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  #1  
Old 24-01-17, 06:52 PM
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Peter Brydon Peter Brydon is offline
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Default Self Help.

Whilst I appreciate that a lot of new members post on the Forum asking for identification ( and often valuations) of fairly common items which I don't have problem with and hope they will continue, I would recommend that anyone taking up the hobby of collecting militaria/military history as a long term interest, could do no better than to obtain a couple of basic ( inexpensive ) books on the particular aspects of the subject that they are especially interested in.

These books often provide a good background on the history of the British Army and its insignia and provide valuable clues to help in identifying unknown items. I still refer on a regular basis to many of the books I bought when I first started with the interest.

Notwithstanding the above, to me ,those posts seeking to identify previously unknown items of insignia are amongst some of the most interesting on the Forum.

P.B.
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Last edited by Peter Brydon; 24-01-17 at 06:57 PM.
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  #2  
Old 24-01-17, 09:33 PM
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I fully appreciate what you are saying Peter. Books dont always provide the answer to the query,and we know the majority of books contain errors in one form or the other.
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  #3  
Old 24-01-17, 09:44 PM
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I agree with you Peter, but authenticity can't be got from a book.
Andy
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  #4  
Old 24-01-17, 09:48 PM
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It depends on what kind of book !
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  #5  
Old 24-01-17, 10:13 PM
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Also some people are unable to understand things when they are in black and white
David
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  #6  
Old 24-01-17, 10:20 PM
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Default Self help

I've always enjoyed the research aspect more than just 'collecting'. Unfortunately today too many people want the instant gratification and aren't prepared to put in the hard yards. Like so many other areas of society some expect someone else to do the work for them: be this picking up their rubbish, providing them with benefits, or carrying out basic research.

Most good public libraries can give access to K&K (albeit inter-library transfers) and many other reference books. It is so much easier to sit back, switch on a pc and ask Uncle Google to connect me to a forum where someone else has already done the work for me.

I support Peter's view.

Stephen

PS does anyone recognise this ww1 Commando badge worn by my brother in the Napoleonic wars?
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  #7  
Old 24-01-17, 10:54 PM
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I personally think that the books available give very, very little help in IDing fakes and what to look for in them. IDs and showing what badges are out there, yes. KK pictures are pretty poor in my opinion.
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  #8  
Old 24-01-17, 11:43 PM
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I would agree with Peter that some initial research may provide some of the answers. As stated, some people just want someone else to do the research for them. Part of the fun of collecting should be finding out what it is, and if that means putting in a bit of hard graft, so be it. Sometimes you just have to be patient and work at it. If after searching and no answer can be found, then usually a member can point a newbie (and not so newbies) in the right direction or a link somewhere. There's a mine of information on here, and no-one minds sharing that if he/she believes that the person making the query has done some initial ground work.

I would also agree with Phil that very few books (I actually can't think of any) give much information about fakes. In fact, some may be guilty of perpetrating or perpetuating a myth about a particular badge.

David
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  #9  
Old 25-01-17, 12:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil2M View Post
I personally think that the books available give very, very little help in IDing fakes and what to look for in them. IDs and showing what badges are out there, yes. KK pictures are pretty poor in my opinion.
I totally agree. Bear in mind the way some parts of John Gaylor's book has been taken apart, bit by bit by some members of this forum.
All books by definition are of their time,unless they're regularly updated,and quite frankly the B&W photographs in K&K leave a great deal to be desired.
Wilkinson's book had far better detail.
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  #10  
Old 25-01-17, 03:07 AM
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As a new collector, I think I know where Peter is coming from.

In this forum, there are some extremely experienced collectors and I can only imagine how annoyed they might be if another "which regiment is this badge from" question comes up and you look at the badge, and actually the answer can be easily found by buying an elementary book on badges or doing a quick search here.

The black and white pictures in K&K admittedly do not help. However, if someone offers me a badge claiming to be a First World War one and I cannot find it in any of the books (including K&K), at least I know something is not quite right there.

I would have given up this hobby before I even started had it not because of the wealth of information found here and the generosity (both in terms of time and knowledge) of many members who are always happy to chip in with views and thoughts. I therefore do not want to abuse all these if I could easily find an answer to my questions (from books, or the internet).
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  #11  
Old 25-01-17, 10:03 AM
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I have a few reference books and second the comments made about them being of their day. Unfortunately some information published some 40 years ago have been shown to be mistaken. This is mainly due to the availability of information through the internet but also through some dedicated research by enthusiasts.

Personally I do find researching the OTCs and Cadet Corps to be interesting as both are areas which have not been well covered in the past.

Pre 1908 VBs, the Imperial Yeomanry and also WW1 VTC badges are areas where there are not definitive reference books and the Forum has certainly more information on those in the members' albums and posts than I can find elsewhere.
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  #12  
Old 25-01-17, 12:02 PM
charlie962 charlie962 is offline
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A few points from one who has recently asked what may seem to be obvious questions;

-I have a lot of books, all rather dated now, that give me an idea but never seem to provide a clear answer as to where and when. I obviously need to update my library but not yet sure with what.
-Searching on this forum and on google always depends on asking the right question (and knowing what that is). The common items can bring up so many hits that I cannot see the wood for the trees.
-The obvious answer is not obvious until it is pointed out by someone else. Then I can find lots of examples of the same badge!
-There are so many duplicated threads (ie requests of ID on similar badges) on this forum that it is very difficult for a newcomer to know whether to try to pick up an old thread or start a new one. This has been discussed before and I don't have a brilliant suggestion for better grouping.
-If I don't know what a badge is -is it british or foreign, civil or military, cavalry or infantry, I am going to post under that topic 'mystery badge'. There is an awful lot of good ID work jumbled up there. It may be that topic which needs someone to go back and tag or re-title?
-If I have a metal badge which is just an eagle, I could spend days trying to match it. Am I being idle short-circuiting the search and coming direct to the Forum?
-Should there be some sort of template to complete, forcing the person posing the question to provide detail that can then be matched with similar previous requests?
-Hopefully this forum breeds new 'experts' who pick up the baton from the exhausted old hands and are happy to answer the simple queries. I will never get that far but I find it useful to keep testing my knowledge even on the simplest item.
-I am very grateful for the help given so far.
Charlie
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  #13  
Old 25-01-17, 04:30 PM
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David Tremain David Tremain is offline
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Part of the problem too is that all of us can only comment on the picture or description presented to us on the Forum. If the quality is bad - and some are pretty awful - then like K&K it can lead to more confusion. Having the badge in our hand is the only way we're going to know for sure, which is not practically possible in 99% of cases. That and the lack of, or poor, documentation that exists from the original creators or purchaser (MoD, War Office etc), which is then translated into the content of reference books, which suddenly become 'definitive'.

The best we can do is offer an opinion based on whatever knowledge we have, whether based on fact, or intuition. It's pretty much the same in the art world. Experts there disagree. There was an episode of 'Fake or Fortune' where it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that an 'Impressionist' painting was genuine, based on scientific analysis and other art historians, yet the foremost authority in Paris declared that it wasn't, even though the truth was staring them in the face. Because of their pronouncement, the painting was worth a few thousand rather than millions. How crazy is that?

Just about any textbook is outdated by the time it is produced, until new research comes along, which is why some people now prefer to post online, so that it can be easily and cheaply updated. At best, most are just a guide, and with new badges being produced all the time, official and unofficial, it's hard to keep up. It all comes down to connoisseurship.

David
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  #14  
Old 25-01-17, 07:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Tremain View Post
Part of the fun of collecting should be finding out what it is, and if that means putting in a bit of hard graft, so be it.

I would also agree with Phil that very few books (I actually can't think of any) give much information about fakes. In fact, some may be guilty of perpetrating or perpetuating a myth about a particular badge.

David
I sort of agree with what you say David about finding out what something is/putting hard graft in but why re invent the wheel if someone already has the answer? I should say that whether the information is from a book or from sources such as this forum, it can still be inaccurate and, as you rightly say, the myth can be perpetuated UNLESS archival and research sources are consulted, examined and quoted.

If members can indulge me for a moment, I would like to outline my experience of writing a reference book on badges.

The initial motivations for writing a book about badges of the York and Lancaster Regt were firstly, to ensure that the knowledge of badges of that particular regiment I had gained (over a long period of time) was not lost when I finally shuffled off this mortal coil. In other words, to make sure that I shared the information I had and to ensure it was preserved for posterity.

Secondly, to give my son a pictorial and well referenced resource of the badges in my collection (well actually his collection too as it belongs to him as well).

This is not meant to criticise some excellent books (they are after all a product of their time) but seeing some of the short comings of some of the older badge reference books such as Gaylor, K&K etc already mentioned in this thread, I decided to make sure that my book contained:

1. Colour photographs of both front and rear of badges. This would make sure that collectors could see clear detail 'up close' so that specific details can be seen.

Having said that, I didn't include rear photographs of the rarer, shako and helmet plates so as not to give fakers too much detail to work on.

2. Well referenced information from proven written sources from regimental and national archives to back up dates, pattern details etc. I only quoted information that I knew could stand up to academic scrutiny and deliberately steered away from rumours and 'dealers assumptions and made up stories'.

I have to say that without the assistance given by some incredibly knowledgeable and very generous members of this forum, I would have struggled with this aspect. I was and still am, very grateful to them.

3. A chapter on fakes and copies with pictures of known copies to inform readers of some of the pitfalls of collecting. As already mentioned, the lack of information about fakes in most books is very telling.

As has been noted, books can very quickly become out of date and so has mine even though it was only published a couple of years ago. I have now tracked down at least an additional 100 badges/variations that I couldn't include in the first edition and that doesn't include cloth and sweetheart badges (one day I will get around to writing a second edition).

Just to show what it looks like, I've attached a couple of pictures.

Ivan


* Not long after publishing my book, I received an email from a Chinese company offering to reproduce any of the badges in my book if I gave them the dimensions!
Attached Images
File Type: jpg DSC05047.jpg (72.1 KB, 25 views)
File Type: jpg DSC05048.jpg (78.0 KB, 27 views)
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  #15  
Old 25-01-17, 10:47 PM
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KLR KLR is offline
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The notion of "reference books" here is an odd one. Most of them are actually collector's 'collections' with very little real "reference" ! Actually King referred to seeing papers at Didcot - but did not provide (real) references. In fact, many of these 'reference books' were published well before The National Archives (TNA) opened up various WO archives - including the ledgers of the Royal Army Clothing Department which contains an abundance of information for military badges. Further disclosures - including for example TNA WO 32 which has hundreds of specific regiment's data - have been produced by various museums and archives.
Beyond that, the papers of badge manufacturers that give us dates and types - many, for example n the archives of the IWM, NAM and in the Birmingham Museum - in my case here is a great amount in the Liverpool Record Office but there are probably vast amounts of archive data around the country.
Secondly - though this is becoming more common - a proper description of badges helps define types, dates and manufacturer marks etc - with full measurements and detailed descriptions - also contributes to a serious study of badges.
Now that is what I call 'primary evidence' ! There are actually quite a few people here that do 'real research' and - even better - are quite willing to share information to fellow collectors. For myself, I regard my "collection" as a research project - and I'm happy to reproduce (with permission) items from other collections (with full dimensions etc) if I don't have such and such an example in my own collection. I fear that I won't complete my work until after retirement - I'm too busy with other 'research projects' at work.
So - collect and enjoy your badges but if you want some serious data there is a 'world' out there you can get on with - otherwise I, for one, can happily provide basic data for infantry cap badges (I have little data for other units) .

Enjoy !
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