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The Sheriff's Staff or, Wand of Office. All are of Sheffield plate - this was an invention by Thomas Bolsover in 1741 and made use of the new rolling presses. You took a block of silver - a block of copper and another block of silver , and rolled it out to the desired thickness. Often worth more then silver it is considered very special when wear allows the copper to shine through on the high points. This is well illustrated on the bands on the shaft.

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Head of the Sheriff's Staff. Again, note the Dolphins and scallop shells. The cross on the top is known as a cross pate - it crosses itself in order that whichever way you hold it a full Cross is shown. This is taken from the Royal regalia and shows Royal Authority.

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Now that you have seen these magnificent pieces - the only Town Regalia that I have ever seen for sale in all my years of collecting - I must explain a little about them. A very good friend has just bought them to add to his lovely collection and I thought I should show them for their beautiful workmanship, history and rarity.

Firstly, I have been their carer for over 40 years - the dolphins and the scallop shells are in fact part of the arms of Poole in Dorset - where I have my main home. They had their Regalia stolen pre-war and when I first saw these I had thoughts that I had recovered them and that my Knighthood would be on it's way. Not so - they already had them back. However, the two

supporters are part of the arms of the prominent Poole family - whose main estates are outside of Chester and near the borders of Wales. Hence the Prince of Wales feathers. Poole is probably named after a link with the family - it's Charter is from the 1200's. Poole was a port for embarkation to the Continent and - of course - a scallop shell was worn by Pilgims' on a visit to the Holy Land.

I have visited both the Victoria and Albert Museum and Christies in an effort to trace the town they are from. We are almost certain that they date from 1800 to 1820. (I say 1800, Christies say approx.1820) However, in the period between about 1810 and 1820 England allowed a terrible scandal to take place. By various Charters from the Crown and from Parliament,

many Towns had common land surrounding them. This was to allow the residents to graze animals and to plant crops and they were very dependent on this right.

The English Parliament was very corrupt at that time - many of the seats held privately and called 'Rotten Boroughs'. The people living in them had to vote as they were told. Many of these landlords got together and pushed through both Houses a law known as - 'The Enclosures Act'. This took away the common land and in the space of a few years , whole towns and communities ceased to exist. The people just moved away and became the first 'fodder' for the new factories that were being built in the Midlands and the North.

I am fairly certain that this lovely Regalia is the victim of the Enclosures Act. They are not named - they knew which town they belonged to - unfortunately that has been forgotten. However, no current town would allow it's regalia of office to be given away - it would go into the Town Museum. I think when the town closed, that these pieces went to the Poole family and at some later date were given away or, lent to a theatre company. They - and another piece dating to the 15th Century were found in a Masonic Hall - where such amateur productions used to take place.

I have enjoyed their presence for many years - however, at my age it is time these rare objects went to a special collection.

p.s.Look at the wooden shafts - you can see where they were stood in a rack in front of the Mayor and Sheriff.

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Could these have been a "working" set of municipal regalia so that the more valuable versions could be kept locked safely away to be brought out on special occasions only?

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Nick - some Towns do have two - or, more - sets of regalia. Really depended on the wealth of the Town and the generosity of the landed families that lived near-by.

One has to make some suppositions when dealing with an entity that has matching - and very expensive regalia, but no provenance of origin. The Mayoral Mace is a given - and we know from the marks on the handle that it would have been carried in front of the Mayor and stood in a holder with two support rings, when he was seated.

The original puropose of a Sheriff was as the King's representitive in a County - or, a given area. It was an important position - held nowdays by a Lord Lieutenant. There are ,I believe, only 9 left - which includes Poole. The quality of the staff is high and the supporters match the Mace. I feel that this has to be for an important person.

The smaller one with the POW feathers , also matches the set with the same handle as the Mace - the top is different. A Head Constable for a Town would be included in any procession - and of course a tipstaff was necessary to exercise his powers. The Royal Seal in this case not being the Crown or, Cypher - but, rather the Prince of Wales symbol. Which makes me think it was all near to the Welsh Borders and he may have had to cross boundaries.

By going through the registers for the areas around the Poole Estates, perhaps there may be a list of communities that disappeared ? Also, although the Borough of Poole denied that their set was still missing - never-the-less, it would match very well. Perhaps there was another unused set in existance. The area was certainly a wealthy one.

An interesting mystery - however, at the end of the day - they still remain as one of the rarest civic sets in private hands. Had they a name engraved on them then I think the value would be astronomical.

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I'm not convinced of any connexion between the town of Poole in Dorset and the Poole family from Cheshire. There is a Poole Hall and a settlement called Poole a couple of miles north west of Nantwich but that was never important enough to have a mayor, sheriff and town constable.

I would bet my bottom dollar that the regalia is from Poole, Dorset. It had a municipal corporation and therefor a mayor and it was also a county corporate with its own sheriff.

As for the constable's staff with the Prince of Wales feathers one thought is that it dates from the Regency when the Prince of Wales ruled as a proxy of George III.

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Nick - all good possibilities. The ancient Town of Poole does tick all of the boxes - however, they denied the missing set hadn't been found. Should it be possible to link it to Poole , then it becomes even rarer. Hopefully the new owner will be able to carry out some research - maybe a local historian could be put to work checking the Poole archives - they go back 800 years.

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Just a short note to add to the history of these pieces. They were sent to the US and the unpleasant Customs seized them for examination.

Since they didn't recognise them --- and ignored my note in the box - they called in the FBI ! Who in turn called in the Federal Drugs people.

Luckily my note had big lettering saying that the head of the Mace unscrewed - they would probably have cut it in half. It finallky arrived dirty, and

dismantled - but unharmed.

People are always saying how rude the US officials are - it's time someone told them to be polite - not everyone is a terrorist.

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I think the probability is high that they, at some time, belonged to the Town of Poole, although legally they may not now belong to Poole. In the 1820 Poole was almost bankrupt (what’s new) and could be when the unpaid Poole Town Clerk, Thomas Parr, seized all the assets in lieu of payment of salary and they were removed then, some were "regained" but not necessarily all.
It’s good to know they may still exist and have not been melted down for the silver, lets hope Poole can regain them and use them again in  Poole

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Adhple   -  welcome to GMIC.    Thank you most sincerely for the extra info. on Poole  -  most welcome.    What is your connection with Poole ?     Mervyn

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Hi Mrevyn, Poole is my home town; I can trace my family in Poole back to c1750, when I first became aware of them I realised that the Dolphin and Scallops on a Mace then it must be for the Town of Poole.

Are you able to tell me anything more about them? Have they silver marks, or engraving? Where are they now and are they on public display?  You can message me on FB  Andrew Aux

 

Edited by adhple
missing word

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