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Mike McLellan

Truncheon Art: Artistic License or Fake

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I could never afford to be a collector of early police truncheons, but, over the years, a few have slipped, unnoticed, into my collection of old cop-related things. I do have an avid novice's interest in them, and when a particularly beautiful example surfaces on one of the dealer or auction sites, I study the photos and attempt to glean as much information as I can about them. Depictions of the Royal Coat of Arms in all of its variant forms are of particular interest to me, and the subtleties and nuanced differences in the artistry are fascinating. In some examples, the artist's talent is breathtaking. In others, less so. But in general, artists always adhere to the official Blazon of the arms which mandates the appropriate colors. For example: In the royal COA, the first and fourth quarter are red (gules) with 3 lions. The third quarter is blue (azure) with the Irish harp. 

At this very moment, on the saleroom site, there are two truncheons, offered by different auction houses, where the first and fourth quarters of the royal arms is blue with three lions, and the Irish harps quarter has a red background! The exclamation mark is a feeble attempt to make my observations less boring. But why would an otherwise beautifully done depiction of the COA have the wrong colors? One truncheon looks like it was created yesterday, It is in mint condition. There is a curious ball finial above the crown, but otherwise meets my non-expert expectations. The colors of the COA, though, just makes it look fake to me. I'm left with the impression that this stick was created by a highly skilled artisan on the sub continent, or further east.

The other example is a baluster style truncheon that is beautifully crafted and painted with great skill. It has the appearance and condition one might expect of a GlllR stick. But it, too, has blue in the first and fourth quarter, and red in the third quarter. 

These are the only examples that I've noticed where the colors are patently incorrect. Am I making a big deal out of nothing? Are they honest mistakes of the artists or whoever commissioned their manufacture? Have I just been non-observant over the years, and missed numerous examples of what I've described? What do you think? 




Edited by Mike McLellan

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Photos would help.  Without photos, hard to express an opinion.  I can say, however, that I have seen colors deteriorate over the years.  For example, vivid yellow turns into ochre, canary blue turns into near black, etc.  More than 200 years and sunlight plus oxidation can wreak havoc on painted surfaces.

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