Thursday, January 31, 2013

Bonhams - Toy Metal Soldiers

Wednesday, January 31, 2013

Toy Metal Soldiers


    Growing up in Canada, we'd see a lot of British movies. After WWII, Canada received a huge influx of people from Europe and the British Isles who wanted to make a new life in Canada. Eventually they settled here, and when TV became more popular, naturally many people purchased black and white TV's and watched TV on the 3 channels that were available. 2 were from the US across the border, and you could get them with a regular 10' (3.5) meter antenna with a rotor. The other station was CBC - our national television network.

    By the mid-1950's CBC would show British movies to all, but I guess for the new Canadian immigrants and citizens. I'd watch the old Sherlock Holmes movies with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce,  The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Charge of the Light Brigade, The Fuur Feathers, and many other British movies whose name escapes me. What I liked about  the British movies was the scenery and costumes. I was too young to have been around for WWII, so I knew nothing about the War.  However,British movies presented lots of history (not always historically correct), but who cared when you were 
8-12.  Even today, I like  British movies that present majestic countrysides, period props and costumes,  of course the "British accent",  great acting and a great story.

   I woke  up today to another great day in the blog-writing world. Mr. James Opie from the Collectors' Department  of Bonhams had replied to my request,and I had the permission to use their photos on their site and of course write about them. James is a Consultant, Toy Soldiers and Figures, of the Collectors' DepartmentHowever, the great news did not stop there.  He suggested that I go to his blog, which I did. Whoa! Now I actually had a resource to learn about toy soldiers. Naturally, there were photos there, and information, and so I needed more permissions which I most-gratefully obtained.

   What I like about lead soldiers is the detail.  Montreal, Quebec, having a chronic "issue" with the rest of Canada does not have military parades.  The provincial Separatists keep complaining about Canada,and how better off they would be  as a "Nation", separated from Canada. As a result, that's all Montreal would need are Canadian troops parading  in downtown Montreal. Sadly, many Quebecers gave their lives both in WWI and WWII, as Quebecers and Canadians for their province and Country!

   For today, I decided to simply present the select images that I picked from the Bonhams excellent website. THe images are large-sized so there's lots of detail. I wrote to James that I saw elsewhere a lead soldier who was loading his gun with a paper wrapped cartridge. That dates  the soldiers at least to the mid 1800's - late 1880's, but I'm sure my dates are off. I'm sure James as a toy soldier consultant has to have an encyclopaedic memory to be able not only to identify the manufacturer, but then to date where the toy soldier was made, after which division or group he belonged to, and in what foreign  area of the world he had been deployed.  I did see again the recent remake of The Four Feathers, and so if I saw a toy solider on a Camel, I could tell you that it was modelled after 1 of the African divisions in the 1850's or earlier. I couldn't tell you if it was in the Sudan, or Khartoum, or some other former British colony thought.

I was going to write short history about Bonhams ,but I'll save that for another post. I think I've "talked enough" for today.  I will say however, that Bonhams has been around since 1793 or 220 years. What would be  interesting is to visit their archives to see what they sold way back when and who purchased what!

(Please click on the above address to be redirected to Bonhams excellent website)

James Website address is below. So if you like information as well as photos,you can certainly learn a lot about this fascinating area of old and antique toys.

What's interesting about the photo above is that the arms of the soldiers are attached separately, rather than made in 1 mould or casting. I would think that they articulate (move). The horses also have pins in them, so I'm also wondering about their mobility.

I wanted to present only British soldiers, and so I worked to enhance this image in Photoshop.
I then saw the American flag and let this images stay.

     I haven't even scratched the surface of this fascinating area, but there is so much to see here.Imagine that many of the toys were hand painted!  Also, what's interesting is that with  Great Britain's long history, there were so many different uniforms for different parts of the world, both for pageantry, as well as utility throughout the hundreds of years of the British Empire. WHat's also interesting is that I've seen (in books and movies) entire armies with hundreds of different soldiers in different positions, and different props,  and uniforms.  That alone could keep one occupied for years and years!

So that's my post on Bonhams for today. I will have to learn about this area of metal soldiers because they're part of history. And for sure, it's good to both know about history, and to know something about the topic!

Thanks for dropping by,

and have a great part of the morning, afternoon, or evening, wherever you my be

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