A couple of broken metal figures have found a brand new life as Girl Scouts.
These conversions fit well with my slow reading ‘research’ for my Scout Wide Games tabletop project, poring through the earliest Scouting for Boys books and Girl Scout equivalent, How Girls Can Help the Empire: The Handbook for Girl Guides.
I was delighted to pick up an early original copy of this Guides book c.1912 or pre-WW1 version on EBay, much cheaper than the paperback reprint! Other originals were £100 or more! https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_Girls_Can_Help_to_Build_Up_the_Empire
The Victorian or Edwardian sailor suited boy might have come from the ‘bits and bobs’ box at Tradition of London (their old Shepherd Market shop). He had broken off at the ankles.
The archer was a small broken gilt figure minus its head.
The sailor boy was fixed by drilling holes in both feet and ankles with a fine pin vice or hand drill. Small pins of wire joined body and feet together, secured with superglue.
Something about that cheeky face said that this could be a Girl Scout recruit, rather than an Edwardian Boy Scout. I quickly made a tissue paper skirt fixed with clear PVA glue.
I was quite curious to see how these figure conversions would be enhanced (or not) by paint. I wanted an old-fashioned toy soldier look to the faces, along with a final spray of gloss varnish.
And the scout mistress or archer? He started life as a man, then when I came across him, he had no head. A quick rummage in the spares box found a spare pound store figure about the right size. Off with his head!
I cannot find a manufacturer for either figure. It looks on the original gilt figure as if one hand is carrying an arrow. This fine detail may need to be added.
Archery was certainly recommended as a sport for Guides by Robert Baden-Powell and his sister Agnes, who adapted her brother’s 1908 hand book Scouting for Boys into the 1912 handbook, How Girls Can Help To Build Up The Empire: The Handbook For Girl Guides. The ‘Girl Guiding’ handbook replaced this first book in 1918.
The Baden-Powells also recommended rifle shooting. Both boy and girl scouts could attain a Marksman badge for rifle shooting. There was also a section on self defence (jujitsu) as you never knew what you might encounter as a young woman at home or in the colonies on the frontiers of the Empire! Tigers, mad dogs, brigands, insurgents?
Research is slow but enjoyable, being a comparitive reading of this first 1912 Girl Scout or Guide handbook, alongside its predecessor Scouting For Boys. The sections are mixed up and in a different order. It is interesting to note what is kept in and suitable for guides, what is substituted as specifically for girls.
For instance, Baden Powell mentions in Scouting for Boys in a section on marksmanship: “The Boers are all good shots, and so are the Swiss. In both countries, the boys begin learning marksmanship at an early age by using crossbows…”, something suggested to Boy Scouts but not to Girl Scouts or Guides.
Being an accomplished marksman, after the lessons of the Boer War, was also seen by Baden Powell as a patriotic duty for men (‘citizen soldiers’) and good for home defence.
There is no obvious suggestion in either book that women should be armed ‘citizen soldiers’ in Britain, only in the frontiers of Empire for self defence of property and family.
Certain of the original Wide Games scenarios are included for girls; the book often mentions to save space ‘as in Scouting’, so the 1912 Guides book and the 1908 original Scouting book are designed to read together.
Blog posted by Mark, Man of TIN 9th July 2019.