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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.

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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.

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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.

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Edited by Mike McLellan

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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.

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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.

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Edited by Mike McLellan

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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. 

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Edited by Mike McLellan

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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).

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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

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#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.

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

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Edited by G Hanson

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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. 

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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. 

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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

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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

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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.

 

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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. 
    
 

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