A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Thursday, 1 September 2011

The Cupboard

I've referred to The Cupboard before - I think I once mentioned that I might do a post on it.

It has come to mind again lately because it is getting to be a bit of a squeeze in there. It was all planned so carefully - I even got rid of my unwanted Ancient armies to make more space for the Napoleonics - but my recent acquisition of an unexpected Pommeranian contingent has messed up the space planning. It's only a matter of time before I start having to employ supplementary Box Files, or maybe Cupboard II...

Once upon a time, it was a glazed bookcase. An elderly neighbour of mine (in a former life) had a huge personal library, and he had a number of suitably serious bookcases. After he died, I was told that his widow would like me to have one of them, which (apparently) I had once admired. I couldn't remember ever commenting on it, but I was delighted to get it. It's a nice, sturdy item, probably 1920s or so, and has solid shelves, 0.5" thick and 12.5" apart - three of them.

When I first got it I knew at once what I wanted to do with it. I worked out that I could fit 2 glass shelves between each pair of wooden ones, giving enough height for standard bearers and chaps on horses (and those delicate games of leapfrog which are always needed to get the right units for the evening's battle), so I got some heavy quality quarter-inch armoured glass shelves made up, polished all round, and fitted them - it was a lot easier than I expected. I was also delighted to find that my unit sabots, which are 110mm deep, fit very nicely on the shelves, two deep.

It has gradually filled up over recent years - the soldiers now occupy almost all of the shelves, though the floor of the cabinet currently holds my Peninsular War buildings (which do not normally do well in boxes). Next step will be some Box Files (no idea why this should warrant capital letters - maybe it just feels appropriate for a back-up for The Cupboard, which has always had capitals). I may put some of the buildings in box files, with magnetic arrangements to stop them rattling around. Bell towers and fortress gates will not go in a box file, but this would still free up enough space to get the planned limbers and so forth a home on the bottom.

Though the dining room of our house is a fairly dark room (this being where the battles take place), some perverse accident of astronomy means that the early morning sun in the Summer falls right on The Cupboard, so - to protect the red paint and the flags - I arranged for my wife to very kindly fit black blinds inside the glass doors. This may seem a bit overprotective, and it certainly means that my soldiers live in a glazed display cabinet which does not display them, which has occasionally struck visitors as odd. I may change my mind about this some time, but at present the troops live in the dark.

The Cupboard has a significance beyond mere storage - only units which are complete and finished may go in there, so "being ready for The Cupboard" means ready for action, and no mistake. It is a standing joke here that the end objective for all my collecting, painting, basing and organising activity is to get units ready to go into The Cupboard, where they cannot be seen! All witticisms about closet wargamers to Chateau Foy, please, on used 5-pound notes.


  1. Wow! I wish I had something like your famous cupboard in which to store -- ahem, display my own collection. Looks great.

    Best Regards,


  2. Wonderful cupboard, and a wonderful story!

  3. I take it the village at the bottom is Narnia?

  4. It works kind of like a Stonehenge then. If the sunlight on a certain date hits a different spot than it should, year on year, you could predict the pole shift, just in time for 2012.

  5. Yes - that's right. In theory, if I spend all my days in the wargames room, I should know when it's Midsummer (and time for my annual bath) if the sunlight hits a particular mark on the cupboard at a certain time - I need a clock, though, and the whole thing is goosed if it's cloudy weather.

  6. I have an arrangement of box files which is nowhere near as grand. Looks splendid.

  7. At the moment, all my figures live in metal toolboxes but they're outgrowing the space. Now that I have the table tennis table in the shed, I might colonise some of the surplus furniture stored there to provide a new home for my armies! There's a nice glass fronted cabinet with sliding doors that could be just the thing.

    Thanks for the inspiration Mons. Foy!

  8. The principle is fine - the whole object of putting my soldiers in a big glass-fronted cupboard was to display them safely and provide plenty of room for expansion without spoiling the house. Now, of course, they are not on display, and the expansion space is running out. They are secure, however, and opening up the doors (it locks) for an interested visitor gives a good effect! Unsolicited advice section: If you go ahead with converting a cabinet for your own guys, take care if you fit glass shelves - my shelves are about 3'6" long (over a metre to non-Imperial readers), and metal soldiers are very heavy, as your tool boxes will testify - to avoid the shelves sagging, you need to grin and bear the cost of over-spec glass. There are few things worse than sagging shelves...

    If you do a DIY conversion on a cabinet, I'd be interested to know how you get on - storage is an under-discussed topic! Salerooms throughout the known world are full of cheap old bookcases and suchlike that would be perfect for the job, and your local glass supplier will be delighted to discuss what you need in the way of shelves for such a project!

  9. An absolutely marvelous cabinet/barracks. I like to have my troops on display but they have to make do with oine shelves on a wall. When I want to annoy my wife (which is rare) I only have to bring up the glass display cabinet that I put a deposit on in a used furniture store. When we came back with her pickup truck, we ended up taking back a desk for her instead of my cabinet. By the time we finally made another road trip to the shop, my cabinet had been sold. (time seems to pass differently for me....)

    Now about the curtains, when I was in uniform, there was always a ceremonial fuss about raising and lowering the flag at the proper, prescribed time.
    Since you wish to protect them from the light, sunrise and sunset might not be as appropriate as it was for flags, but still, what about a little daily ceremony where the drapes are opened or closed while the band comes out and marches onto the table (music from a cd player perhaps).

    or maybe just on Sundays.


  10. I like the cut of your jib, sir - classy idea. Dinner guests would particularly appreciate the opportunity to take the salute to a rousing version of Batterie d'Austerlitz with their aperitif.

    Sorry to hear the tale of your lost cabinet. That's the sort of thing that simmers away quietly for years, and turns gentle people into axe murderers.