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"1885 article on German actor wargaming with tin soldiers" Topic

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pellen19 May 2021 3:45 p.m. PST

Just found this in a Swedish-Finland newspaper (Wiborgsbladet) in 1885 (my quick attempt at translation to English):

"Berliner Tageblatt reports that the recently diseased royal actor Berndal collected something peculiar. Like a true Prussian, says the newspaper, it was a Prussian specialty. He was collecting tin soldiers. It was not rare to find him on the floor crouching over a thousand little tin soldiers, who he commanded in field against each other. At one moment a position was changed, another he made a flank movement in short, it was a kind of wargame, reminding of what the general staff officers practice with. Berndal's collection of tin soldiers amount to at least ten thousand."

I guess this was the man: link (Karl Gustav Berndal, 1830-1885). Wikipedia quotes Berliner Tageblatt, 31 July 1885, so I guess that is the issue that has the original source and might have more information about this man's peculiar hobby!

Source: link

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP19 May 2021 4:02 p.m. PST

An interesting find.

pellen19 May 2021 4:56 p.m. PST

I find it interesting that his hobby was noteworthy enough to be reported on first in Berliner Tageblatt and then in some newspaper all the way over in Finland (maybe they did not have much to write about that day?).

City library in Berlin has an online collection of Berliner Tageblatt that looks complete for 1885. There were only a few weeks between when he died and when the newspaper in Finland was printed, so hopefully the original source is in there somewhere.

Tgerritsen Supporting Member of TMP19 May 2021 7:20 p.m. PST

Eh, it's a niche hobby. It will never last.


Great find!

Zephyr119 May 2021 8:43 p.m. PST

"the recently diseased royal actor"

I hope they really meant "deceased"…! huh?

I wonder where his collection ended up. A thousand minis is a small number for some of us these days, but no doubt was impressive back in the day… ;-)

pellen19 May 2021 11:34 p.m. PST

"I hope they really meant "deceased"…!"

My typo. It was some sudden disease that got him though. Berliner Tageblatt wrote about Berndal for weeks after his death, but I have not found that story yet. Should be somewhere around here:


Puster Sponsoring Member of TMP21 May 2021 1:52 p.m. PST

Perhaps we should hunt down that article and put him online as the first (yet) recorded miniature wargamer?


BTW: the story is at the given link. Use the second (the evening) issue for July31st. Its on the front page, the lower section.

BTW2: Just read through that article and there is nothing in it concerning miniatures or gaming. As he made the frontpage there will probably be more articles on him in the Berlin Press, but this particular source comes up blank (unless you are interested in his stage performance).

pellen02 Jul 2021 3:00 p.m. PST

Found it! Berliner Tageblatt August 10th. First found it in Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter from August 14th, which helped narrow it down a bit. The newspapers in Sweden and Finland had the exact same text. The German original is only different in a few words, but did not add any new information unfortunately. Can be found on the site linked above.

Great drawing from wikimedia btw, Puster!

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