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BOOK REVIEW

DIE ZINNLAUBE VOLUME 13
By Russ Bednarek

Another volume of the highly acclaimed German toy soldier publication, Zinnlaube has been mailed out to subscribers. A total of nine articles comprises the one hundred and twenty-two pages of Volume 13. As is typical of all previous volumes of Zinnlaube, the articles are expertly written and supported by
high quality color photographs. What I enjoy most about the articles is how the authors manage to weave the social and political history into the story and how it impacted their subject. I have chosen to share with our subscribers a brief synopsis of several articles.

The International Hydroplane Week of 1922 provided the inspiration for the lead-off article written by Florian Wilke. Two different Junker F13
aircraft took first place in two separate air races, despite being underpowered in comparison to their competitors from neighboring nations. At the
time Germany was suffering from war reparations, a struggling economy and poor morale. The fact that German aircraft had prevailed over more prosperous nations became a source of great pride for Germany’s population. Quick to capitalize on
this event the German firm Spenkuch produced individual examples that quickly sold out. What follows is the story of how Spenkuch’s individual pieces were made and evolved into numerous sets and additional related items of aviation interest.

Science fiction character Buck Rogers is the subject of the next article. Author Martin Kremper narrowed his focus on Buck Rogers home-casting kits produced by the Rapaport Bros. company of Chicago. The article is loaded with numerous color pictures of the Rapaport Bros. figures painted
by the author along with a Rapaport Bros. illustrated list of available Buck Rogers molds and contemporary print advertisement. Britains and The Home Foundry Mfg. Co. Inc. items are also examined.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was a popular subject for toy manufacture in the 19th and 20th century. Dr. Erhard Schraudolph examines the work of Heyde, Krause, Britains and several unknown makers in his article; “The Most Beautiful Woman and Seven Little Men “. Over two dozen color photographs are included in Dr. Schraudolph’s in depth examination of various individual examples and set compositions of figures produced which portray Grimm’s classic fairy tale.

Henrik Moberg concludes his study of the Swedish firm Santesson and their production of the Thirty Years’ War with part II, “The Battle of Lutzen.” In Sweden the 6th of November is celebrated as the anniversary of the heroic death of the great King Gustav II Adolf during the Battle of Lutzen, 1632.
In 1901 Santesson renamed their “Thirty Years’ War” series the “Battle of Lutzen”. Henrik Moberg explores the numerous changes that resulted from the rebranding, dedicating two full pages of six color photographs showing different box lids.

A growing distrust of the Germans by Russia since 1878, and France’s quest to somehow regain its’ status as a European power after their disastrous defeat in the Franco Prussian War resulted in their alliance of 1892. As a result of the alliance, “all things Russian” became vogue in France.

The French company C.B.G. was quick to exploit the Russia craze. The Russian Chevalier Guards,
Cossacks, the mitre capped Pavlov Lifeguards along with line infantry sets soon appeared on the shelves at 32 rue Charlot. In addition to these sets of figures, several dramatic diorama boxes were produced. These impressive boxes normally had three or four tiers which the figures and accompanying vehicles and scenic pieces were tied to. A paper strip depicting a countryside, urban or other appropriate setting was glued to the back of the box creating a scenic background. The boxes portrayed
current events such as the Tsar’s visit to Paris in 1896, President Faure’s 1897 trip to Russia, and other events. The six different sets in five different sizes produced in 1897 proved to be extremely popular, as sales records show that during the latter months of 1897 1600 examples were sold. Author Martin Schabenstiel shares several examples of these CBG boxes in addition to two similarly themed boxes produced by the French firm Roussell & Dufrien.

The remaining two articles examine the use of taxis during the Battle of the Marne 1914, and Part II of Dr. Erhard Schraudolph’s, “Swedish Kings in Tin”. Some splendid examples of Mignot taxis and a very nice set created by US maker Bill Hocker, along with some impressive Holger Eriksson mounted kings are sure to delight readers right to the end of this edition of Zinnlaube.

If you are not already a subscriber, I urge you to do so. The quality of research, writing and color photographs are outstanding and any toy soldier collector will enjoy this publication. A subscription for US readers is 27 Euros which includes mailing. You may contact Zinnlaube be emailing them at: Die.Zinnlaube@gmx.de


TOY SOLDIERS – BUILDING AND REFINING A COLLECTION
By Simon Clark

This book is written as a primer for toy soldier collectors. It provides a brief history covering the period
from the late 19th century right up to the 21st century.

It is well written and an easy read, providing a good introduction to the subject. There are 175 well illustrated pages, including a good index. This is a colourful, nicely laid out and copiously illustrated guide to the world of toy soldiers and related figures and toys. The illustrations are based on images taken from Vectis Auctions’ enormous library of pictures.

The book focuses primarily on Britains and British production, although other makers are also covered. It highlights the reasons why so many collectors get hooked on these miniature representatives
of military history and so many other aspects of human activity.

It’s coverage of the topic is comprehensive, covering all the main areas that one would expect. It leads the reader from the early origins of toy soldiers to the socalled ‘golden age’ of the 1930s, then through the austerity of World War II and early post-war years to the plastic revolution of the 1960s. It then considers the reintroduction of the traditional toy soldier in the 1980s and 90s (“new” toy soldiers) and the emergence of the bespoke military miniature and commercial connoisseur ranges by King & Country, First Legion and others, before considering the future of the toy soldier as the 21st century unfolds. It has some very useful advice for new collectors, but there is not much new information or too many surprises for established collectors.

Where it is on less certain ground is when it delves into “Special” orders. It begins on firm enough ground, discussing Britains willingness to supply figures to special order, encouraged by the British Model Soldier Society in the 1930s, as well as the development of a market for connoisseur one-off figures produced by masters such as Courtenay, Ping and many more. The special orders placed by many Department stores to tailor their offers to meet particular customers’ needs is also well established. Hamleys, FAO Schwartz and other stores commissioned Britains and other manufacturers to produce sets not included in their standard catalogues. This included such well-known examples as Marine Colour Party for Hamleys and a few other sets. Undoubtedly, Gamages, like many other department stores commissioned Britains and other manufacturers to produce customised sets for them.

However, the book strays into the world of fantasy on pages 46-48, when it describes the so-called, special commissions for Gamages, produced by in-house painters and sculptors, stretching back to before World War 1. As far as I am aware, and having consulted with experts such as James Opie, Joe
Wallis and Norman Joplin, there is no compelling evidence that such a service ever existed. It is obvious
that there is (and was) a market for special commissions to produce one-off sets, filling gaps left by
Britains and others, but the identity of the maker/painter of such sets remains unconfirmed.

All this raises some interesting questions about How to define “Specials”, a topic to which I hope
to return to in a future issue of this magazine!

All said, a good read as long as you take the sections noted with a large pinch of salt!

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