THE ORIGINS OF THE SPECIES
With thanks to Chas.Darwin Esq
A SHORT DISCOURSE UPON THE ARTISTIC DESIGNS THAT ONCE UPON
A TIME PROBABLY INFLUENCED WILLIAM BRITAIN
IN THE PRODUCTION AND MANUFACTURE OF LEAD SOLDIERS
AT HIS HORNSEY WORKSHOP IN NORTH LONDON
WITH MANY ILLUSTRATIONS FROM CONTEMPORARY SOURCES
William Britain, as we all know, was an inventor and manufacturer of toys.
His invention of a hollow casting process for lead soldiers has given many people much pleasure for more than a hundred years and dozens of books and hundreds of articles have been written about the figures, their production, their rarity and their values.
But, the original drawings or illustrations, from which to make the master figures, where did they come from? John Tunstill on his website now, for the very first time, throws light on the original illustrations that were used in order to create the famous Britain's figures, and provides firm contemporary evidence for his claims.
Now read on........
So, what inspired our Bill? But as he was the Guv'nor of the company, we had better restrict our informality to William. Inspiration, that ephemeral muse, must have come from the pages of one or more of the popular publications, England was still part of Great Britain, the sun never set..etc., the old Queen still ruled, all was well with the Empire, and never mind the natives, "They didn't like the cold steel up 'em", yer know.
Edward Muybridge of the human and animal movement photographic fame, hadn't produced his work, and even after it was generally available the majority of ordinary folk would not have had any interest in the fact that horses couldn't raise all four feet off the ground at the same moment and that foot soldiers couldn't, and didn't, march with splayed feet and bent knees.
The illustrations in Tunstill's fascinating article are taken from original books or artwork in his own library, and they complement the figures in his, and your, collections, and all of which are held in the Soldier Collection, La Preghiera, Calzolaro, 06018, PG, Italia, in the middle of Italy in the province of Umbria, to which you are all invited.
The article, its photos, details, descriptions and illustrations are available only to subscribers to the website www.soldierssoldiers.com, where, in time, they will have access to more than three thousand Britain's figures that are gradually being catalogued and prepared for sale, and some five hundred military prints.
The Subscription to the site costs only ten English pounds, and can be paid by Paypal, and subscribers are entitled to receive free lead soldiers or military prints....an offer you really shouldn't miss.
Pic 3 - Queens Own Cameron Highlander, 1893, from the Illustrated Histories of the Scottish Regiments, Book Nš 3, by Lt. Colonel Percy Groves, Illustrated by Harry Payne, published by W & A K Johnston Edinburgh.
Pic 3a - Mounted highland officer, and marching highlander by Wm.Britain.
Pic 3b - Marching highlanders by Soldiers' Soldiers.
Pic 4 - Life Guards Drummer, from Bands of the British Army, by W J Gordon, illustrated by F Stansell, Frederick Warne, London.
Pic 4 - Life Guards Drummer, made by Wm.Britain.
Pic 4 - Horse Guards Trumpeter and Drummer, from Bands of the British Army, by W J Gordon, illustrated by F Stansell, Frederick Warne, London.
Pic 4 - Horse Guards Drummer, a Britain's error as all Household Cavalry bandsmen in full dress, wear crimson and gold, not navy blue and gold.
Pic 5 - Inspection by the General, from Life in the Army, illustrated by R. Simpkin, published by Chapman and Hall, London.
Pic 5 - Britain's General, and also Officer of Foot Guards.
Pic 6 - On the March, (Royal Fusiliers), from Life in the Army, illustrated by R. Simpkin, published by Chapman and Hall, London.
Pic 6a - The awkward stance, was another example of artistic licence. Humans cannot walk like this, and troops certainly couldn't march like this. Edward Muybridge hadn't yet produced his film strips of moving animals, and humans, which thereafter gave access to much more anatomical accuracy.
Pic 6b - Royal Fusiliers, made by Soldiers' Soldiers 1970's, 54mm lead alloy.
These pictures show the close affinity of Soldiers' Soldiers to their Britain's grandparents. Soldiers' soldiers were originally produced to supplement the existing collections of Britain's figures after the manufacture of metal soldiers ceased in the late 1960's.