Monday, 9 September 2013
Wargaming on the Antiques Roadshow
Tonight's edition of the BBC's Antiques Roadshow (Eastbourne Bandstand 2) had an intriguing item on a collection of around 1,000 metal figures dating from the 1860s and 1870s, which had been used for wargames by a boy who became and officer in the Royal Scots Fusiliers in 1878. He took the bulk of them on his first posting to Rangoon, where he played wargames on the floor of his bungalow with the Regimental Surgeon on a large canvas map spread on the floor. It also sounded as if he might have conducted some play by mail activity with his brothers who remained with the rest of the collection in Liverpool. The collection also includes a large notebook which described how these wargames were carried out.
Antiques Roadshow expert Graham Lay says he is puzzled as he thinks wargaming (meaning battles with model soldiers) is usually accepted to have started at the turn of the century. This view is understandable - Lloyd Osbourne's article in Scribner's Magazine on Robert Louis Stevenson's wargames appeared in 1898.
While clearly people will have fought battles with their model soldiers for many years, from simple plying to more formal rules, this does seem a notable new instance and could be the earliest dated example of more formal wargaming.