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ayedeeyew

Metropolitan Police kit c.1880-1920 (What do you have put away. ?)

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Hello, this a first posting by myself, although I have been lurking for quite a while now.

My name is Andrew Upton, a long standing WW1 reenactor, but last year as a result of some good fortune I decided to branch out into another area that has interested me for some time, namely Police kit of the late 19th/early 20th century. Having looked extensively through this section of the forum last night I am now certain some of my questions I am struggling to answer at the moment might be found here.

I have decided to concentrate on the Metropolitan Police, given its long-standing history and large size, and focus on two main dates. The second covers the Great War, and I am looking to expand into this when the first is up and running. This is the period 1880-90, more specifically c.1888, Whitechapel…

To break things up, I will start at the top and work down!

One item I am currently trying to locate is a replica London Metropolitan Police helmet plate of the pattern used at the end of the 19th century (the style illustrated below, with the Guelphic Crown). Given I am aiming for Whitechapel, one with an H prefix would be preferable, however if it was a good copy with removable numbers like the originals then this is unimportant as I can change it. This is holding me back on the tunic front at the moment, since whatever number is on the plate will ultimately have to go on the collar as well, so I cannot finish the tunic until I have located one. As I understand it, copies of this were quite abundant about 5-10 years ago, yet seem to be rarely seen today (and often seem to go for a tidy bundle on Ebay when they do appear!):


I am also looking for one of the later Kings Crown version, either original or reproduction (as seen below):



To end this first post, I am also looking for a suitable cork helmet for the late 19th century. As I understand it, for the Met this should be cork, 6-panelled, rose-topped, with a single vent either side, a metal band around the body (metal fittings being blackened). I have seen the following two helmets for sale on a dealers site. Both are my size (7 1/8). To my eye the top helmet seems to generally fit the pattern, with the exception of the cloth band as opposed to metal (which I believe would be easily swapped over). The lower seems to have the right sort of fittings, but the style seems somewhat off to my eye. Any comments or suggestions would be appreciated:


More to come later!

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To a jacket - I volunteer for the local Oxfam "Hub", and back in 2010 we were one of a number of Hubs that received a large donation of items from Angels the Costumiers in London. I obtained a number of items for my use and collection from this (including an original 1918 dated jacket I believe is for dress purposes, which sparked the Police kit interest), and the following 8-button tunic (made in 1956) thats fits me, of the style introduced in 1864. I aim to replace the missing buttons with original QVC London Metropolitan Police buttons, of which I already have sufficient numbers to do the job. However, I have seen somewhat contradictory information as to how many buttons it should have. I know it should have 8 down the front, but I have seen information that says only two should be worn on the back (at the waist), yet I have seen various pictures from the period that would seem to suggest another two were worn lower down on the panels (and indeed the jacket is pierced for four buttons). Is four buttons on the rear a later change, and if so when was it introduced?

http://postimage.org/image/czn9f3anv/

RIMG1333.jpg

http://postimage.org/image/ggcgfoix1/full/ RIMG1334.jpg http://postimage.org/image/xpf58yhe5/ RIMG1336.jpg

Edited by ayedeeyew

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Belt - the 2 1/2 inch wide snake-clasp black leather version, introduced to all ranks in 1862. Pictures of the example below posted by a previous poster. I am looking to obtain one like this: http://postimage.org/image/wq6atj31z/ Metropolitan_Police_belt_1.jpg http://postimage.org/image/ephzl9rip/ Metropolitan_Police_belt_2.jpg http://postimage.org/image/mz8z3k4l3/ Metropolitan_Police_belt_3.jpg http://postimage.org/image/9uw3sd8l7/ post_1678_128068738942_1.jpg

Edited by ayedeeyew

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Hi Andrew - welcome to GMIC - and particularly to our Police Forum. I must be honest and say that Brian

and myself would normally refer you onto the wanted section of the Sales Forum. However, your questions

are most interesting and will help to promote research - so don't dare try to move !

There are very few of the 1860's tunics - most that you see today are tailors copies. And , you also have

to remember that the changes for the County Forces took place over a number of years.

For the Metropolitan Police our dress uniforms - which were issued to inner Divisions (incl. my old Div. 'H')

- were based on the earlier types of tunics and had two dress buttons on the rear. This would fit in with your

research.

No-one person can be an expert on all changes of kit over a 183 year period - I presume you have seen a

copy of my book, which covers a lot of early equipment. However, it does not go into great detail on uniform.

The remaining parts of my collection are in my home in the UK and I do not have great access to them. Having

said that, I may be able to help with a King's Crown numbered plate and possibly a belt(also, a wool cape). I will contact you in future.

Meanwhile, I hope that our many police members and collectors will be be ablt to join-in. Mervyn

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Thanks for the reply Mervyn, glad to see I'm not talking to myself :) .

The additional information on the jacket buttons is good. As a result of me cataloging the 579 boxes of ex-Angels kit our Oxfam alone received I ended up getting an internship with Angels uniform department in Hendon for 2 months back in the summer of 2010, so got to see a lot of what goes on behind the scenes (anyone who saw the two Policeman in the TV version of "The Crimson Petal and the White" will have seen a lot of my handiwork!). The vast majority of the jackets Angels used were like mine, ex-Police original dress versions, often rebadged and renumbered many times (hence the collar on mine has been replaced at some point due to the original having been destroyed). As buttons come and go with alarming frequency I wanted to be sure that the four hole piercing wasn't a modification done to represent another force or period at some point in Angels use of it.

I have not seen a copy of your book, so another good thing to add to the list to look for. Most books I have seen searching on Ebay tend to focus either on the force history, or just the buttons/badges aspect, and not the whole package in any detail.

The sound of a possible belt, plate and cape also sound excellent, I have been busy with the camera tonight for another spate of posts and questions which link in particularly with the latter.

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Capes - oilskin raincapes in this case. I own two, the first is an original Met issue one, and further information as to the date span of issue for these would be appreciated:

The cape in general

http://postimage.org/image/r75trns9b/full/

RIMG1340.jpg[/url]

Met mark

http://postimage.org/image/61ibhhj25/

RIMG1341.jpg[/url]

Makers mark - unfortunately double stamped originally, and very difficult to read as a result, any one who can fill in the gaps?

http://postimage.org/image/g64knwuap/

RIMG1342.jpg[/url]

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And my other cape - this was one of many that came to Oxfam with the ex-Angels kit, and I believe it to be an older reproduction as the only marking is a sewn in card tag for 5 capes. If it is a copy it is very well done, the only slight curiousity being they fasten at the collar in the opposite fashion to my known original:

http://postimage.org/image/nlfhqx29p/full/

http://postimage.org/image/4v73vrnm3/

http://postimage.org/image/7sbgda5jr/full/

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Back to belt kit - bulls-eye lantern I own, Met used oil lanterns of this style between 1840 and 1920 (when they moved to electrical torches). This particular example is very basic in construction but in full working order (I lit it up tonight to take the pictures outside, it has a delightful life to the light it gives that electricity cannot compare to):

http://postimage.org/image/7iffa9ngn/

http://postimage.org/image/wp30t7cun/

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Linking back to the capes again - an original unissued 1960's cape holder I bought on Ebay. I believe these to be of a pattern as used during the 19th century, but again would appreciate any further information as to their date span and use (eg where these for both the wool and oilskin capes, and how would a cape be folded for carriage in such a holder). As this is completely mint if anyone has a used example they want to part with I would also be interested:

http://postimage.org/image/lh1k90w2j/full/

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The patterns for cape holders were very similar - but, I think of different materials. They were suspended from the

left hip with the cape rolled and doubled.

The originals were covered with a rubberised coating - prone to becoming sticky and to crack. There was also the other

pattern issued - this was of wool and was for very cold weather - it was worn over the greatcoat. The weight must have

been backbreaking.

I was issued with a gabardine cape - numerals either side of the throat and the collar closed with the usual bent pin fastener.

One lesson learned in Victorian times and always laid down in Regs. - was that a cape was not to be worn after dark.

Just too many of our early police found the cape being pulled over their heads. They were then helpless with boith arms pinned.

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The originals were covered with a rubberised coating - prone to becoming sticky and to crack.

Indeed, my original has to be folded very carefully to minimise the waterproof coating in contact with the same, otherwise it tends to stick to itself!

This week I received the last QVC Metropolitan Police button in the post, giving me:

http://postimage.org/image/v8c7l0hpz/

I took the 10 most closely matched/best condition buttons, and five hours of sewing them on (and moving the duty-band loops down a little) left me with:

http://postimage.org/image/dm4zlvuaz/

And the reverse:

http://postimage.org/image/db6btp0pv/

The cuff band is a modern repro which I have added a buckle to.

The numbers are just a matched set I put on to fill the gap until I get an appropriate helmet plate to match to. If anyone has a matched pair of the approximately 3/4 inch white metal/chromed "H"s for Whitechapel or a pair of "full-stops" that go between them and the numbers (at Angels we used cut-down split pins painted silver for the purpose) then I am after these at present.

Incidentally, after I sewed the buttons on I saw the following postcard on Ebay:

http://postimage.org/image/joh7q484r/

Whilst an artists picture is not always a reliable indicator of fact, in this case it does quite nicely show off only two buttons being worn at the waist on the back of the jacket.

Edited by ayedeeyew

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Giving this one a bump, with some updates. Trying to get my kit sorted out for a possible event at the start of December.

I've sorted myself out for a helmet/plate now, so working towards collar number H. 171 to match:

http://postimage.org/image/kuy2xf72n/

I have a pair of 171's, but have been struggling to find any H's of the right size:

http://postimage.org/image/a4w885qw1/

If anyone knows of any dealers, etc, that might have a pair or preferably several pair of chrome/white metal H's, preferably about 2cm tall with thread fittings (or slightly taller/shorter at a pinch, with loops or prongs) they are all I need to finish off my jacket now.

I am also getting close to having some leatherwork copied - does anyone here have access to one of these leather guards for use with the oil lamp? I want to get a copy made up to use with my lamp, but from the few pictures I've been able to find I'm struggling on the detail:

http://postimage.org/image/6gubxf3kr/full/

http://postimage.org/image/5orapkcip/

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Andrew,

I've managed to obtain the same helmet plate. I suspect we share the same supplier.

As a side issue, PC 171 H arrested a man outside Commercial St nick during September 88, he was becoming abusive due to the fact his mate had been arrested (I suspect this was Pizer aka leather Apron).

So you have a little back story to your chosen collar number.

Mervyn,

Where and how can one obtain a copy of your book?

Kind regards all,

Monty

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Andrew,

I've managed to obtain the same helmet plate. I suspect we share the same supplier.

As a side issue, PC 171 H arrested a man outside Commercial St nick during September 88, he was becoming abusive due to the fact his mate had been arrested (I suspect this was Pizer aka leather Apron).

So you have a little back story to your chosen collar number.

Mervyn,

Where and how can one obtain a copy of your book?

Kind regards all,

Monty

Monty,

If all else fails I have a nearly new signed copy of Mr. Mitton's book which is surplus to my requirements.

Best wishes, Dave.

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Monty - the copies I have in the UK are not all signed. Perhaps the one from Dave will be better. I did a special offer to PICA

(Police Insignia Collectors Assoc. ) of which I am a member - I think it was 20 pounds incl. p&p in the UK. Certainly on the book

forums it seems to sell 2nd hand for around the 40/50 $ mark. I have seen it on at $75 - but that's a silly price.

I've always found it strange that up to 40/50 books a month are published with a military theme - but, the only books on Police -

collecting and history, not just Force histories , has been mine (1985) Dixon (1952) and Fenn Clarke (1932). Both of the last two were

privately published in small numbers and Fenn Clarke can sell for up to 200 pounds - dependent on condition. He actually lived as

a young boy when PC's still wore top hats. I don't go back quite that far.................... Mervyn

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That's very kind of you Dave, thank you. I signed copy huh? Brilliant. Rather than discuss the vulgar subject of money here can I PM you?

Indeed Mervyn

A friend of mine highly reccomended your book and during the same conversation expressed his frustration that there are not more out there like that.

I'm having to pick up bits and bobs off the internet and the sage words off contributors here. No offence to anyone however it would be nice to have something tangible I can pick up and put down.

Monty

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That's very kind of you Dave, thank you. I signed copy huh? Brilliant. Rather than discuss the vulgar subject of money here can I PM you?

Indeed Mervyn

A friend of mine highly reccomended your book and during the same conversation expressed his frustration that there are not more out there like that.

I'm having to pick up bits and bobs off the internet and the sage words off contributors here. No offence to anyone however it would be nice to have something tangible I can pick up and put down.

Monty

Monty,

I've sent you a PM.

Dave.

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Andrew,

I've managed to obtain the same helmet plate. I suspect we share the same supplier.

As a side issue, PC 171 H arrested a man outside Commercial St nick during September 88, he was becoming abusive due to the fact his mate had been arrested (I suspect this was Pizer aka leather Apron).

So you have a little back story to your chosen collar number.

Thanks for the information Monty. Mine came from Neil Storey, and given the number is solid cast as part of it I did wonder if I could expect to see another H171 in future. If you need any collar H's I eventually found a supplier who had multiple originals I can highly recommend... I must get on and put some updated photos up, the tunic looks great with the correct collar insignia all in place.

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Yes Andrew, I got mine from Mr Storey also. I have mine framed, pending the appropriate helmet. If you could give me the Collar letter suppliers details Id be grateful. There is someone I know who may be interested. Thanks you. Hi Colin, Yep, got your PM. I'll give you the heads up at the end of the week as per our 'chat'. Again, many thanks. Monty

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Yes Andrew, I got mine from Mr Storey also. I have mine framed, pending the appropriate helmet. If you could give me the Collar letter suppliers details Id be grateful. There is someone I know who may be interested.

Sent a PM. And a few pictures to update this:

Full length jacket front

http://postimage.org/image/a6vhaqqjb/

Focus on collar

http://postimage.org/image/wappbzme7/full/

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As an update, I finally got the 1888 kit together to a standard I was happy with in time for some volunteer work at CHSW with the local Victorian Evening last Friday. The real Police were sufficiently interested as to my getting a mention on Twitter:

https://twitter.com/ASPNSomerset/status/411581015963205632/photo/1

Edited by ayedeeyew

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