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"Plates from Forthcoming Australian Bushranger Osprey MAA" Topic

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564 hits since 5 Apr 2019
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Henry Martini05 Apr 2019 10:45 p.m. PST

Phew! That's quite a title!

When you go to the Osprey site at the moment a few of the plates from this book appear in the banner announcing the 20% off sale, and very striking and colourful they are.

It looks like the plates are organised by subject, too, rather than by colony as I originally suspected based on the cover illustration. That picture is clearly a composite plate made up from a few of the plates inside the book.

There's a plate on police and other security forces, which includes a figure of a military gold escort trooper (in red jacket with havelock-covered shako), and another of early bushrangers.

I'm impressed with the boldness of these plates, and look forward to acquiring a copy of the book.

Also, a list of the contents has finally been added to the catalogue entry.

This reminds me that, on Happy Wanderer's 'A Grab Bag of Games' blogsite, reproduced in black and white is an Angus McBride illustration from an old 1970s part-publication of a skirmish between Aboriginal warriors and settlers. It looks like it could have come straight out of an Osprey book.

Henry Martini06 Apr 2019 3:35 a.m. PST

One apparent error I can see already is that the breeches of the gold escort trooper in the Osprey plate are white, whereas Peter Stanley has them buff yellow in the illustration in his book 'Remote Garrison'. I hope there's a good explanation in the Osprey book for the discrepancy.

Henry Martini06 Apr 2019 5:31 a.m. PST

There's a water-colour painting online by miner/artist William Strutt, who produced a number of eye-witness drawings and paintings of gold escorts, which compares gold trains of 1851 and 1852.

The red shell jackets of the upper 1851 escort identify it as military, and interestingly, all the troopers wear cabbage tree hats rather than the regulation shako with havelock, and all wear breeches of… grey! The lower 1852 escort of civil police is entirely clad in dark blue with forage caps.

The 1851 train has only one cart, while the 1852 train has two, the amount of gold being extracted having greatly increased in the space of a year, however, despite the escort's formation changing, the total number of cart drivers and mounted troopers remains the same at twelve.

Henry Martini06 Apr 2019 7:54 a.m. PST

The Angus McBride painting referred to above is from 'Look and Learn', issue 427, 21/3/1970. Unfortunately it doesn't appear to be available online in colour. It also sits oddly with the subject matter of the article, 'The Fate of Aboriginal People', and its title, 'Aborigines Under Attack' seems at odds with the perspective of the picture which imparts action and aggression to the warriors, who actually appear to be at least equal participants if not in fact themselves the attackers.

McBride also seems to have had a deep interest in Mexican military history; I discovered whilst searching for the above picture that he painted numerous scenes from the War of Independence, the Mexican Adventure, and the Revolution not always with complete accuracy where uniforms and equipment are concerned. I guess he can be excused, though; accessible information on such matters was severely lacking in the early 1970s.

Henry Martini07 Apr 2019 5:43 a.m. PST

On the entry for the Bushranger Osprey on the Berliner Zinnfiguren site sample pages can be viewed. These include two of the plates, which can also be viewed in close up. On the whole they're fine illustrations, my only quibble being that the upper body proportions of the gold escort trooper seem a bit strange.

It's clear that Mark Stacey used William Strutt's contemporary paintings as references for his depiction of the Victorian NMP trooper. Strutt's paintings of NMP uniforms include a rear view of a trooper, and details of his sword and carbine mountings. Were he alive today I've no doubt he'd be doing work for Osprey.

Henry Martini20 May 2019 9:39 p.m. PST

A few of the plates from the book have appeared as thumbnails on the right-hand side of the website entry. One of them hasn't previously been revealed. It covers the military, and oddly, during the period 1817-1832. Why oddly? Well, one of the illustrations depicts a trooper of the Military Mounted Police, a force which wasn't abolished until 1849.

The MMP had a couple of changes of uniform during its lifespan, but the one illustrated is the last of them, so the dating of the plate is a mystery.

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