Sunday 23 September 2012

Three new books on Toy Soldiers.

We have an old saying in London, "you wait ages for a bus then three come along together" and this used to be the case until the introduction of GPS Vehicle Management Systems and Bus Lanes but the saying has been retained as a euphemism for a period of scarcity followed by plenty.  Thus it has been recently with regard to books on toy soldiers, nothing for ages and then three land in my lap together.

The title translates as "Small Handbook for the Identification of German Lead Toy Soldiers" it appears to be self published by Dr. Hanns Roth as there is no publishers name or ISBN number quoted, Dr Roth has included his email address (which I won't post on the Internet but will happily pass to collectors who email me) so you could contact him direct to buy the book, my copy cost £30.  Soft cover, it has 99 pages and is illustrated in full colour throughout. 

The problem with German 40/45mm semi flat and fully round figures is that they never carry the makers name on the base and the sculpting style varies very little from one company to another.  This book does exactly what it says on the cover, it points out the subtle differences that distinguish between the the figures of Haffner, Heyde, Heinrich, Norris, Spenkuch, Krause and various other smaller manufacturers.  The text is in German but there is little of it so it's easy enough to follow with the help of Google translate and it is overflowing with illustrations, which makes it my kind of book and a long overdue addition to the wealth of toy soldier knowledge.

Die Zinnlaube, translates as The Tin Arbour (summerhouse?) and is more of an almanac than a book, it is set out in the form of individual articles on various types of old toy soldiers and I understand that it is to become an annual publication.   Produced by the German society "Friends of Old Toy Soldiers" it is edited by Dr. Ignacio Czeguhn, again there is no ISBN number and contact details available from me on request, my copy cost £20.  Soft cover, it has 85 pages and is illustrated in full colour throughout.

Articles include, figures of "Der Alte Fritz", The Huns, two smaller manufacturers of Flats - Seidel and Zufall, Anni Schweizer nativity figures 1926,  Theodor Salomon - manufacturer of 30mm solids in the 1930's, Charles Dickens' charachter figures, Abd el Kader and the Spanish Moroccan War, Interview with Dr. Hans-Henning Roer, Collectors favorite figures, book review and a photo roundup of the club Freunde Alter Spielfiguren.  Main text is in German but each article also has a precis in English and French, as you can see it's quite a good quality publication.

Tinasotilas, Tin Soldiers.  Written by Yrjo (George) Larmola, published by Gummurus Publishing Ltd. ISBN number 978-951-796-529-3, my copy cost £20

Covers the history of toy soldiers, playing with them, uniforms and then the author takes us through a potted history of the world (from a European viewpoint) illustrated by the figures from his own collection.  A novel approach but nothing new or interesting from a toy soldier perspective most of the figures illustrated are Schneider homecasts or modern white metal models, and there is no mention of SIRO the only Finnish toy figure manufacturer I know of.  The text is in Finnish so this book is only really worth getting if you speak Finn, collect books about toy soldiers or are a complete toy soldier nut.  I plead guilt on two of these charges.

Friday 14 September 2012

Rose Model Soldiers catalogue 1957

I never really got the bug for painting the white metal Military Models that proliferated during the mid 1970's, I dabbled of course but never really developed the skill or patience for all that shadowing and highlighting which became the fashion so beloved of the international modelling magazines. Some people painted them sumptuously in oils others went for the ultimate in authenticity by using vegetable dyes, for me, that path would ultimately have led to madness so I stuck to my tins of Humbrol gloss enamels and did them in Old Toy Soldier style.  Probably my favourite manufacturer of this time was Rose Models sculpted by Russell Gammage so I was delighted to discover this:

I recently bought up a selection of old magazines and while flicking through them what should fall out but this rather quaint Rose Models Soldiers catalogue from 1957.  It is an A4 sheet folded into A5 and printed on one of those old Roneo reprographic machines that we used in school before the advent of the photocopier, the sort that you fitted a carbon sheet to and turned the handle.  The smell of solvent filled the room so you felt high as a kite by about page 15, then the paper feed went askew but you didn't notice until about page 60 so every sheet had to be amended by hand where it had misprinted.  They were great days.

It's not a great document in the scheme of things but it gave me a moments amusement so I thought I would share it for anyone with a memory of Rose.  I never realised they'd been in business since the 1950's (never gave it a thought really) so I was interested to see the prices - 5 shillings (25p in today's worthless coinage) for an unpainted foot figure, in the late 1950's that would have bought you at least 5 pints of beer, today that would make the castings £17.50 each (all figures based on London beer prices).

There is no mention of Gammage's smaller scale wargame figures so I guess they didn't come out until some years later.  Since publishing this post Rob (Xaltotun of Python) has kindly directed me to a post on the Old Metal Detector blog showing that the first two Rose wargaming figures were listed in the 1956 catalogue and I subsequently noticed that what I have here is a supplement to that list.

Posts to this blog have been rather sparse of late because we recently suffered a burglary, thankfully little was taken (causing Mrs C. to observe that our electrical goods are so big and obsolete as to be not worth nicking) but the haul included my camera, and as my web/blog philosophy is to be big on images while short on text this loss has had a very limiting effect on me.  Even greater disruption has been caused by the subsequent fallout - dealing with Police and Insurers (both very helpful) changing locks, adding locks, raising the height of fences and installing an alarm system (the latter a neat piece of kit based on wireless technology which will even send me a text if the miscreant should return for a second round!).  Hopefully normal service will be resumed as soon as the insurance claim is settled, in the meantime I am reduced to the use of my scanner and whatever stock photos I can dig up.

Friday 7 September 2012

Authenticast 40mm semi flats - mystery solved!

Back in March I posted an entry about a couple of 40mm semi flat sets made by Authenticast and questioned whether they were sculpted by Holger Erikssson because they were similar to his style but didn't carry the distinctive HE monogram.   Here is a picture of one set to remind people:

I subsequently received a comment and a more detailed email from Hans Jacobson in Sweden telling me that "They are slightly modified figures from about 1910 first manufactured in Stockholm by "Gamla Santonska Tenngjureiet" (The Old Santesson Tin Foundry) originally moulded in slate moulds.  Later the slate moulds were bought by the owner of Autenticast Kurt Wennerberg.  Autenticast modified some of the figures and kept some of them as they were.  He made then new rubber moulds of them that could keep up to commercial use. I think." 

Hans also told me the original figures were made for the Morocco crises 1910-11 and very kindly sent the following picture of the other figures in the set.
I think the mounted figures are stunning particularly the rider firing from under the horse.

The name of Holger Eriksson has become so synonymous with the firm of Authenticast that it is easy to forget that he was just one of the sculptors, the main one certainly, employed by Curt Wennberg who set up the venture in The Irish Republic on behalf of Comet Metal Products of the USA in 1946.  Before that in 1937, Wennberg had set up a company called Treforest Mouldings (in Wales) who are best known for their 1:1200 scale waterline model ships (under the brand name Tremo) but are also on record as making 40mm toy soldiers.  While the ships turn up regularly (at horrendous prices) the soldiers have never been seen, so I am wondering if Wennberg originally made copies of the Santesson figures at Treforest before issuing them on a more commercial basis at Authenticast?
Hans also discovered the origin of the standard bearer, it is a Turkish Janissary from another set by Santesson depicting the 1713 Skirmish at Bender, an action from the Great Northern War which I had never heard of but which would make a great wargame scenario.  Finally Hans sent me a link to the Swedish Toy Soldier Club website which shows early Swedish 40mm semi flats as well as some 54mm figures by Holger Eriksson and another of the Authenticast sculptors, Lennart Norrke.  Here is the link the site takes a bit of navigating but it is well worth it, from the menu list on the left hand side click on "Galleri" then on "Aldre tennfigurer" for the 40mm and "Rundmassiva figurer" for the HE/LN figures.  If you have an interest in old waterline model ships, 40mm semi flats or want some inspiration for Funny Little Wars armies you'll find plenty to interest you here.