington, but I am extremely time poor.

Cheers Cathey

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Hi Guys

as you can see we are keen on military prints, if you want close ups of any of these let us know and we will try.

Cheers Rex

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Cathey and Rex - I have admired your swords on the Collections section - however, your display of prints and early weaponry is exceptional. Sincere congratulations - it is a pleasure to see such expertise . However, I must say - what particularly impressed me, was your comment that you needed time to paint a matching Wellington. Your painting of Napoleon would bring a considerable sum - in South Africa alone, we have three Napoleonic Societies.

Now, you've rather left yourselves open when you ask which prints we would like enlarged - the obvious answer is -- all of them ! We must be realistic though, and perhaps , for my part, I would like the 'Thin Red Line' and perhaps the two of Lord Nelson - particularly his final embarkation for HMS Victory.

I think this post on early prints will continue to grow - we have been fortunate to start off so well. Mervyn

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THE EXECUTION OF AN ENGLISH TRAITOR

In the 1970s I picked up the accompanying picture while on holidays in France. It is a page from a French magazine named Supplément Littéraire Illustré du “Petit Parisien”, unfortunately the page is undated but obviously it is from the Boer War. This picture of an execution intrigued me then, but it still puzzles me today, and for many reasons.

jq2dg3.jpg

UN TRAITRE ANGLAIS

EXECUTION D’UN GARDE-SÉMAPHORE

Un garde-sémaphore ainglais a été convaincu de correspondence avec l’ennemi, dans des conditions exceptionellement graves.

Voici comment les faits se sont passes: Ces jours derniers, un navire charché de troupes entrait au port de Durban. Au moment où le bateau passait devant le promontoire en haut duquel se trouve un semaphore l’officier de quart remarqua des signaux de télégraphie optique qui étaient faits de l’autre côté de phare. Il dénonça aussitôt le gardien du semaphore qui fut tout de suit soumis à une surveillance discrete.

Bientôt, on acquit la certitude que ce dernier signalait chaque nouvelle arrive de troupes et d’armes à des complices postés sur une montagne, à quelque distance de là.

Ces complices communiquaient les renseignements, par le meme procédé, de hauteur en hauteur, à des individus qui, en deux ou trios jours, les transmattaient au quartier general boër situé sur la Tugela.

L’ennemi fut ainsi assez exactement renseigné sur les forces anglaises envoyées au general Buller, et qui, toutes, passaient par le port de Durban.

Le gardien du semaphore inculpé fit des aveux; on apprit que ses exercices de télégraphie optique duraient depuis le commencement de la guerre, et que chaque télégramme lui rapportait quinze cents francs. Il avait gagné ainsi environ cent cinquante mille francs: un joli dernier.

C’était un Anglais pur sang, d’une soixantaine d’années; il occupait la place depuis longtemps et avait su inspirer la plus grande contiance.

Sa femme et ses cinq enfants qui ignoraient ce manège se livrèrent à un désespoir déchirant quand on embarqua le gardien à bord d’un navire de guerre où il fut fusillé.

L ‘exécution eut lieu aussi discrètement que possible, mais pas assez cependant pour que le fait ne fût connu par les habitants de Durban.

From the French explanation on the reverse(above) it can be deducted that the culprit was a 60 years old English semaphore guard in the harbour of Durban. He admitted that since the beginning of the (Boer) war he transmitted telegrams containing military information to the Boer HQ on the Tugela River for money (1500 francs a time) and in total he gained 150,000 francs. Thus he informed the Boer HQ at Tugela about the reinforcements general Buller was landing in Durban. He was taken on board a British warship and shot. The execution took place as discreetly as possible, but not enough however so that it was known by the inhabitants of Durban.

First there is the brutality of the scene. Like Admiral Byng in 1757, this (yet) unknown man was shot in the back while sitting on his knees on the deck, blindfolded and facing forward. The only method of capital punishment in the Royal Navy I have knowledge of in the 19th century, is hanging. Did more shootings like this occur on board Navy ships?

In the explanation there is no mention about any form of trial. Why bring a traitor on board of a Navy ship to shoot him? Instead they could have hanged him ashore. Why was the execution carried out by the Navy?

Even stranger is that the shooting is executed by seamen commanded by the MAA instead of a marines detail. The hapless Admiral Byng was shot by marines, rather obvious when you know that most rifle jobs on board were carried out by marines.

And most puzzling is, in all these years I have found no record of this exceptionally execution, and this makes is even more sinister. Why did no local or regional paper report about it? Is it a French hoax perhaps, made up to stir anti-British sentiments? Or is it just a case of juicy journalism based on hear-say? But still, it is an intriguing picture.

Edited by Odulf

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Odulf - the French were proBoer and quite anti British in the Boer War. I have a collection of about 50 of the Petite Parisien from this period - it was their colour supplement. They picked out stories and had them illustrated in lurid style and with little regard for accuracy. They delighted in showing the British as aggressors and the drawings always showed them being beaten or, behaving badly. I have never heard of this 'execution' - and I cannot for a moment, think of a British Captain having his decks splattered with blood.

I will be interested to hear if Brett Hendy or, Will Endley have heard of this 'incident' - or, indeed from any member ?

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