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'A gaping silken dragon,/Puffed by the wind, suffices us for God./We, not the City, are the Empire's soul:/A rotten tree lives only in its rind.'

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Something different...but not completely

While peering into the cupboard, which, sadly, does not possess the magical properties of Lynne Reid Banks' cupboard, I came across part of my very small collection of paper soldiers. These are, I am fairly sure, of US manufacture, from the early 1900s:

Blue jacketed Yankees from the War Between the States, very nicely done, even the footwear seems spot on. And, from the end of the nineteenth century:

The medic in the Spanish-American War period uniform is of a different quality than the other two figures, on thinner paper, but a tad more realistically rendered. I am also fortunate enough to possess a single figure (of the same manufacture I think) fixed to a small wooden base, with the word 'Eng.' written in a childish cursive script, in pencil, on the back:

He can stand in for all the lost games of childhood. I hope his original owner had a decent life, and that his end was good. 

The book on paper soldiers is the monumental work by Edward Ryan:

I have no hesitation in calling Mr Ryan's book a work of scholarship, and from the author description in my 1995 edition, one might expect no less. Born and raised in New York City, educated at Yale, four years at sea with the United States Navy, 1940-1944, then Naval Intelligence and the CIA during the Cold War; retired to Maryland. Old school, one could say. 

It is late (11.15 pm), my pipe is burning low, so I will return to my fireside and continue with John Biggins' A Sailor of Austria. I have His Grace, the Duke of Tradgardland, to thank for this find, and the happy knowledge that there are three more novels in the series. My thanks.


  1. A most enjoyable post- there are come super Danish paper soldiers on the Chakoten webpage which I have always fancied printing off.
    I have use the 15mm modern ones ( doownloadable from the web) in my gaming and they are great fun- a cheap way into a new period.
    Your post reminds me of the soldiers on the back of cereal packets in the mid 1960s which I avividly cut out and collected at the time .The packets were displayed in our local grocer at a great height and he was very helpful in getting down the one I wanted with a new figure printed upon the back.My favourite was the 17th century pikeman.
    Super photo of your sitting room.Could be a scene from the hobbit transfered to the 1930s.Sturdy brogues too I see. I am in light walking boots much of the time to support my dodgy foot. I am so glad you are enjoying the novel and you with some fLW figufes of the period too just waiting for comrades in arms..

    1. Yes, I remember those fellows too! The knights series stick in my mind - they seemed to be a very good representation of the development of armour. For some reason, I took my carefully cut out figures into primary school, and they stood in a row on the top of a cupboard.
      As for my/our room (we have only one downstairs - the house is a 1930s terrace that has been knocked through), yes, I do, indeed, live a Hobbity life in it. Once, to quote a Hal Hartley film, I wanted 'to be awed by my own achievements, and be loved by beautufil women'. Now, I'm happy to warm my gardening shoes by the fire!

  2. There are very nice illustrations and I love seeing uniforms from that period.

    1. Yes, they strike me as being very accurate. I have some rolls of French paper soldiers from the 19th Century, and they are pretty spot on too.