Friday, 27 September 2013

Wargaming on the Antiques Roadshow - take 2

The Antiques Roadshow got back in touch with me yesterday after I contacted them on date of broadcast of the item shown in the previous post.

Graham Lay, the expert involved, says:

Thank you for the email which has been forwarded by our office at the BBC regarding the fascinating early lead wargaming figures and most unusual and possibly unique hand written book describing some of the campaigns fought between the youngest brother in India and other countries and the two brothers at home in Liverpool. One of the interesting aspects is that most of the figures had been repainted in different uniforms, so making French soldiers (from German and French soldiers of the Franco-Prussian war) into British for example. This was done actually at the time of that war or probably just afterwards. I am not sure if this is something that happened often but I believe not. It is likely that necessity caused them to use whatever they were able to obtain.

I felt sure at the time I saw the collection and recorded it with the owner (grandson of the original chap) that this was not just a collection of some importance in the wargaming field because of its early period but also would be of great interest to those whose pastime it is.

I am not certain that the owner I interviewed knew of the real historical importance of the objects or if they had ever come across people such as yourself, or Donald Featherstone for example, in the past. The original owner, whose photographs we showed in the programme was born in 1858. The handwritten book gives dates that are not quite correct bearing in mind his birth year and it appears earlier than in fact it was. For example it states that the army was formed in 1860, which would lead the reader to believe that he started to use the figures at that time, whereas in fact he would have only been two years old. It is understood that he started wargaming at around fifteen years of age. This must be borne in mind if you have the opportunity of looking at it. It primarily describes campaigns in the fictional country of Georland (his name was George) and is quite detailed and has some good illustrations. George died fairly young of dysentery on the ship on his way home from Rangoon I believe when the current owner's father was four years old. In some of his letters he describes various campaigns and it is not until they are read some way into the letter that it is understood whether he is referring to real or lead soldiers!

My office at the BBC is in contact with the family and will contact you shortly to let you know if they are happy to talk to you. I will give my full support and encouragement to the family to speak with you.


I have asked Graham if he could estimate the size of the figures - whether 30mm or 40-45mm - as preople have found this surprisingly difficult to do from viewing the programme.

I will let people know of any further progress through the blog

9 comments:

SteelonSand said...

That's great news - thanks for following through on this - it would be a shame for the historically significant collection to fade back into obscurity.....

tradgardmastare said...

Interesting developments indeed.I await further updates with great interest...

Will McNally said...

Interesting extra details, especially around the date

Simon Miller said...

Fascinating stuff! I can picture the original owner repainting the French and Germans into patriotic red. That is a collection that really should be in a museum, on display.

I do hope we hear more about it...

MSFoy said...

Fascinating. If my breath has ever been bated, this is certainly just such an occasion - fantastic stuff. Well done - I'm really very interested to see what happens next.

Vintage Wargaming said...

It seems John Curry is also trying to make contact with them (see his comment on the previous post) so provided the family are happy to talk I hope we will get somewhere with making at least a description or some of the content available in some shape or form.

AlFront said...

This is all rather exciting! Do keep us up to date - a new chapter (or, at least, part of a chapter) is being written.

Christopher Maine said...

Just wondering after reading the post if it's possible the gentleman in the photo (Supposedly born 1858) did not inherit the army which was started in 1860 possibly by someone else from the family (I.E. Father, Uncle, older sibling?) in 1863 when he was fifteen yrs of age. If so that would possibly make someone else a possible valuable missing-link in the history of wargaming would it not?

Just a theory after reading the above post. Please keep us updated!

Cheers

Christopher Maine said...

Correction on my math 15yrs old in 1873!