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     In his description of the shown rattle, the seller, from England, wasn't sure of its origin or what to call it. He wrote that it was quite load and perhaps it was used as a fire or police alarm or used to scare birds away. In fact, on the customs declaration, he wrote, "Bird Scarer".  It is very similar to the watchman's rattle shown in Mervyn Mitton's extraordinary book in several ways. An examination of it suggests, by the patina, tool marks. and fastening devices, that it is quite old. There is a hole in the body that approximates the location of the turning knob in Mervyn's book. I would like to believe that it is. in fact, an early rattle with a policing connection, and I'm leaning that way. It's pictured along side a Parker, Field ( 59 Leman St E) rattle in my small collection for comparison. 

   My question to the experts of this fine forum; Would I be justified in believing that this rattle is the "real deal", or should I face reality and take it outside and scare some birds way? Thanks for any comments, Mike.

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Mike - you have two genuine and original rattles.  The larger one - that would have had a turning knob, was carried from 1661 and was part of the original equipment for King Charles 2nd's reformed Night Watch.  They did of course, have their origins in being bird scarers.   They were in use until the 1870"s

The smaller version is early Police  -  carried in the tail coat pocket of the frock coat - worn after 1829.   Although this one is probably County and post 1838.  Please let me know what the carved initials are .  The inset lead weights show it's origins.  Early police preferred to hit prisoners with the weighted end - and  when the were withdrawn in the 1880's for whistles there was a lot of arguement.       Mervyn 

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Thank's for your input, Mervyn! As always, your encyclopedic knowledge is astonishing. You asked for the stampings on the smaller rattle. Someone with a very heavy hand has stamped R 296 on the body. On the reverse side is the makers name and address and the word 'police'. Also, on the collapsible handle and above the R 296 we have the ubiquitous WD broad arrow. Under magnification, it appears that the crows-foot was stamped over the R, making it likely, I suppose, that the War Department snatched it up when it was surplussed out by the police agency. 

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Mike - there has to be a possibility that this is one of the very early pattern - where the handle folded flat.   In the 1st WW the Police themselves used these rattles to warn of Zeppelin and gas attacks.    The army used them for the same purpose in the trenches and I expect this was requisitioned and overstamped with the Broad Arrow of the Board of Ordinance.

Both are rare pieces and amazing to find them in Alaska.   I watch a TV series each week on building log huts in Alaska.  However, unless I'm guaranteed gold in my garden I shall stay in the warm.   Mervyn

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  • 4 weeks later...

By way of comparison, here is one from the Irish police:

The earliest known form of communication between constables was the police 'rattle', carried in the tail of the coat and used to summon help. It was effective to about 500 yards and was in use from the 1840's until around 1880; individual forces replacing the rattle with the whistle from about 1860 onwards. This example was issued to the Irish police and bears the crest of the Constabulary of Ireland, together with 'KILm XI', perhaps a reference to a parish watch.
 
It is a rare and possibly unique reminder of the earliest years of the Irish constabulary.
 
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The force crest of the Constabulary of Ireland -
 
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Marked 'Kilm XI' - 
 
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Edited by Peter Mc
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That is a real beauty. I'm a little puzzled by the absence of the harp on the badge. What are those feather or leaf-like things? (Prince of Wales feathers?). I can't find anything in the Taylor / Wilkinson book that resembles it. At any rate, that's a beautiful piece. Mike. 

Edited by Mike McLellan
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Those 'feather or leaf-like things' are in fact a shamrock; the original device used by the Constabulary of Ireland before it adopted the harp as its crest.
 

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Edited by Peter Mc
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Peter Mc . has shown two early and important Royal Irish const. items.    The rattle may well have been carved by the constable   -   Peter, have you seen other examples.?

The metal and enamel painted metal badge   is in fact a Police Station sign to show the public.Mervyn

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  • 2 months later...

Mike, I'm sure you have researched this, but when dating the rattles in your post no one seems to have mentioned the makes name 'FIELD 59 LEMAN ST', which is shown on the smaller example (I think). The stamp is for the firm Parker Field & Sons, who were formed in 1841. The address stamped on this piece dates it between 1877 and 1879. The 'R 926' stamp al; most certainly means it was a Met Police issue. What I particular like is that rather than being early, it is in fact a late example just before the introduction of whistles. A great item. Alan   

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  • 1 year later...

It's disappointing to note that the photos of PeterMc's pre-harp RIC rattle have disappeared. His is probably the coolest policeman's rattle in existence! I hope he can re-post his photos as everybody needs to see this rattle!  It's a real beauty. Better yet, he should sell it to me and I'll post the photos. :rolleyes:

Anyway, I have a new rattle that I'd like to show you. It's a Parker, Field item, and I'm sure it was delivered to the Metropolitan Police in 1883. The firm, Parker Field moved from their shop at 233 Holborn in 1877, and moved again from Lehman St. in 1883 to Tavistock Street. Alan Cook reminds us in his book on truncheons, that the Defense Ministry Ordnance Board inspected the Metropolitan Police equipment in 1884, leaving their broad-arrow WD mark as proof. We also know, with some certainty, that in February of 1884, the Metropolitan Police received their first consignment of 21,000 General Purpose Whistles. With the introduction of the police whistle, the rattles, which served policemen, constables, and the watchmen from the seventeenth century, were deemed obsolete, Although reincarnated in 1939 as an all-clear signal as needed by the ARP and again later to supplement the din at football games, the rattle became an historical curiosity. 

This rattle, despite being 133 years old, is in brand, spanking new condition. 

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Edited by Mike McLellan
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Cheers Mike! I got alerted to this via an email notification.  The images are missing due to Photobuckets change in policy on third party image hosting, which has affected millions of users worldwide - and some 2500 broken image links in my case.

There is a fix I can apply (or repost the photos) but I need to be able to edit my own posts on this site, and that functionality (editing) seems to become locked after a period of time. Perhaps an admin can unlock it for me.

Nice rattle you just recently posted. I don't know if you ever give these a 'twirl' to hear the sound - I'm reluctant to do it on mine as the wood is so aged now - although I did slowly rotate it once.

P.S. I've applied the 'fix' to my own site so you can view the same images here:
http://irishconstabulary.com/topic/1364#.WYrFEq2ZOMI

Edited by Peter Mc
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23 hours ago, Mike McLellan said:

...Alan Cook reminds us in his book on truncheons, that the Defense Ministry Ordnance Board inspected the Metropolitan Police equipment in 1884, leaving their broad-arrow WD mark as proof...

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That's a very useful post, and builds nicely upon something I was saying in another thread some while ago where certain forum members seemed to think the marking was that of the Woolwich Dockyard instead of correctly being the War Department!

http://gmic.co.uk/topic/60591-the-start-of-my-collection/?tab=comments#comment-568905

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  • 1 month later...

    As long as we're still riveted to the exciting world of old police rattles, allow me to show you another from my collection. There is no maker's mark on it, but it appears quite similar to the Parker Field rattles. It predates the folding handle and is about a half-inch shorter. There is no crow's foot stamp, but if you squint your eyes just right, and with optimal lighting, you can make out an "S", a "0", and maybe an "E", "F", or perhaps an "X". Under these is the number 9 (maybe). The lead inserts, I think, indicate police use, but I suppose that that's just a wildly baseless assumption on my part.

    I don't know why I'm drawn to these old rattles. Maybe their absence of technology is a refreshing respite from a world that pretty much leaves me in the dust. At any rate, I really do like these old things! Cheers, Mike.

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  • 3 years later...

I just added an example to the little pile of rattles shown. It's a Parker Field rattle from 1870s. What's nice about this thing is that a portion of the manufacturer's label is intact. It seems to contain detailed instructions for its use.  

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Mike, I can't say rattles have been the top of my wants list, but if I was going to buy one then for me this would be it. The Field stamp with address, plus the label make this really interesting. One wonders what the full instructions were as I had never thought of it as a difficult piece of equipment to operate. I do have some - sadly packed away as I found them difficult to display - I think are worth getting out for a reappraisal. 

Here is my first offering on the subject. This example has wonderful patination is very tactile. It is stamped on the front 'PARKER HOLBORN' in a circle similar manner to the way they stamped truncheons. When dating truncheons this stamp would be attributed to William Parker and be pre- 1841. 

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This example is stamped 'PARKER 233 HOLBORN'. Truncheons marked as such were produced by Parker Field & Sons. They continued to operate from the Holborn address until 1877.

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This example has the WD and arrow stamp which has been overstamped with 'S / 272'. I presume the divisional letter 'S' means this was probably used by the Met Police. I am aware the Met Police often sent equipment to the Board of Ordnance for quality assurance purposes who would have applied the WD mark. The reverse is stamped with the makers name 'G & W Almond'. 

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Not much to say about this one other than it came to me from a great police collector Fred Wilkinson. 

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