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    I recently obtained a Parker, Field tipstaff at auction. I'll try to add pictures. It's (I think) silver-plated brass bearing the badge of Newcastle. The silver is almost completely worn, as is the gilding of the crown. The ivory (?) hand grip has a hair-line crack running its entire length. The tipstaff is engraved to T. WILSON, and the makers name and address is roll-marked in small print. I don't collect tipstaves, as such, but picked it up as "trading stock" for things that I'm interested in, namely, items of the Metropolitan Police. 

   If anyone has any information or opinions that they would like to share, I'd be a grateful student. Also, if anyone has something from the Met, of comparable value, please keep in in mind. 

   There is a Newcastle tipstaff in Mevyn's book that somewhat resembles mine. Thanks, Mike McLellan





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Sorry for the delay  -  I forgot all about  it.....

The same pattern of Tipstaff - but with 17 ebony hand rings was used for showing authority by the Tipstaff.   For extra cost there was a version with ivory rings  -  this was intended for senior officers and magistrates.  They are quite rare and you should keep it in your collection.    The three sets of castles are the arms for   Newcastle on Tyne and this tipstaff would have been the Chief Constable or, his Deputy.  Mervyn

Edited by Mervyn Mitton
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     Thank you Mervyn. As stated earlier, I picked this up with the hopes of trading it off for Met related items. Of course, living where I do, opportunities to swap insignia is pretty much nonexistent. I allowed my PICA-GB membership to lapse back in the early 1990s when my collecting interests began to get stale, but I'm considering requesting re-admission (if they'll have me!). Thanks for the information. 

    By the way Mervyn, thank you, as well, for the years of inspiration you have given me through your beautiful and informative book. When I bought it, you were kind enough to autograph it for me. Seems like a long time ago, doesn't it?


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Dear Mike  -  back in 1987 I see that I could still write.  Muscular Dystrophy has changed that into a chicken scratch.    I am pleased that the book has given you help and information  -  after all it is the reason an author writes.

Do rejoin Pica   -  I have been a member for some 40 years.   Unfortunately the membership is getting old  - ex Ch. Supt. Wilkinson - the Chairman is retiring shortly.

With your tipstaff named to Wilson, Northumbria Police must have records available.

Best wishes   Mervyn 

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     Well, as much of an update as I've been able to uncover, which isn't very much.  Professor Google was able to provide a hint here and a hint there, but placing an artifact in the hands of an actual person is very difficult indeed. Presuming that this tipstaff was used between 1842 and 1877, based on the maker's mark, and searching for a T WILSON who was active in political circles around that time, produced only two possibilities. One was a Thomas Wilson who was a leader of sorts within the clergy. As he was active mainly in and about London, I ruled him out as a likely candidate. The only other possibility that the internet was willing to offer up was another Thomas Wilson. This one seemed promising, but with some serious reservations. 

     Thomas Wilson (1773-1858) was born in Gateshead (actually Low Fell). He worked in the collieries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne as a child and was a serious student in Sunday School, which was the only institution for higher learning available to most working people. He landed a job in a counting house, and soon became a partner in the firm Losh, Wilson, & Bell, which was also located in Newcastlle. He was also a noted poet.



      In 1835, he was elected to serve as one of the Common Council members in Gateshead where he lived, across the River Tyne from his place of business. In addition he was also appointed to the post of Alderman, a post in which he served for eighteen years. He surely was entitled to display a tipstaff, and being a man of some wealth, he would have had the means to have a 'better than average' tipstaff. 

    The problem I have in declaring a "match" is that the tipstaff bears the arms of Newcastle rather that those of Gateshead , as one might expect. Why? When I asked the folks at the Gateshead Heritage Group what they thought, I was told that my tipstaff had nothing whatever to do with the poet Thomas Wilson, because of the Newcastle Arms. I thought, at the time, that maybe their conclusion was swayed just a little by some friendly civic rivalry. 

   The Tyne and Wear museum, for a small fee, conducts research on historical persons, etc, and after some digging, they weren't able to produce any other alternative theory. They did search the minutes of the Newcastle Council meetings of the time period and were not able to find any other T WILSON. 

    A request for help from the Northumbria Police was not answered. Presumably, and understandably, they haven't the time or resources to investigate such a 'cold case'.

   Back to the Arms. Perhaps Mr. Wilson felt that the Newcastle arms appeared more regal than that of Gateshead, which at the time displayed the severed head of a goat. After reading about this man and enjoying his poetry, much of it in the Geordie Dialect, I have a feeling that he wouldn't have cared about appearances, regal or otherwise. On the title page in his book of poems, is a picture of the seal of the city of Gateshead, (an identical image is in the British Museum) showing a castle with three doors.  As the Newcastle arms shows three castles with one door, maybe a mix-up in the initial order to Parker, Field & Sons, was to blame. 



    Maybe we'll just never know. If there's a resource that I might try to take advantage of, please let me know. 

   There is another alternative, but it's a long shot. During the Big-Band era of the 1930s, Benny Goodman aka "The King of Swing" had a terrific piano player named Teddy Wilson. You don't suppose….


  Cheers, Mike. 








































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