The little Red Box. Little boys came to recognize the Red Box. For over one hundred years, a little red box meant one thing to American and European little boys. Toy soldiers! More specifically, little hand painted lead ones.
And toy shop windows were certain to whet the desire for another troop surge.
Sometimes the presenter would simply pen a Christmas or Birthday greeting right on the label of the box…Labels that have become in their own right, collectible for their 19th century graphic and illustrative qualities.
But a little kid could give two hoots and damn about graphics when granddaddy presented him with another lineup of agents purveying death and destruction…or Colonial Oppression. He just wanted to play with them…contort them…knock ‘em over with whatever ordnance was around…maybe a marble or a projectile from an unrelated toy…a cork firing pop gun.
One thing was for sure…these fragile lead things didn’t remain intact forever.
Sometimes granddaddy and father would commandeer Junior’s new toys…much to the dismay of the little tike.
Adults began to accumulate them for I’m sure, a plethora of deeply closeted reasons.
Officers in mess dress would sometimes assemble a grouping of lead soldiers over cocktails and debate, as in this case, the American Civil War.
LFG has a source for antique lead soldiers. She knows what her dad enjoys collecting and she always makes stellar pics when it’s gift time for daddy. Last night she rounded the corner with a little Red Box.
Even though she’s entering the cool stage way too early to suit me, she still gets as much delight in presenting me with a little Red Box as I get in receiving it.
Indian conscripts. French made by a firm in Paris…still in business. They began in the Marais over one hundred and fifty years ago. I love how the German and French soldier makers would sloppily or with benign neglect, use incorrect colors for British flags or create uniforms that were a bit askew. Mission accomplished on these old Mignot troops.
Nothing like a Brethren pink oxford cloth shirt as a staging area before billeting the new/old troops with some comrades. Secured now amidst incongruous peers including Highland troops, Mexicans, Hussars and some Japanese infantry guys in the cheap seats.
Happy Birthday to me.
Onward. Older and blessed to be so.