Further to my recent post on an edition of the Victorian-era Illustrated London News, Mark from over at Man of Tin blog has done a little research (nice work, Mark!). After reading through this 1863 newspaper, I had drawn attention to a classified advertisement for “The Little Modeller”, which promoted a ready-to-make model cricket field / model village with coloured engravings.
I was intrigued about the existence of Victorian miniatures and model making, so was delighted when Mark subsequently found a pristine example of this very set (H.G. Clarke and Co’s Saxton Model Village) on a New Zealand museum’s website. The quality of the museum’s photograph is tremendous and the page allows for extreme close-up zooming to see the fine details. It’s a thing of beauty and I urge visitors to go and have a look at the illustrations and composition.
It seems to be a kind of early forerunner to the paper soldiers which have been produced with great success recently by Peter Dennis’ Paperboys range of paper soldiers and landscapes.
The publisher even manages a little miniature self-advertisement “H.G. Clarke Magic Toymaker, 232 The Strand.” Clarke’s old headquarters address today is a c.1900 building called Thanet House situated opposite The Royal Courts of Justice in London.
They remind me a little of the BBC Paddington animations from the 1970s produced by Film Fair with their finely drawn 2D figures. I’d be very interested to see Clarke and Co’s cricket field too!
My ‘Russian sledge train‘ figures are progressing nicely. Because they’re such varied characters, I’m splitting them up into painting batches so that I feel a sense of making progress. Here’s the first batch:
The Peasant Pummeler
This fellow above is angrily wielding a big stick. Collectively, the figures in the box lend themselves to an overall narrative which will hopefully make sense when I put them together. Suffice to say, he might have something to do with settling the dispute taking place in the next group of figures…
“The other piece is also a pair, and also includes one of the eastern irregulars, this time with a bow and quiver on his belt. He holds a fowl of some sort, as does the other figure, who is a woman. Whether they are capturing it, attempting to kill it, or perhaps fighting over it we cannot say – all seem reasonable possibilities. Whatever is going on it is bad news for the bird but quite an appealing piece for us.“
It seems clear to me that they’re fighting over it, the Central Asian warrior (a Bashkir or Kalmyk perhaps) is taking it away to the sledge as fodder for the army. I doubt a dead bird would not be handed over by the legs like that (being all floppy and all) and what’s more they seems to be engaged in a tug of war, pulling away in different directions. Finally, I think the peasant woman’s face is shouting. She has good reason to protest. In winter, the seizure of livestock like this could mean life and death to peasant folk.
The Sheep Stealer
The next character is carrying a dead sheep across his shoulders. Again, PSR were unsure as to the nature of this animal, but the fleece (which doesn’t come out very well under the lens) seems to be a giveaway.
I’ve placed this Cossack in a tan coloured coat rather than the usual blue, just for a bit of visual variety.
The Pig Plunderer
This Cossack has his hands full with a pair of piglets. I’ve got to attend to their trotters and snouts but otherwise I think they look OK. Nice work from Strelets with the Cossack’s face, which is full of character.
More to come from these with another ten figures still to do including, of course, a sledge! Later, I aim to combine them all in some kind of a final scene.
Detail on these HaT figures is a little vague here and there, but I’ve done my best to pick out as much as I can. Never HaT’s strongest point, the horses sculpting are acceptable rather than great, but they’ll do.
The Imperial Mounted Infantry would have looked a little rough and ready. In a muted painting style, I’ve tried to hint at this dusty and threadbare chic and also aim to add a little dust on to their boots when basing.
A private of the 90th Foot in the uniform of the Imperial Mounted Infantry.
Retaining his regimental tunic, he wears corduroy riding breeches, a leather bandolier instead of a belt, riding boots with spurs and carries a Swinburne-Henry carbine.
In my squadron, I’ve included representatives from some of the different regiments which supplied 1st squadron, Imperial Mounted Infantry with troops: mostly the 24th Foot (green facings) and the 80th, (red with yellow collar tabs), but also a few from the 3rd Foot (buff), and the 13th Light Infantry (dark blue).
The mounted poses look perfect for vedettes and scouts, a key role of the MI. Virtually all of their fighting would have been done on foot as infantry, so it’s good there’s some nice dismounted poses too.
This rediscovered old box of figures seems to be missing five horses and until I find replacements, some will have to remain ‘unmounted mounted infantry’:
So, they’re not based yet and I may even stall that process until I find some extra horses for them but I’ve glued some on to spare off-cuts of plastic card ready for when I do! At least, after nearly a decade, these accidental equestrians have finally been painted!
Being always interested in the colourful array of Napoleonic yeomanry, I recently noticed a striking painting up for sale. It’s a contemporary oil painting of an officer of the Surrey Yeomanry Cavalry which I thought pleasing enough to share.
In the distance can be seen the whole regiment lined up as well as a separate group nearby. They wear white over red plumes while the officer wears red. One of this group is presumably intended to be a trumpeter wearing a darker (navy?) coloured coat, a Tarleton possibly with its crest being topped with red, and also being mounted on a grey. His instrument might possibly just be discerned being held in his right hand.
From the heavy pall of smoke to the left distance, a significant battle seems to be in progress – a fanciful invention for a regiment whose duties were principally limited to policing civil unrest!
I was initially unsure of the year it was painted but the sale description suggested the officer has drawn a Pattern 1822 Light Cavalry Sword. This trusty weapon was to remain in use in the British army up until 1896 and in some yeomanry regiments well into the 20th century.
The regiment was disbanded briefly at the end of the 1820s. Given the sword pattern, the Napoleonic-era uniform and Tarleton helmet, it seemed likely that it must have been mid-1820s, prior to any subsequent uniform change. Yeomanry could be slow to adopt changes in military fashion from the regular forces as the cost of adopting new uniforms would usually come from the regiment’s own colonel and benefactor. A portrait of a quartermaster from the Leicestershire Yeomanry, for example, shows him still wearing a Tarleton helmet in the 1850s!
A little research soon threw up another Boult painting of a Surrey Yeomanry Cavalry officer. This portrait is dated 1823. Presumably both the paintings being commissioned together and is therefore likely the same date as the first canvas. This painting depicts the officer in a more dynamic pose, firing his pistol, seemingly as he rides hurriedly back towards his lines away from the enemy! To the distance right, another line of light blue Surrey yeomen can be seen. Notably, the trouser on this officer is of a light blue or blue-grey colour rather than the apparent black in the first portrait.
Also in the saleroom is this 100mm Die-Cast figure of Colonel Lord Leslie of the Surrey Yeomanry Cavalry, the regiment’s founder. Dying in 1817, this is not the same as the officer in the painting.
And the painting of the Surrey Yeomanry continues to this day as seen on this pub sign (depicting a later incarnation of the regiment). On Dorking High Street is a pub which was named in honour of Lord Leslie back in the early 19th century, the Lord being a former neighbour.
About the artist:
I can’t find much information about the artist Augustus S. Boult beyond what appears on auction sites. It appears that he specialised in painting equestrian, country and hunting subjects and painted at least some other cavalry portraits. It appears that he had a relation (possibly a son), Francis, who followed in the same tradition, painting very similar subjects but seemingly non-military. Augustus Boult died in 1853.
“This regiment was formed in 1881 and adopted the name of “Princess Charlotte of Wales Regiment”. In 1885, the regiment was granted the title of “Royal” in recognition of the service of the 1st Battalion at the action of Tofrek in 1885. The drawing depicts a private of the old 66th Foot in the uniform of 1855.“
Number 13 of 25 from “British Uniforms of the 19th Century” – a cigarette card series issued by manufacturer Amalgamated Tobacco (Mills).
“This regiment was raised in 1689. In the Royal Warrant of 1713 it was described as the “Royal Regiment of Welsh Fuzileers”. The present form of spelling “Welch” was adopted in 1920. The drawing shows a fusilier in 1849.”
Number 12 of 25 from “British Uniforms of the 19th Century” – a cigarette card series issued by manufacturer Amalgamated Tobacco (Mills).
My daughter dug out one of my old board games to keep us amused today. I remember it from my childhood as being one of the games that I wanted to play but struggled to get anyone to join me. This was a great shame because it was right up my street, describing itself as ;
“A compelling game of military and political strategy in the age of Napoleon.”
The game (first marketed in 1971) uses a board featuring six Napoleonic European countries; France, Prussia, Russia, Austria, Spain and Italy. Italy, not being an independent country at the time, does not take an active part in the game but is still subject to being invaded and its cities changing hands. Three different pieces represent either cavalry, infantry or a general and each of these pieces have their own attributes and abilities. To win the game, one must either capture enough cities / territory across the board, capture the opponents capital, or – less likely – to destroy the entire army of the enemy.
My daughter adopted the powers of Austria and France while I selected Prussia and Russia as allies. Understanding the game was difficult first off and she never really felt she understood it even at the end! For me, I enjoyed it and can see that repeated play would help my understanding of the elements of Napoleonic campaign strategy (boldness, caution, lines of communication, etc).
The edges of the game board are decorated with some fabulous illustrations of Napoleonic troops by an illustrator called I. Thompson:
A YouTuber has posted a detailed a multi-part examination of the game (five parts!). He mentions the ‘very attractive cover’ with its convincingly real Napoleonic shakos, cuirass, bugle and other militaria. It’s a sentiment which I fully agree with and which probably attracted me to the game in the first place back in the 1980s:
The game booklet suggests that “as players become more experienced they will recognise the parallels between the moves they make and the military and political strategies of the Napoleonic years…”. One YouTuber described the game as sharing ‘a lot in common with Chess, but is more asthetically pleasing and has a luck element in it’. The Campaign booklet itself concludes with the sage words “…Campaign is a game to be studied as well as played.”
Now, I wonder if I can tempt anyone else to another game?
“The Durham Light Infantry was formed by the linking of the ’68th Foot or Durham Regiment’ with the 106th Bombay Light Infantry in 1881. The 68th Foot became a Light Infantry Corps in 1808. The drawing portrays a Private of the 68th in 1846.”
Number 11 of 25 from “British Uniforms of the 19th Century” – a cigarette card series issued by manufacturer Amalgamated Tobacco (Mills).
When this Regiment was raised in 1685, it was designated “Princess Anne of Denmark’s Regiment”. The title was changed when George I came to the throne, this time to “The 8th Foot”. The drawing shows a Sergeant wearing the uniform of 1828.
Number 7 of 25 from “British Uniforms of the 19th Century” – a cigarette card series issued by manufacturer Amalgamated Tobacco (Mills).
The 16th Regiment of Foot, of which we show a private in 1828, was raised in 1688. In 1782, the regiment received the county title of “The Buckinghamshire Regt”. The Hertford Militia became a battalion in 1881 when the regiment became known by its present title.
Number 6 of 25 from “British Uniforms of the 19th Century” – a cigarette card series issued by manufacturer Amalgamated Tobacco (Mills).