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    I hear, over and over, the phrase, "If this thing could talk, what a story it could tell". That's true of just about anything that we collectors stumble across, and old police truncheons, especially, seem to be bursting with history and personality all their own. Sadly, often times, their reticence can be broken only with pain-staking research, questionable provenance, and the collective knowledge of those who came before us, and are willing to share their ideas and opinions with us. The common caveat that runs through all of this gathering of knowledge is the understanding that all, or most, of the information gleaned can be totally incorrect. Luckily, we have researchers like Fenn Clark, Mitton, Cooke, and others who have done a tremendous amount of research that enables us to make fairly accurate assessments of the old painted truncheons that come our way.

   A case in point is this truncheon that I recently picked up (on the cheap). I'll tell you what I think about it, and why. As shown, It shows the City of London arms, the letters CS at the top, a W underneath, and a P over the numeral 1.

   First, the COL emblem (with barely visible Wat Tyler's dagger) is situated within a fiddle-shaped cartouche rather than the usual COA pattern, or the oval associated with the SC or the Chartist Riot issued sticks. The absence of a crown or monogram suggests a purely municipal authority. The maker's stamp on the butt, PARKER over HOLBORN (1796-1841), suggests that it probably predates the establishment of the City of London Police (1839). That, in turn, reinforces the likelihood that this truncheon was used by a "Watch" acting under some civic authority.

   If we assume (never a wise move!) that the W denotes Ward authority, it's not a far stretch to conclude that CS might identify the ward as the Coleman Street Ward. I don'r believe that the P stands for police, patrol, or portreeve, but is used to more specifically identify the area of authority, such as parish or precinct, of which Coleman Street Ward had six. The number 1, I think, reinforces the location as the 1st Precinct, rather than identify some exalted person as "Numero Uno".

  Ergo, my dear Watson, I must conclude, with all the confidence of a lonely old man growing delirious out on the frozen tundra, that I have accurately identified this little piece of history. On the other hand, as stated above, my conclusions may well be crap. Your opinions, as always, are welcome. Mike.

  

   

 

 

 

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Hi Mike

I know nothing about truncheons, my field of expertise lies with photographic images of railway, dock and canal police. However I take my hat off to you for your analytical process and your conclusion seems perfectly sensible to me!

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  • 5 weeks later...

I  posted this thread to lure Mervyn out his lair, knowing he would not be able to resist the temptation to weigh in, and either agree with me, or, in a sentence or two, prove me wrong. I was aware of his frailty, but I really wanted to engage him...just one more time.

Our conclusions were not always in sync, but the dialogue was invigorating and informative. I really, really miss that old fart. Mike.

 

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Mike, sad news about Mervyn.

I was interested to see your City truncheon. Like you I have often pondered the letters on truncheons and sadly in many cases never can find a plausible answer. I think you are on the right track with the W mending ward and following that line Coleman Street Ward does not seem improbable.

I think the P is more difficult and doubt we will ever know for certain. If I was forced to make a comment I think go for the obvious such as Police. I don't think it would be Portreeve and Precinct is too American.

If anyone is thinking about collecting truncheons I would recommend they take attributions with a large pinch of salt. Over nearly 30 year of collecting I have seen many wild guesses put forward as definitive answers. This has come from both dealers and collectors alike. I think this also applies to reference works such as Fenn Clark, which rarely ever contain reference notes, or make use of phrases such as 'may - could - possibly'. 

At one of the first auctions I ever went to I saw a Parker truncheon with the letters 'HMRT' in a cartouche. A short time later it had a very inflated price and was being sold as 'Her Majesty's Royal Train'. I had the chance to speak to the dealer at the time who even lied as to how he came by the item, which was shameless.

With regard to numbers the only comments I normally offer are:

1) It is probably a stock or armoury number rather than a collar/warrant number.

2) If the number is high it probably, but not always, relates to the Special Constabulary. 

Ultimately what we do know is you have a good City truncheon, so well done.

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Thanks for the comments, Polsa and Alan. My first guess, when I saw the CS W at the top, was that this must be one of Charlie Watts' drumsticks that was lost or discarded at a very early Rolling Stones concert. Could be worth a fortune someday.

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