Monday, January 24, 2011

Colonial Conscripts on Pink Oxford Cloth

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.


Gretchen said...

Oh, wow, those are fantabulous. And, most importantly, a very happy birthday to you, ADG!!! Here at White Trash Manor, birthdays tend to become BirthWeeks-a really big deal. So, in that fashion, keep celebrating and enjoying yourself to the nth!

RHW said...

Great post...those toy soldiers are great. Now, to my rant for the day. Damn the professional dry cleaners who RUINED my brand spanking new pink Brooks Brothers OCBD!!

Wife picked up laundry on Saturday morning. Yesterday dressing for the Handlin' I remove the plastic bag and bread-bag twisty tie from a group of 3 neatly laundered and pressed dress shirts and I notice this professional looking hang tag on the hangar holding my new pink shirt that says something like "hey we noticed this stain on your shirt and wanted you to know we tried pretty hard to get it out but couldn't...sorry dude."

The stain is in the perfect shape of an iron, no kidding. Scorch marks on the placket, and a black smudge on the front. I'm going by the cleaners at lunch today to fuss at them. Dammit.


LPC said...

Happy Birthday Mr. G! What a nice little bitty girlie you've got. But you know that. Many happy returns indeed.

James said...

Words simply fail me. God bless that sweet child and Happy Birthday to one of the good guys.

Patsy said...

Happiest of Birthdays!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, hope it is a good one.

Anonymous said...

Happy Day-After-Birthday to Aquarius Man!

"When you are dating an Aquarius Man you must remember that he approaches the game of love slowly, methodically and deliberately. 'Playing' the dating game of love is fun and should never be rushed.

An unconventional but innovative charmer who can wow those around them. Full of surprises, they simply cannot be happy or fulfilled unless they are free to do as they like.

They are never willing to sacrifice their autonomy, but will generally always put honesty ahead of romance. As a committed partner they are likely to be faithful and trusting, as any form of dishonesty goes against the Aquarius grain.

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Their inherent curiosity tends to lead them to creative experiment between the sheets, so be prepared! A lover who can appreciate the Aquarian quirks and gently draw them out, will create a romance dance that goes on and on.

Aquarian men often believe that their way is the best, so it's no surprise that they are attracted to a partner who might mirror those good qualities.

Social interaction and ability to impress the masses for some good cause are near and dear to the Aquarian heart, so a partner in these areas is their just reward.

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Britt Sudduth said...

Happiest Birthday Wishes ADG! I much admire the soldier collection. I forwarded on to my brother who collected the same as a youngster.

I on the other hand have enjoyed viewing your VF Caricature collection and with birthday money of my own procurred 2 originals (SPY) from eBay. I'll post upon receipt so you can see. Thanks for the inspiration!

mistermidwester said...

Long time reader, first time poster.

As a dad-to-be of a little girl, this post made me smile even more.

Happy Birthday! And many, many more to come.

Preppy 101 said...

Happy Birthday ADG!! Best present ever: the love of a daughter for her daddy. xoxo

Main Line Sportsman said...

Love those soldiers....
Love that LFG knows what her Dad likes and presents him with same on his Birthday.

RHW said...

Happy Birthday ADG! In my pre-dawn rage I overlook the significance of your post. Regrets,


Gail, in northern California said...

Happiest of birthday wishes to you.

That picture of your little golden-hair with the puppy is adorable. She can hardly contain herself. So very gentle and the dog reacted exactly as you'd expect of such tenderness. Wish you didn't have to travel for a living. Regrettably, you can't have both.

Laguna Beach Fogey said...

Happy Birthday, G! Interested to learn of your toy soldier collection. I used to collect as well, though my periods of interest were the SYW, AWI, and various colonial wars in Africa. In fact I recently came across some storage boxes containing large number of soldiers, including some plastic Britains. The last time I looked at them was probably some time in the early 1980s. Good Lord, it really has been that long! The little chaps still look trim and in excellent fighting shape. I need to find a new war in which to deploy them.

Scale Worm said...

The collection you have is just wonderful to behold, and I appreciate your sharing them with us. I have Painted plumbium envy now!

You have a lovely daughter! Daughters make the world go round in warm, true loving style, and I do not know what I would do (or what I did) without my own.

Many, Many Happy Returns Sir!

heavy tweed jacket said...

Best wishes on your Birthday, it sounds like a fun one. More gift ideas? Perhaps ties to match each of the regiments in your collection.

Summer is a Verb said...

Happy Birthday my astrological opposite! Any cake on the premises? That's one sure fire way to lure women to your home! XXOO

yoga teacher said...

Happy birthday to you!

Young Fogey said...

To quote Owl,


Many happy returns!

Aside: "Colonial oppression" my shiny white hiney! Everywhere the Brits went, the standards of living shot up as they, like the Romans* before them, brought the barbarians up to their own standards--as far as the barbarians were capable, of course. De-colonization has been nothing short of a disaster as the natives receded into the mire of their own primitive ways (best case in point: Rhodesia, a prosperous, safe country that was a net exporter of food has become Zimbabwe, a dangerous hellhole of corruption, cronyism, staggering inflation, rampant murder, and, of course, almost no food except for the food aid we generously send which is immediately intercepted by the government and distributed to its supporters).

But I digress. Hope it's not too incendiary (and yes, there's a wee touch o' hyperbole there).

*"But apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?"
--"Reg," in Life of Brian

ADG said...

Thanks everyone. My birthday weekend was an LFG one and it was perfecto. Science project stuff all weekend. Now I’m in San Antonio…converting the strategically unwashed masses to the new realities of our healthcare marketplace. And you wonder why, in my spare time, I write blog stories and collect antique lead soldiers.

RHW…sorry about your pink shirt but damn…it’s my birthday. Does it always have to be about you? For ONE DAY a year it would be nice….. (damn, that was marriage vu all damn over again)

LPC...Thanks Prunella. I’m blessed beyond good measure.

James...Thanks! We are making progress…I have a mailing tube of goodies assembled for you.

Flo...I can’t get a date these days but thanks for the profile on me. I’m gonna do a post on your comment. It’s all true…you know…about how Aquarius men, butspecially me, are acrobat attentive lovers who nirvana-ize every moment of carnal connectivity. Yep.

Britt Sudduth...Great. Let me know which ones you bought. And the toy soldiers are great collecting fun. God Bless ebay.

mistermidwester...Congrats on your daughter. Have you named her? I used to put my head on LFG’s mommy’s tummy and called her by name and told her stories.

Preppy 101...and grandbabies too…for you!

Main Liner...thanks. I’ve trained LFG well. Failed same effort with her mom. BTW…been hankering to shoot birds again. I’m hoping the hankering will go away but I’ve been reading a great British magazine called The Field and it’s set me to hankering.

RHW...Thanks for the second comment. Your ass was about to be on probation.

GailNorCal...LFG longs for her own puppy but we just can’t accommodate it with my travel. That Frenchie in the photo is a GREAT dog. I gave him a deep tissue shoulder massage the other day. He was putty. Then he pooted.

LagunaFogeyMon...I had plastic ones as a kid but my uncle gave me some old lead ones and that started it. Like you, I trend towards unique troops reflecting colonial endeavours and what I’ll call exotics. I prefer German makers…Heyde but I do have some older Britains as well. But based on your interests, you HAVE to google “William Hocker toy soldiers” and take a look at his Nile Campaign, Boer and S. Africa stuff. He’s a retired architect who has a passion for reproducing the best of the best toy soldiers. Just reading his historical write ups on the soldiers is worth the visit to his website.

Scale Wormer...Thanks on all fronts.

heavy tweedmon…GREAT collecting idea. Alas, my tie wearing days are few. But wait! Who said I have to wear the ties??

AllieVonDon’tGiveADamnAboutThe LittlePeopleSinceParis…I got other techniques that trump cake.

YoungFogeyColonialist...You left out Sudan and Angola and Baltimore (kidding everyone…kidding)

Laguna Beach Fogey said...

Thanks ADG, I'll check it out. I have a question. Do you think your interest in fine clothing, VF prints, and Dandyism stems from your early interest in lead soldiers?

Gretchen said...

Good luck in San Antonio! At least it's warm there...not the least bc of the heated healthcare debate, i guess. You want a pooting dog to visit, that can certainly be arranged...for cake or martinis...

Hilton said...

A belated Happy Birthday to you, sir.

Lisa said...

AS a long time reader, first time poster I read your post with much interest and then realized that you share a birthday with my husband. I am still a little foggy from all of the celebrating going on here to catch on quickly to the coincidence. From now on, I'll never forget your birthday - no red boxes/presents but I'll remember you. Happy Birthday ADG and many healthy/happy more!

Anonymous said...

"I can’t get a date these days but thanks..."

Oh baloney.

Main Line Sportsman said...

ADG-If that hankering remains next season....just say the word and we'll have you in the field or blind!

K.S.A. said...

Happy birthday, old sport. Many happy returns.

ADG said...

KSA...thanks man. Are you sleeping any better?

Main Liner...thanks! I'm gonna go kill some clays here one weekend when the weather permits.

Flo..."my baloney has a first name...."


Gretchen...I don't want to know how you can guarantee a dog to poot on command.

LagunaMon...Interesting question. I think they are separate phenomena...but both...toy soldiers and sartorial proclivities...simply manifesting in an active, curious, visual mind.

Easy and Elegant Life said...

Happiest of Birthday Wishes ADG!

Love that Mess Orderly. Closest I'd ever get to staff.

ADG said...

Eleganto....Thanks buddy. One of my best buddies from childhood gave me the Mess Officer set. His father made it. The orderly serving drinks came from another maker.