Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Posted (edited)

After seemingly endless minutes of research, complimented by hour upon hour of day-dreaming, I have to admit, I still don’t have all the answers. 

I’m trying to find a photo, drawing, or other accurate description of the earliest truncheons issued by the Metropolitan Police. In his book on truncheons, Alan Clark suggests that the earliest ones were not painted or otherwise adorned. This makes sense to me “due to the volume required” and the timely manner in which they were needed. In another splendid book, “The Policeman’s Lot”, our good friend Mervyn Mitton cites a curious description found in an even earlier book on the subject. He writes that the earliest truncheon had finger grips, an acorn-shaped finial, and was adorned with a VR, although he adds that he has never seen one himself. This description cannot be correct. The Metropolitan Police predates Queen Victoria by a full 7 years.  

When the first coppers hit the streets on September 29, 1829, George IV was still the king, although his health was fragile, and his prognosis quite bleak. It might have seemed more discreet at the time to leave the sticks blank and make the next batch a little more decorative. Within 9 months, the king was dead.

William IV reigned for the next six years, and although there are numerous examples of truncheons with his Royal Cypher displayed, none are attributable to the Metropolitan Police. What happened? They can’t have all been tossed into the fire. Out of many thousands of sticks, surely a few of them still exist. Unless, of course, they were not painted and therefore not recognizable for what they really are. 

Any ideas? Does anybody have even a photo? Seriously, any opinions would be most welcome. 

Mike. 

Edited by Mike McLellan
Brain freeze on dates.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nothing in Erland Fenn Clark's book. although he has a bit at the back with an overly large image of about a hundred undecorated truncheons.  The individual ones are too small to make out any details, though.

Clark has a couple of Victorian Met decorated pictures, though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

 

Thanks, Nightbreak. The trouble with history, is that there's so damned much of it! Plus, the sources of reliable information seem to be getting more scant as time goes on. Beside the three books mentioned, there's not much information readily available. We have to glean what we can and hope that we're not too far off the mark. 

I have, what I believe to be, one of the earliest of the Metropolitan Police truncheons. When I first got it (about 30 years ago) I thought it was one of the newer ones from the turn of the last century. However, since then, because of its size, heft, and shape, I've become convinced that it's from a much earlier time. 

According to Alan's book, when the newly formed police force ordered the first batch of sticks, it placed an order for a thousand truncheons 'ASAP' and another 1,000 two months later. I can't imagine some Dickensian character hidden away in a dimly lit corner of the Parker Field shop, with his supply of tiny paint brushes undertaking such a daunting task with painting, drying, painting some more, waiting, and correcting mistakes, all under the burden that ASAP demands. Instead, they stamped each one with an MP topped with an indented crown. a practice they repeated many years later when the painting of truncheons came to an end.

This one is the same as the three that Alan has pictured in his book (p.34), and are quite a bit thicker than the subsequent generation of truncheons, being almost 1.72" in diameter. Too thick, I think, to fit into the leather holster pictured, which also is from a later period.

I don't have a copy of the Fenn Clark book. I don't really collect truncheons, so I never felt the need to invest that kind of money in a reference book. My main interest is Met or COL insignia and equipment, and truncheons are a part of the mix. Thanks again for replying, Mike.

IMG_2189.JPG

IMG_2186.JPG

IMG_2187.JPG

Edited by Mike McLellan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While we're waiting for our brethren to post their pictures of WivR Met truncheons, I have a couple more I'd like to show that are, at least, representative of what one might expect in a truncheon from that early reign (1830-1837).

A truncheon from the reign of William IV should either have a monogram of WivR or the proper coat of arms, which is the same one used all through Victoria's reign up until the present time, except for the addition of the Hanover Inescutcheon superimposed upon it. I don't have a stick with that combined coat of arms, and I'm unable to post one off the internet, but there are numerous examples in the books of Fenn Clark, Mitton, And Cook. 

The two sticks shown can be identified as Victorian by the coat of arms, which does not include the Hanover Arms. They can also be identified as early by the maker's mark, which appears on the butt end as, Parker 233 Holborn. This mark changed in 1842 to Field 233 Holborn, thus making the examples probably pre 1842. Both of these, presumably, are for sergeants or above. Constable would likely be given truncheons with only the Royal Cypher rather than a coat of arms, which cost more. 

Again, if anyone has a similar truncheon, either with a WivR monogram or a coat of arms showing the Hanover connection, please post a picture. Did I say, "Please"? Okay. Pretty please.

Mike.

IMG_2191.JPG

IMG_2192 (1).JPG

IMG_2194.JPG

IMG_2193.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

A couple more... 

In another thread in this forum (Apr. 27, 2015), Mervyn Mitton identified a truncheon like the ones pictured below as 'thje first pattern for Victoria". He also added that nobody is really sure what the WivR truncheons looked like. Hence my plea for information. 

Note: On the truncheon on the right, most of the gold leaf has been rubbed or worn off, This gives one some idea just how many steps it took to create one of these beauties. Multiply that by several thousand!

By the way, both of these show a maker's mark on the butt end of, "Field 233 Holborn", which indicates that they were made after 1842.

IMG_2196.JPG

IMG_2198.JPG

Edited by Mike McLellan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

I'm just about through.

I'm not sure when 'MP' started to appear in the red cartouche. It was probably in the 1860s, but that's just a guess. It seems that the firm, Parker, Field, & Son was having a difficult time in holding onto the lion's share of the rapidly growing market of police related equipment. Alan Cook mentions some active competition in his book, and by the end of the century, they pretty much ceased to exist. 

Alan also writes that in 1887, instructions were given to cut down the existing truncheons from 17.5 inches long to 15.5 inches. The truncheon in the center is one of those shortened. The tool marks clearly show that the truncheon was chucked into the lathe and 2 inches was pared off of the crown end with a sharp chisel, rather unceremoniously. The short truncheon on the right was intended for Inspectors, and shows a maker's mark of "Field 223 Holborn" making it from prior to 1872. 

With the introduction of Identification Warrant Cards, coupled with the fact that the uniformed police were, by now, an easily recognizable part of the English landscape, painted truncheons were seen as no longer necessary and, by the turn of the century, faded from existence. 

IMG_2199.JPG

IMG_2200.JPG

IMG_2201.JPG

Edited by Mike McLellan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mike,

I completely agree with your 2nd post regarding the early stamped MP truncheons.

It has been my own belief that the stamp - MP below crown - was the early stamp whilst the stamp - MP with crown in between the M & P - was the post 1887 version.

Like you I am not a truncheon collector per se, but I wanted both an Metropolitan Police & City of London Police example from the period 1888.

Below is my small collection which includes the early MP truncheon (#1) 2 interesting H Division marked examples (#2 & #3), a CoL (#4) and a nice Victorian period Detectives piece (#5).

Inked1.Trunch1_LI.jpg.199ec7f221de97a9060419a531a3c387.jpg

 

Early version with MP stamp.940085045_3.EarlyMP2.JPG.44b5c43ec7eedca301871cc84edf6d88.JPG

Double stamped; top & bottom.2030246340_2.EarlyMP1.jpg.4af3bfe1d3d5ce16068b2b50164e216d.jpg

Edited by G Hanson

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

#2 - Early 'H' Division truncheon.

"Parker 233 Holborn" stamp on pommel clearly identifies this piece as an earlier pre 1877 painted example.  However, this has been altered post 1887, being shortened and paint removed.  Shows remnants of the black paint and the red MP cartouche.

Stamps are; Parker 233 Holborn, H305, K149 and the 1884 Defence Ministry Ordnance Board inspection of Met Police equipment stamp of arrow and WD.

429632982_4.Pre87H305a.jpg.d5b87223ac35c0843208c3a68737c8ce.jpg

35997306_5.Pre87H305b.jpg.53628ece0340cda047e91b8d18a8b926.jpg 668643106_6.Pre87H305c.jpg.023f3106635697e4b5497549eb02dc1b.jpg

835341350_7.Pre87H305e.jpg.bacfd0c87cefef50673dd063a9c1d815.jpg

1360413609_8.Pre87H305d.jpg.d7e1ccbaadf50b88f14ad465073f8228.jpg

Edited by G Hanson

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Whoa G! That H stamped truncheon is a real beauty! The absence of paint doesn’t affect it one bit, as far as I’m concerned. It’s not surprising that a painted stick would lack the MP/Crown stamps. Both of them are great sticks.  But that lower one with H 305  & K 149 is my favorite. Thanks for showing them. Wonderful historical artifacts. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No problem Mike, glad to share.

Truncheon #3 also displays a nice 'H' Division stamp as well as a couple of stamps to connecting Divisions 'G' & 'K'.

Also of interest is a stamp which I initially thought was another 1884 Ordnance inspection stamp however, this stamp clearly shows the letter 'P' stamped beneath the 'WD'.

My thought was that this stood for 'War Department Police' but this is clearly not the case as the correct title would have been 'War Department Constabulary', so I don't actually know what this stamp is?

Stamps on the truncheon are; 215H, 64K, G469 and the strange ordnance stamp.

826217126_10.Postt87H215c.jpg.da4d14c564e01dbd4d09b3d1072497a3.jpg

510386072_11.Postt87H215d.jpg.0034d427e15a7373a4dcf3cd3392bdb7.jpg

325529673_12.Post87H215e.jpg.04b0fc0b9003f5d2e5f79662aa0ebae1.jpg

IMG_8310.JPG.45c960428eebbeae82161356eaf27e8f.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice. So, without the MP (or CP) stamp, do you think that this is another once-painted stick? Pretty clean if it is. Very cool truncheon either way. 

Mike. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No Mike, I don't think this was a painted example.

Most dealers/collectors refer to this style truncheon as being early 20th century but I personally believe these to be earlier and from at least 1887.

We know that there was a radical change to the truncheon regs in 1887 which stipulated the change in length and the retirement of the leather carrying tube.

In the police/military things dont suddenly change overnight and there is a rather lengthy process from idea to sign off to implementation. 

The process regarding the implementation of whistles shows this to good effect as the police orders from Feb 1885 state the future intention to issue all officers with whistles.  The order from May 1887 now details the use of said whistles and also cancels the Feb '85 order.  So, it appears they gave themselves a 2 year window with which to ensure they had enough stock prior to roll out.

Another important point is the 1885 order suggested keeping a reserve stock of rattles behind for nightwatch officers as a contingency until full issue of whistles was achieved.

I personally believe the same happened with regards to the truncheon.  Yes, some officers must have kept their old stock and shortened these as per orders but what about those new officers joining? 

Granted, just like the reserve supply of old rattles there was probably a small supply of old stock but I find it hard to believe that all newly appointed officers in 1887 were issued with shortened and stripped old stock, but would rather have been issued a newer shortened model which is why i think this style should be dated before early 20th century.

As for lack of MP marking?  Oversight or expediency who knows?  However, this is most definitely a Met issued piece.

I think the key to solving this particular puzzle is in the officers number.  If we can determine the entry dates for officers 215H, 64K and 469G, then we could have some tangible dates to work with.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All good points, G. A lot of information can be gleaned from the early police orders, if one has the patience to search through them. My experience has been that they provide a somewhat skewed ratio of answers to questions. That’s the nature of research, though. You seem to have a good handle on them. Nice job. 

Mike. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

There is currently a truncheon being offered by Clarke’s Auctions at Semley that is relevant to my original question about early Met sticks. It is painted black with POHG in gilt with MP crown in at least 3 locations. I feel safe in presuming that this was a truncheon from Hatton Garden Public Office that was inherited by the Met when they absorbed the public offices upon their inception. An identical stick is in Alan Clark’s book. A rare truncheon indeed, if authentic. 

My high bid was instantly outbid by another. I hope that whoever gets it posts some good pictures. I asked the auction house if the firm of Parker of Holborn is indicated on the butt end, but have not heard anything as yet. 

I’m no longer a participant in this feeding frenzy, but I wish you the best of luck if you are. 

Edited by Mike McLellan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yikes! In my last post, I cited information contained in Alan Cook’s book on truncheons, and referred to him as Alan Clark. My apologies to Mr. Cook. 

Mike

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Greetings fellow members and collectors. I firstly apologise for joining this thread somewhat late, as I have always used this site as an occasional means of interest and education, watching from the wings so to speak and now breaking cover as seems appropriate, in response to what is the most enjoyable and informative thread!.

Amongst my humble collection (pic1), and first of the early Met truncheons, incidentally purchased about 30 years ago!, is a plain mid wood shade example, 17" in length, 5 1/2" circumference at the top, double stamped and identical to Mike's example above, with a name written neatly on it's side in black faded paint, possibly 'Sawteel' (see what you think!?) and retaining it's original price tag of £20! and dated 1880/90 by the dealer.

My reason for showing that example is really as a means to allow comparison with my second and more interesting piece (pic2). Whilst the dimensions are similar, they are certainly not exact, 17 1/2 in length and 4 3/4" circumference at top, but what you may expect from simply made pieces that we agree were made on mass and 'on the hurry up'. Again it is double stamped MP with crown above and in the very same distance as the first example. My main point for bringing this to your attention is the addition of the painted ' VR', Crown and date of what best looks like 1868 (i feel the 6 being more likely than a 8, but feasible this too could be an 1888 example! and stand to be corrected!, with time, knocks and scratches)..

Lastly, at least with my posted pics on this entry, is my Met Inspector's example, similar again to Mike's example, in reasonable condition but with paint wear from what could have been from continued rubbing against a leather pouch?... did Inspectors get issued a smaller leather canister type pouch at this time?. My example is stamped on the rear just above the grip with a 'B' over the number 33. My guess B district/division, so Kensington - Chelsea (as it roughly still is, and having served there) with the number being an issue number, as far as I know, Inspectors were not assigned a collar or shoulder number as it is now referred to?.

Other pics to follow on due to data issues.

Hope the above has added to the mix, and nice to be part of it with kindred Brethren!.

Will post more on the topic of the P.O.H.G. truncheon in the next few days!

Bob.

 

PIC1.JPG

PIC2.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

allow on pic, bare with me more coming!

PIC6.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Last three to give a general idea!

P1010279.JPG

P1010280.JPG

P1010281.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello Bob. You’ve given us lots to think about! There are some experts on truncheons around here, but sadly, I’m not one of them. I am, however, an avid student with a voracious appetite for information on Metropolitan Police historical insignia and equipment. I can only guess at the mysteries that your sticks present. The lighting in the first photo makes the printing difficult to read. Along with your ideas, I would be tempted to add “Schin—-“ to the possibilities. A lot of research possibilities to explore. 
   That other truncheon is also fascinating. I wonder if somebody dug that thing out of retirement to serve with the Fenian unpleasantness in 1868. There seems to be a lot of truncheons in existence that commemorate that particular date. A wonderful historical artifact either way. 
    You’ve dropped a hint that the POHG truncheon is coming your way. If so, congratulations! Another great piece of history. Be sure to post pictures as well as your ideas about these pieces. 
Thanks for joining in, and keep us posted. 
 

Mike. 
    
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you Mike, and yes, you guessed correctly that I was the lucky bid winner of the P.O.H.G. truncheon, that incidentally I had been watching since it's first listing, but it was the above thread that further piqued my interest and spurred me on to purchase!.

I have attached a few pics as per your request, albeit lighting conditions here in London are atrocious today, so if you or any other members for that matter require more I will endeavour to oblige. You will see the passage of time and normal Police work of smashing windows and knocking on doors, have taken their toll on this stick, but it still retains a good amount of its original condition and detail (note the number 55 on the reverse just above the handle!) to sit happily in any collection ( a very light clean and polish always does the trick, and you will for instance see the difference in respect of how the handle butt looks in comparison with the auction house listing's, and hopefully answers one of your questions Mike!?).

Alan Cook, as you mention does have an example in his most excellent book (which I quite frankly view as a Bible on the topic!) and he also gives details of this public office and shows another style of such!

A similar example as mentioned, also appears in E.R.H. Dicken's book of 1952 (The History of Truncheons).

Interestingly Dicken asserts that these were in fact produced by Hiatt of Birmingham and distributed by Parker who stamped their mark on to the butt end!, for my part I have just lined up ten parker sticks alongside it on the dining table to look for clues!, all I can say is, there appears to be a very faint difference in the handle shape that would have been directly under where the leather strap would have affixed, but this is tenuous and really needs the interjection of 'Expert' opinion!.

Dicken also mentions a similar P.O.H.G. example on display (at that time) at the Horniman museum, Forest Hill, S.E. London. It doesn't show at this time on their website, although a number of interesting truncheons do. I phoned them this afternoon and I am now going through the correct channels to ascertain if they have it in storage to view and then photograph!.. watch this space, but don't hold your breath!.

 

POHG 1.JPG

POHG 2.JPG

POHG 3.JPG

POHG 4.JPG

POHG 5.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That is a really nice stick, Bob. I’m jealous. More and more, I find my interest drawn to the era of policing prior to the establishment of the organized forces, especially the Public Office period. Artifacts from that time are among the scarcest of the scarce, and your truncheon is an important and valuable representative. Very, very cool! The number 55 provides food for thought as well. How many truncheons were on hand at the time, and how many men could be mustered for any given event. There had to have been some kind of organization, as well as some semblance of a rank structure. Alan Cook has a new book that, I think, covers that period, but I have not yet been able to get a copy and read it. 
Thanks for posting the photos, and congratulations on a fine acquisition. 
Mike. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As ever with best intentions, I don't seem to log into the GMIC as often as I should. Having read the latest additions to this thread I thought I would add a comment regarding Hatton Garden truncheons. 

This example is a rare survivor. The example I show in my book - numbered '3' - came into my possession in 1991 and since then I have only ever seen 3 or 4 others (including the recent discovery). There was a fine example in Fred Wilkinson's book 'Those Entrusted with Arms' numbered 65. Fred was a great collector of London Public Office pieces and I have been very lucky to now own many pieces which were once in his collection, including the POHG truncheon. 

The example illustrated in Dicken's book was sold at Bonhams in 2011 (see page 28 of my book). It was sold along with all the other Public Office truncheons shown in Dicken. Again, I was lucky enough to buy the other examples, but could not justify the POHG, which sold for a very good price. 

Along with the recent example I believe there may have been one other sold at auction, but I am hazy on the facts. The common feature of each example is that they were all stamped with the crown MP mark. Dicken suggests this was added when the Met took over the Public Offices and was used to show transfer of ownership. This sounds plausible and it does seem likely that the stamp was added early on in the Met timeline and is therefore an early mark. The mark can also be seen on other different styles of Hatton Garden truncheon. 

In my researches I have now seen a few William Parker invoices for truncheons and the type with the mellow yellow handles as seen in the Hatton Garden truncheons are always listed as being made of lance wood. My view would be that these Parker examples for Hatton Garden were produced right at the end of time of the Office. They are also notable as being the only Public Office truncheons produced by Parker. 

On this point, you do sometimes see Parker Field tipstaves purporting to be engraved with details of Public Offices, however, the dates of the tipstaves (post 1841) makes them too late to be genuine. 

In relation to the numbers, here is a thought; if my assertions are correct and these POHG truncheons by Parker date to just before the era of the Met it is possible they may have been produced for use by special constables. 

I have recently been researching the history of special constables within Essex. While the concept of specials had been around for many years it was not until 1830 (in Essex) they were used in any meaningful way. Due to the threat of the Swing Riots, which were spreading across the county in the last couple of months of 1830 Essex enrolled several thousand specials. 

These specials required staves (they tended not to use the term truncheon very often) and there are bills in the Essex Record Office from suppliers all over the county for the supply of staves. Combined these add up to over 4,000!!! One supplier in the Braintree area was commissioned to produce 1,000 (see image).

Parker did produce some of the truncheons required in Essex at this time for Epping and Nazing. Further research may shed further light on the POHG truncheons; from my recent studies it is amazing what information is still out there waiting to be discovered. 

Before I sign off I thought I would add a comment re my latest book. 'Policing from Bow Street' is a joint effort with a friend of mine, Peter Kennison. It covers the history of Bow Street from its earliest days up to the time it was taken over by the Met. There are lists of officers who formed some of the patroles and there is a section on equipment, which does include truncheons. The book is still available and is currently being reprinted. Should anyone have a problem getting a copy please do not hesitate to contact me direct. 

 

 

17 - Bill 1000 Truncheons.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great information there Alan, thank you.

Further to my above on the P.O.H.G. stick, I was fortunate enough to acquire a William 1V Parker stick last week that is absolutely identical in every dimension to the former (bar a 2mm longer band at pommel end over which leather strap would have sat! and obvious difference in shade of handle as referred to previously).Comparrison.JPG.316aa681b73f703edb8fb142e757cda3.JPG This will no doubt help correlate approx date etc.

I have attached a pic just for interest.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My main reason for logging in today really is to bring the following piece to the thread, that I also acquired last week. It seems to sit well with the topic and is very similar to G's example (that He lists as 1 of 5).

It is made of Oak and measures 17 1/4" in length with a circumference of 4 3/4" at the thick end!.

Double stamped MP with crown above in the usual manner and bearing some scratched initials that seem to be M H I or M I I I. This of course could have related to an officer or even been the result of a child's vandalism!.

Either way an interesting piece, that happened to be encrusted with grime when purchased for what was a very good price!.

Early Met 1.JPG

Early Met 2.JPG

Early Met 3.JPG

Early Met 4.JPG

P1010301.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 Very nice additions to your collection, Bob. The oak truncheon is fascinating. I would expect early Met stocks to be stamped by the maker, Parker @ Holborn. This one is clearly not from that firm. Yet, the MP Crown stamp is proof positive that it spent part of its life with the Metropolitan Police regardless of its initial origin. Even the scratched initials give it added character. Both of them are great sticks. The WR IV one really tugs at the limits of our imaginations, especially as it does have the Parker stamp. 
Really, really nice group that you’ve put together. I think a family photo might be in order. 
 

Thanks Alan, for dropping by. Always a source of quality information. I think some photos of your collection would add much to our learning. 
 

Cheers, Mike. 
 

Bob, As an afterthought, I took another look at G’s oak truncheon. It’s quite similar to your stick. Maybe, if he reads this, he can post a view of the butt end of his truncheons, we could make a better comparison. 

Edited by Mike McLellan
Afterthought

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...