Monday, 30 September 2013

More News from the Antiques Roadshow

A further email has landed from Graham Lay - he thinks the figures may have been 30mm but can't be sure. He has also been reading your comments here.

He writes:

Thank you so much for your further e-mail. I had no idea that Donald Featherstone had died recently, what a loss. However he has left behind a huge legacy of which we can all be grateful.

I am truly sorry that I cannot recall the size of the figures as I know how important this is to the identity of the makers. I have viewed again all of the recording we made including that which was left out. As you will no doubt understand, we often take up to 30 minutes to record all that is needed, which is edited down to about 4 minutes. Much of the remainder is no more than repositioning things and video that we can use in editing later (what we term 'cutaways'). These consist of close-ups of a finger pointing, or a minute of me nodding and suchlike. However the day is incredibly hectic and it is difficult to remember all things. Even so I am pretty sure that I recall 30mm, although I may be mistaken. I hope you will be able to discuss this with the family perhaps.

Having read some of the other comments one of the things that I recall was that 'miniskirt' highlanders were felt to be repainted French figures and not moulded as Scots at all. I think it is important for you to discuss this with the family really. Will you let me know if you do so and what progress you make please? I would be truly interested to know your thoughts once you have gone deeper into it.

Best wishes

If any further progress is made, I will let you know, but timing may be dictated by the wishes of the family, should they make contact.


tradgardmastare said...

Interesting and I do hope we hear more...

Brian Carrick said...

Some stills from the video have been posted on the old_school_wargames Yahoo group and these are very helpful in giving a better view of the figures. I think it is clear from these that the Highlanders are as originally manufactured and not repainted/converted from French infantry. The slightly larger sized African natives, probably by another maker are also as originally made.

The figures in bearskins are certainly conversions and on one you can still make out a havelock neck cover, so he could have originally been an English or French infantryman.

It was common for manufacturers to use a basic figure with a different paint job to represent the armies of other countries for the export market, so a figure in a kepi with pompom might be sold as French, Belgian, Danish, Spanish, Greek etc. This practice went on in all toy soldier mediums until well into the mid C20th.

Tempting as it is to view these from a modern perspective as wargaming miniatures we should always keep in mind that they were actually made for the mass juvenile toy trade and their use by adults for gaming seems to have been relatively uncommon by comparison at the time

Best wishes, Brian

Vintage Wargaming said...

I think I would still stick to the view that the Groves and Benoy figures were the first purpose designed wargames figures (and I am very happy to have some of these which have come via Seamus Wade's collection)while ranges like the Rose 20mm one were among the first wargames figures aimed at a general market, rather than specially commissioned for one wargamer.

There were some patrician overtones in activities of the Peter Young type "officer type" gamers, as the model soldier figures they used were prohibitively expensive for most people; which is why Don Featherstone's contribution in truly popularising wargaming and finding ways of bringing it within the reach of many was so significant.

For me the wargaming interest in the Antiques Roadshow piece is in the book; the figures are toy soldiers used for the wargame but not specifically designed for it, while it looks like the book could be 100% wargaming. It would be very interesting to see the content.