Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, with a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that


Tuesday, 4 May 2021

A Little More Paleontology - Shades of Gilder

 Following on from my failure to identify the correct provenance of the French Grenadiers à Cheval in my Box "J" (ex-Eric Knowles French Cav), I was sure that I had some more cavalrymen from this purchase with a very similar horse. Today I found them - in Box "K", which of course is the ex-EK Brit Cav.

Quite a few hussars. Definitely the same horse. However, where the Grenadiers had nothing at all marked on the bases, I found that the hussars did. Since I now had a little momentum going, I also checked out some OPC French Chasseurs à Cheval - very plain - which I had also approximately identified as Alberken. Here's what I found today...

 
Here are the two figures with similar horses - the unknown Grenadier à Cheval (from my recent post) on the left, the unknown hussar I unearthed today on the right
 
 
The bases of the hussars are clearly marked with a simple annotation - "PG". Well, well.

 
OK - slight detour - another unidentified figure, of which I also got a few from the Eric Knowles hoard. The sticky-up tail looks a bit more Alberken to my inexpert eyes - very simple figure - no weapons in hand, no carbine.
 
 
...and this figure, too, has PG cast on the underside of the base.

However, the figure is not at all like the known OPC Alberken Chasseur à Cheval, FNC01, shown here, so what I have is clearly something else. [Photo borrowed without permission from Lazy Limey's Wargaming Place - an excellent and much-missed blog]

So what? Well - not sure, really. I believe these figures are not Alberkens or Minifigs as we know them, but - knowing of Eric's close ties with Gilder - my guess is that these are probably Peter's work. Anyone know anything about these? They seem to be simpler and probably earlier than any Alberken figures I know of - any clues?

22 comments:

  1. Tony, you are becoming an art historian in the obscure niche of historical miniatures. What will you unearth next?

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    1. Hi Jon - I'm not sure what I've found already! Acquiring a big chunk of an old collection, as I have, means that I have walked into the job of curator of an existing museum, and I feel sort of duty-bound to know something about it - in case one of the visitors asks!

      Which reminds me - if I haven't told my museum staff joke here before, I probably should...

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  2. This is indeed a mystery. My only thought is that the mould line oln the underside of the figure base looks very much like an Alberken/Minifig figure from its position and clean casting. Could these be early Alberken prototypes made when Peter Gilder was associated with the company.

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    1. Mark - like a lot of us, I guess, I have a permanent bookmark for the Vintage20MIL website, and I take what they say pretty much as gospel. According to them, a number of the known Alberkens (marked with an asterisk!) are early, Gilder-designed figures and as far as I can see they are known to look like the HH-derived chaps which caused the problems. Maybe, as you say, there were some earlier versions, but Eric had a lot of these - there are about a dozen of the mounted grenadiers, and maybe 18 each of the Chasseurs a Cheval and the hussars, so they were being run off in production runs, however small. I also have a unit of the 2nd Eclaireurs which look like Alberken, but don't look like anything I can find in the lists, and some wild-looking OPC charging Scots Greys, apparently Alberken or Minifigs 20mm, which are interesting!

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  3. Well I'm no help at all I'm afraid, but they do look rather nice, whatever they are?

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    1. Hi Ray - I fear that's my position, too!

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  4. I think the Guard Eclaireurs might be Alberken FNC 4 Guard Scout Lancer. I have 5 of these figures in my restoration pile.

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    1. Hi Mark - well, you would think so, but there's a picture of this on Lazey Limey's blog, and I have to say mine doesn't look like this!

      http://lazylimey.blogspot.com/search/label/Alberken%20French%20Napoleonic%20Cavalry

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  5. The horse looks a lot like the mounts in the Airfix US Cavalry set... especially the pose of the front legs...
    Maybe Peter Gilder drop cast a few and converted them to use for his own armies...
    Donald Featherstone did something similar with Spencer Smith figures.

    All the best. Aly

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    1. Interesting - I'll check these out. Thanks Aly.

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  6. PG = Peter Guilder seems a reasonable hypothesis, at least!

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    1. Hi Peter. Yes - I think we know who it was, and what he did - we just need to know when he did it, and for whom!

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  7. Thanks for posting these Tony, even to a non vintage chap like myself they are fascinating.

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    1. Hi Lee - all a bit of a mystery - maybe I need to go for something simple and obvious. Maybe PG was in the habit of casting figures for his friends before any connection with Alberken? I have read that he started out doing conversions based on Airfix, which rings a faint chime with Aly's mention of Airfix US Cavalry horses - maybe? I'm hoping some established expert will rush in from the wings and blow all this out of the water. Unless, of course, I've already blown the received history out of the water...

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  8. It's at times like these that I realize how little about this hobby I really know. I appreciate the work of you experts. I have a unit of Bavarians originally cast in metal by some unknown enthusiast from modified Airfix French Old Guard, and then further modified by me with new muskets. I can only hope that 50 years from now someone will care enough to look at them and say - "now what do we have here..."

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    1. David, you are very kind, but I admit I laughed heartily at the idea that I might be any kind of expert in this area! My situation, I think, is that I have been a humble camp-follower for many years - long enough to have developed some ability to recognise what it is that I don't know. I am the man from the rainforest, walking round the British Museum...

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  9. I cannot add to what has already been written except to say this and your last are excellent posts! As Lee says, fascinating.
    Best regards
    WM

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    1. Thank you WM - I am only able to share my bewilderment with the rest of you chaps!

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  10. Peter Gilder often offered to dropcast figures for people he knew and perhaps he was given some figures from Mr Knowles to cast up.I am lucky enough to have some cast figures from Peter Gilder that are clearly old Grenadier castings.

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  11. This is a really interesting bit of 'amateur detective hour' Tony, both your engaging post and the comments that have followed.
    Thanks, James.

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    1. Thanks James - this is a really foolproof way to lose days at a time - this must be why I retired, I guess. For a day or so I've been trying to find a decent photo online of an Alberken (and/or PG) Scots Grey - I have quite a lot of these, but have never seen one elsewhere. No - the bases seem unmarked...!

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