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16/05/11

What we have here is a fascinating collection of antique police truncheons. 

Highlight of the Two Day sale at The Canterbury Auction Galleries.

A fascinating collection of Georgian and Victorian police tipstaves and painted wooden truncheons collected by a Kent man over a period of 40 years is the undoubted highlight for collectors attending the Two Day sale of fine art and antiques at The Canterbury Auction Galleries on Tuesday and Wednesday May 24-25.

The collection was amassed by Mr. Brian Sharp, a retired insurance broker aged 81, who owns an antique shop in Wye, near Ashford. A collector first and the dealer second, he first became interested in truncheons as a spin-off from collecting insurance fire marks. In those days, insurance companies had their own fire brigades and would fight fires only in those buildings covered by their particular company.

A few companies also employed policemen firefighters, but only three examples of the truncheons they used are known to exist, two of which are in the Chartered Insurance Institute Museum. In his bid to find others, Mr. Sharp amassed a collection of more than 350, but the firefighter's truncheon eluded him.

That collection was dispersed a few years ago, Mr. Sharp retaining the best 24 examples, which are now to be sold in the Canterbury auction. They are expected to raise a total of £5,000

Among the most valuable is a rare George IV named example, the handle of which is branded “Constable S. West”, who served in the Queens Square police station in the City of Westminster. Decorated with a crowned royal coat of arms, and labelled “Queen Sqr” and “No. 4”, it is estimated at £400-600. A William IV truncheon labelled "Braughing Constable" is estimated at £200-300.

Of local interest, a William IV Dover Police truncheon is decorated with a crowned coat of arms and the initals “WR” and worded “Dovor”, the old way of spelling the south coast port, while a Warwickshire Police truncheon, No. 3, by Field, 59 Leman Street, decorated in colours and gilt with crowned royal coat of arms is worded “Warwick Shire Constable”. Each is estimated at £150-200. An unusual late Victorian/early 20th century example by A.C. Riome has a brass whistle inset into its handle. It is estimated at £100-150.

Tipstaves and painted ceremonial truncheons were used for ceremonial purposes and also to denote positions of office. Mr. Sharp's collection includes an example decorated with the royal coat of arms and the Arms of the City of Cambridge which is worded "Alderman WP Spalding JP, Mayor Cambridge 1908-9-10". It is estimated at £200-300, as is rare early 19th century turned wood and painted tipstaff from The Tything of Fyfield, which is worded indistinctly “Hed. of Elsturub Ever??w”.

A 19th Century brass and turned wood tipstaff of the “Inspector of Portsmouth Police and Fire Brigade” is engraved with a shield pattern crest and No. 6, with cast brass crown pattern screw-on cover and brass cylindrical and turned hardwood handle. It is estimated at £150-200

Not all truncheons were used by policemen. A rare early 19th century green-painted truncheon decorated in gilt with the figure of a lady seated at a spinning wheel is worded "As Dry As Dust, Pay You Must, for in this Shop There Is No Trust". It is estimated at £200-300

The collection will be on view alongside the fine art, antiques and collectables from various owners at the auctioneer’s Station Road West salerooms on Saturday May 21 from 10am to 4pm; Sunday May 22 from 12 noon to 4pm; Monday May 23 from 10am to 7pm and on the morning of the sales from 8.30am. For further information, please contact the auctioneer on 01227 763337.

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