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Post your favorite tipstaff or truncheon (for fun and in memory of Mervyn!)


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Gentleman, 

It has been a while since we posted or discussed truncheons or tipstaves, and since this particular forum is in honor of Mervyn (whose first love was truncheons and tipstaves) I thought it would be fun for all of us to post a picture of our favorite(s) along with a bit of chat about them!  It doesn't have to be an item out of your collection necessarily (although that would be nice), but just an item that is a truncheon or a tipstaff.  I'll start us off!  

I'm including a couple of photos of a tipstaff that was inherited by a fellow who subsequently posted a question about it on a silver hallmark forum nearly ten years ago.  The Owner had inherited the tipstaff from his mother and said it had been in his family for 50 years.  Views at the time were that the tipstaff was hallmarked for Chester, 1814, a Liverpudlian silversmith a "Nicholson Lee"... 

The tipstaff itself is apparently later inscribed (I say "apparently" because no photo was posted of the inscription):

Jas Mangnall Esq Boroughreeve
Wm Haslam Robt Knowles Constables
1836

Reportedly, the tipstaff was also featured in a catalogue for Sotheby's Exhibition at The Grosvenor Museum in Chester in July / August 1984.  The owner also reported a receipt from Sotheby's inside the catalogue dated March 1984 and the description is "Tipstaff by Nicholas Lee of Manchester 1836"..

Subsequently, one of the forum participants found the following article in The Blackburn Standard 19th October 1836: 

"Little Bolton Court Leet - On Friday at the Court of Leet of Thomas Tipping Esq, Lord of the Manor of Little Bolton, held at the Town Hall, in Little Bolton, the following officers were elected for the ensuing year: James Magnall, Esq boroughreeve, Robert Knowles and William Haslam (Park Hill Place) Esqrs, constables."

I always thought this was a neat tipstaff and I wished it had been in my collection.  For me it's one of the ones that "got away" (not that I ever had a shot at purchasing it!)...

 

tip1.jpg

Tip2.jpg

Edited by CollectorInTheUSA
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This is one I owned for about 12 hours.  I bought this Admiralty Oar off E-bay, only to wake up the next morning and found my money refunded by the seller.  They claimed they had accidentally left off a number and thus I'd only paid a third of what they truly wanted for it.  I wasn't ready to just hand over a bunch more money on their say-so, and our deal fell apart.

Both Mervyn's and Alan's books say if you ever come across an Admiralty Oar, grab it.  Even though it's outside my theme, this would have been a prize.

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Reading this post brought back a lot of memories of days past and friends gone. Mervyn was a very close friend of mine and I thought I would share a tip staff with you that he gifted me from his personal collection. This particular tip staff appears in Mervyn's book, "The Policeman's Lot". page 67.

Regards

Brian

 

 

tip staff.JPG

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It could very well be the same staff as all of Mervyn's collection went to auction, especially the material that was still in England; he lived in South Africa at the time of his death.

A great looking item indeed, thanks for posting it.

Regards

Brian

 

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On 16/02/2020 at 11:15, Brian Wolfe said:

Reading this post brought back a lot of memories of days past and friends gone. Mervyn was a very close friend of mine and I thought I would share a tip staff with you that he gifted me from his personal collection. This particular tip staff appears in Mervyn's book, "The Policeman's Lot". page 67.

Regards

Brian

 

 

tip staff.JPG

Thanks for posting photos of this nice tipstaff and its very unique wood stand.  Although Mervyn in his book called it a "decorative tipstaff (no provenance)" I believe this form is typically associated with Scottish tipstaffs.  The late John Green illustrated similar ones in his book, "Scottish Insignia".  This type of red cloth material has always been curious to me, and I have seen it in the past.   Did the top of the crown on this one sustain a direct hit?

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I do think it has been dropped at sometime in its life. The identification came directly from Mervyn and that's all I had to go by. For the most part unmarked specimens, such as this one, could be from anywhere and other than what Mervyn told me I would have been left with no "title" for the brass plate at all, perhaps "Typical British Tipstaff"? I've made the stands for these a number of years ago when my thickness planer would not produce material as thin as the one I presently use. It has always seemed a little too "robust" simply to support such a light item. At least there is no danger of the stand breaking. 😄

Regards

Brian

 

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On 16/02/2020 at 07:15, Brian Wolfe said:

tip staff.JPG

       This is a real beauty of a tipstaff (The stand is first rate too). I'm not sure what Mervyn meant when he referred to this as a "decorative" tipstaff. It is certainly a serious piece of identification, not to be confused with a bauble or decorative trinket, and I’m sure that Mervyn did not wish to imply that it was.  For more than 150 years, all of the men who were charged with the enforcement or regulatory functions of all of the disparate laws of the land were identified as such by a tipstaff, as a symbol of office. There were probably thousands of these things in use over that time. Many official positions were held for one year, and many tipstaves were passed on to succeeding officials, while, with other positions, new tipstaves were manufactured exclusively for them. Most of them had little or no markings. Some had the briefest of identifying markings, inventory numbers, or place names on them. Relatively few showed a useful provenance. The components of each tipstaff were basically similar enough to enable the bearer to identify himself, the crown being the unmistakable symbol of absolute.authority.

     I don't see this as a particularly "Scottish" example. My limited expertise suggests that this is an English tipstaff of typical characteristic form, and a very nice one at that. Of course, the stylish characteristics of tipstaves, as well as truncheons, varied greatly within the realm, and identifying a piece by appearance alone is prone to error. 

   While we're at it, I wish "Nightbreak" would have been able to hang on to that Admiralty Oar tipstaff. That's another Beauty. I see some unfortunate damage, possibly from the jaws of a vise, that partially obliterates the Coat of Arms. The fourth quarter is indecipherable to me on my little iPhone. 

   Mike.

 

   

 

Edited by Mike McLellan
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Mervyn wrote his book in the late 1970's and published in the early 1980's and so he may not have been as experienced then, as he was later on in life, which may be why he called Brian's tipstaff "decorative" and didn't add more to that description.

I'm not sure we can ever say there was a "typical" style of tipstaffs, except perhaps the standard issue Parker Field & Sons.  Some aspects though, were typical, such as a crown, or a wooden handle.

I believe Brian's tipstaff is in the Scottish style, which John Green illustrates in his book.   This would be a good thing, as Scottish tipstaffs are rare, with far fewer examples known to exist.  Mervyn liked to say that the global count of surviving tipstaffs was about 1000, which despite some hesitation, I've come to accept may in fact be about accurate.  Maybe only 10% of those are Scottish.  Naturally there were thousands made, but sadly far fewer survived.  

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gmic.co.uk: 3.weblocHi CollectorinTheUSA. Interesting topic. When you began this thread, I was hoping that you would post some photos of a couple of tipstaves from your collection. Almost exactly two years ago, in a thread simply titled "Mervyn", you told a wonderful story of how you acquired two tipstaves directly from Mervyn, with a promise to post photos. We've been waiting and now I must insist! Okay, maybe "beg" is a better term. Can we see those tipstaves. I've added a link to the original post to refresh your memory.  Well, maybe the link won't work. Anyway, your thread is dated 2/28/17.  Cheers.

On 28/02/2017 at 12:32, CollectorInTheUSA said:

Mervyn once sent me photos of a tipstaff he was selling, and I agreed to buy it.  He then emailed me again saying he thinks I should also buy another one he was selling, but I demurred.  But Mervyn persisted, saying he thought I should really, really, really buy the second one as well because it was too good to be left behind.  He said he was so sure about this, that if I didn't like the second tipstaff when I received it, that he would not only take it back, but that he would pay for shipping both ways.  I relented, buying both.  When I received the parcel I was delighted to see that Mervyn was absolutely right, and this second was not only a great tipstaff, but one of the best, ever.  I was delighted he “forced” me to buy it!

 

Here it is! 

Edited by Mike McLellan
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I would truly like my example to be Scottish and would have no hesitation in changing the brass plaque to reflect this information. For me the issue is where this tip staff came from, being Mervyn. If was a gift and in the memory of a close friend I will probably leave it as it is. The problem arises in the possibility the this item will be "moved on" when I "move on" so-to-speak, by my heirs. I would not want to be the one to perpetuate an error in identification. Perhaps I will affix a note on the underneath the stand to reflect this new information.

The topic of the police tip staff has little in the way of research unlike my true passion, British military swords and black powder firearms. I have always needed to depend on limited information in the few books available and other more knowledgeable collectors. It would be difficult to pass off misinformation regarding British military swords to me and I could happily argue such points all day long. At the same time Mervyn was only human ( qui novit omnia) and he could have been mistaken, therefore I could never take a firm stand on the identification of the tip staff I posted.The "gift" was of two tip staffs and I will post photos of these a little later today.

Regards

Brian

 

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This is the second of the pair I received from Mervyn and I was told it was from Whitstable. There is only an inch difference in the length of the two tip staffs but due to the proximity to the cameras the closest specimen appears to be a good deal larger.

 

There is C.W. and 14.W. in script on the staff and I have attempted to show this in one of the photos.

 

Regards

Brian

 

Pair of tip staffs.JPG

Script on tip staff.JPG

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Another beautiful tipstaff, Brian. Mervyn must have thought very highly of you, and valued your friendship. Both tipstaves merit a place of honor in your collection as well as in your home. Thanks for sharing. 
Mike. 

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15 hours ago, Brian Wolfe said:

This is the second of the pair I received from Mervyn and I was told it was from Whitstable. There is only an inch difference in the length of the two tip staffs but due to the proximity to the cameras the closest specimen appears to be a good deal larger. 

There is C.W. and 14.W. in script on the staff and I have attempted to show this in one of the photos.

 

Brian, I would disagree with Mervyn on this one.  I believe your second tipstaff is not from Whitstable, but interestingly, also a Scottish tipstaff, this one I can be a little more specific, and say it's an Edinburgh tipstaff, dating from about 1805 (the time of the formation of the capital's force).  The engraving likelyr:

"C.W" = either initials of the owner, or perhaps "Commissioner Ward"

"14.W" = 14th Ward

This general form of tipstaff and this type of engraving is known to collectors, and I don't believe there's much disagreement on this attribution.  

Edinburgh had 26 Wards in 1812, and then in 1848, the capital had 32 Wards.

So, well done, you have two very nice and rare Scottish tipstaffs in your collection.

 

23 hours ago, Mike McLellan said:

gmic.co.uk: 3.weblocHi CollectorinTheUSA. Interesting topic. When you began this thread, I was hoping that you would post some photos of a couple of tipstaves from your collection. Almost exactly two years ago, in a thread simply titled "Mervyn", you told a wonderful story of how you acquired two tipstaves directly from Mervyn, with a promise to post photos. We've been waiting and now I must insist! Okay, maybe "beg" is a better term. Can we see those tipstaves. I've added a link to the original post to refresh your memory.  Well, maybe the link won't work. Anyway, your thread is dated 2/28/17.  Cheers.

Here it is! 

I'll see what I can do on photos!

16 hours ago, Brian Wolfe said:

At the same time Mervyn was only human ( qui novit omnia) and he could have been mistaken, therefore I could never take a firm stand on the identification of the tip staff I posted.

Mervyn, as dear a friend as he was, didn't ever like to be questioned by the likes of me...  I liked to question, "why" and "how do you know" and "are you sure" and Mervyn used to say, "don't question me, I just know!"  He was right most of the time, but just not always.  "Qui novit omnia" indeed!  

Edited by CollectorInTheUSA
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12 hours ago, CollectorInTheUSA said:

 

Mervyn, as dear a friend as he was, didn't ever like to be questioned by the likes of me...  I liked to question, "why" and "how do you know" and "are you sure" and Mervyn used to say, "don't question me, I just know!"  He was right most of the time, but just not always.  "Qui novit omnia" indeed!  

Oh, I experienced that on many an occasions, as have a lot of the members hear in the past. He used to say that I could be forgiven, being that I was a "colonial after all".😄

Thanks for the additional information on my tip staffs. It's not often such news is that good, usually an item thought rare you find out that is is actually common as dirt. Though any tip staff is worth collecting on its own merits, but Scottish and two at that. YOu have made my day.

Regards

Brian

Edited by Brian Wolfe
Forgot to tank the member for his information
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5 hours ago, Brian Wolfe said:

Thanks for the additional information on my tip staffs. It's not often such news is that good, usually an item thought rare you find out that is is actually common as dirt. Though any tip staff is worth collecting on its own merits, but Scottish and two at that. YOu have made my day.

Brian, you are quite welcome.  I'm glad I was able to offer some information.  With respect to your first tipstaff, I can't really say where its from in Scotland, but could be Edinburgh, and could also be Glasgow.  My sense is that there was someone who made these in one of the Scottish cities, and that they were bought and used provincially.  I've never seen a similar one engraved for either England, Wales,  Ireland, so I assume this type didn't travel far out of Scotland (that's not to say it couldn't have, and that we won't find one like this engraved for outside of Scotland in the future).  This is much in the same way that a "ball" or "acorn" ** tipstaff is agreed to be a "Bristol" type, and yet you also find ball tipstaffs in Wales, across the Bristol Channel, and acorn tipstaffs quite far away from Bristol.

For example I once saw an acorn top tipstaff engraved Weston-super-Mare, which is 25 miles away from Bristol (that was a quite a distance back in the day).  So my sense is that if you needed to buy a tipstaff for yourself back then, you just went to the "big city" and bought one (if your local jack-of-all-trades couldn't make you one).

I might as well also add that I think your first tipstaff is also likely Victorian, rather than Georgian.  I say this without any concrete proof, but it's just that I've seen others in that sort of tapering-down-form, which seemed so very much more ancient, and so this is just a "feeling" of mine, and should be taken as just that.  Maybe we'll know more as time goes by.

** Mervyn once said that a Bristol "acorn" topped tipstaff was for a "harbour master" but I have never seen evidence supporting that claim, and Mervyn never did explain where he gleaned that.  Weston S.M. does have a harbour though!

For your second tipstaff, there are more than a handful of similar ones, engraved similarly, and with a variety of numbers (although not with a variety of letters).  As I mentioned in another post, these are sufficiently known to collectors (and other very knowledgable types), for me to be able to state that they are from Edinburgh.  Let me ask you one question though:  in looking again at the photo you sent earlier, it looks to me like what you referred to as a "C.W." in the top of the engraving, can also be a "C. 10."   So, can you have another look and let me know if you think it could be a "10"? That would make much more sense and fit perfectly with other known examples.  If you agree it is, or could be, a "10", then your engraving should be read as, "Commissioner 10" over " 14th Ward".

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When I'm correct I like to be 100% correct yet when I am wrong I am usually 110% wrong! In close examination the W is in no way a W but the number 10 as you have suggested. I took for granted that it was a W based on what I was told and am embarrassed to confess that I never took a closer look. This post has turned out to be a complete revelation for me .

Thank you so much for your assistance and having started this post.

Regards

Brian

 

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1 hour ago, Brian Wolfe said:

When I'm correct I like to be 100% correct yet when I am wrong I am usually 110% wrong! In close examination the W is in no way a W but the number 10 as you have suggested. I took for granted that it was a W based on what I was told and am embarrassed to confess that I never took a closer look. This post has turned out to be a complete revelation for me .

Thank you so much for your assistance and having started this post.

Regards

Brian

 

There we go, now your tipstaff has all of its history back.  It was used by Commissioner No. 10, at Ward 14, about 1805 or so, maybe a bit later.  I think it's either George III or George IV.  Anyway, a good, rare, and valuable piece.  Enjoy it!

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Since we've moved onto Scottish Tipstaves, I figured I'd bring out the three I've picked up so far. 

William IV, Stirling High Constable, number 24.  Formerly John Green's collection.  Was never sure if it was the city or the castle.  With the number, it makes more sense for the city, in my mind.  Haven't seen any others.

George III, Carmunnock Constable.  Also ex-John Green.  Missed out on the long staff, which was sold at an auction the year before this came up.

George III Edinburgh High Constable, No. 114.  Mervyn felt it was an 1801 or before because the coat of arms, although it does look like it's a crown in the center, rather than the 'elector's cap'.

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All right, Nightbreak! Now you’re talking. Very nice tipstaves, especially the one from Edinburgh. I think you’re right about the crown. I’m not sure if the Scottish version of the Royal arms treats the Hanover inescutcheon any differently than the English version, but, either way, I think the date would be later than 1801. Very cool. 
Mike

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Hello Nightbreak, some very nice Scottish tipstaffs there.  The middle painted one from Carmunnock is of a manner and color scheme I have seen in the past, both short and long.  Not too many of those around.  

The one to the left, the "Stirling High Constable" (one marked S.H.C.), was that John's attribution of that tipstaff? ( I didn't see it in his book and I haven't before seen this attribution).  

Your Edinburgh High Constables tipstaff is a very nice thing.  As you probably know, these are rare, and I have seen fewer than 10 specimens over the years.  All the ones I've seen had fairly low numbers.  I sort of hate to say this, but I would again disagree with dear Mervyn that this one dates from 1801, and would venture an educated guess that it is more likely to be a very late 19th century, to perhaps early 20th century example (I'd have to see the style of the engraved words on the side of the silver caps, to be absolutely sure, but I'm fairly certain I'm correct on this).  

The EHC tipstaffs from the earlier periods looked different, and some of those early ones are still around, but they are very very rare.  I'm attaching below a photo that shows what the earlier ones looked like (this picture is from the mid 19th century book, "History of the High Constables of Edinburgh" by James Marwick, which I have in my library).

EHC.jpg

Edited by CollectorInTheUSA
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The stands are pewter, from a chain engraving shop that sells them as a stand for pewter diploma cases.  (The shop has a *lot* of pewter in it!)

I went looking for another example of my Edinburgh tipstaff, and the one listed here, No. 103, is classified as 19th century, with no monarch. 

 

What a glorious sight this is, though.  Woolley and Wallis Silver catalogue from 2011.  This must have been from someone's collection.

 

Tipstaves.thumb.png.2a70cf736cf826a0f72943502944cf98.png

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