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I've been wondering recently what sorts of resources are out there to help us identify some of the markings on our truncheons and other staves.  Often the auction houses or sellers do the adequate research or the town names are painted on the wood, but in many cases, it's unidentified and we have to rely on some expert work or another.


Here's an example of the dealer not mentioning that the truncheon is a Cambridge University piece. I had to flip through a heraldry book online to pick out the proper nomenclature to even begin looking up what it meant.


This doesn't apply to town crests, either, many of which are sometimes hard to describe properly to bring up a good result. Edingburgh, Manchester? Fairly easy.  Coats of arms of smaller counties?  Not always simple.

So, what other resources are out there?  What do you use?

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I should explain at the outset that I'm not, for a variety of reasons into truncheons. That said, having collected police insignia for nearly 45 years I have inherited (via various police badge collections which I've bought) one or two wooden and one metal piece which I've kept. As to your question I use two books, "The Book of Public Arms" by A.C. Fox- Davies and "Civic Heraldry of England & Wales" by C.W. Scott-Giles. Published in 1864 and 1933 respectively and obviously long out of print. However, there are one or two websites which are quite useful and which can easily be found using your search engine. I hope this is helpful.


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Thanks, Dave.  That's a couple of lovely leads.

Of course, it also always helps to have a copy of Mervyn's book at hand!

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I concur with Dave about Scott Giles' book and used this as my mainstay for many years. Civic and Corporate Heraldry published in 1971 by the Heraldry Society is also useful. The issue comes when the arms are personal rather than civic. In my early days of collecting I did pay for proper research from the College of Arms, but this is very expensive. Fortunately I have now made some good contacts, who help me out as a favour. The other problem is painters often used a lot a licence and you do find arms, which are just wrong, which is not helpful. When arms are used on truncheons they normal relate to larger towns and cities so it does not take long to become acquainted with the more common ones.

You may have come across pieces of crested china in the past and there is a good book called The Price Guide to Arms and Decorations on Goss China. Again I have found this helpful.

One piece of advice I would offer, is always follow leads up and do your own research. I love my Fenn Clark, Dicken and Mitton truncheon reference books, but they do contain errors (as does my own book so I'm not trying to cast stones).

In some instances the town 'seal' was used rather than the full arms, which can be problematic.


The above image appears on an item, which I had seen go through a number of dealers before ending up in my collection. It is painted on a square headed West Country style piece and everyone thought it was an image of the constable. It is actual a representation of the seal of the borough of Penryn. The full description is a man in profile, couped at the breast, vested over the shoulder, and wreathed about the temples with laurel, tied behind with two ribbons flotant.

Heraldry is a fascinating study and good luck with you research.

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