I chanced across the January edition of CountryLiving magazine 2019 which had an interesting gardening article about snowdrops called ‘The Star of Hope’ by Kane Fitzpatrick and Jennifer Harmer.
Snowdrops became a symbol of hope and spring after the difficult winter conditions of the first winter of the Crimean War. They were to the Crimea what the Poppy and the Cornflower (les bleuets) are to the First World War.
“There are nearly 20 wild snowdrop species, spread over Europe but with their heartland in Turkey, and from these about 700 cultivated varieties have been developed … Many of them have been in Britain since the 19th century; one wild species which came from Russia’s Crimea, Galanthus plicatus, was probably brought back by soldiers returning from the Crimean War.”
“There is also a connection with the Crimean War. Unlike the poppy’s association with the blood spilt in the First World War the purity of the snowdrop enchanted the soldiers bogged down in Crimea (1853-1856). The flowers heralded spring on the battlefield. Many survivors brought the bulbs back to plant in their gardens.”
Before I found this smaller 28mm figure I was a bit stumped about where to find a suitable larger figure to convert. I was considering a conversion of a 54mm Queen Victoria figure.
The other alternative I have found in 54mm is an old bashed Britain’s aged civilian lady sitting down, set 5028, who arrived oddly repainted in a job lot of scrap figures. She could easily paint up as Mother Seacole.
The other figure that looks fit for conversion is a OO HO twenty mm Airfix female figure from their superb Wild West pioneer Waggon Train set, sadly now out of production but available secind hand online. One of the figures has a potential look of a tiny Mary Seacole.
I had no plans to complete this 28mm Mary Seacole figure in this FEMbruary 2018 challenge as I had enough targets already. She will be painted at some point during the year or next FEMbruary! When I get around to painting this 28mm miniature figure, there are many useful illustrations of her and an interesting story behind her National Portrait Gallery portrait.
Mary Seacole’s gravestone in London has recently been restored. Her autobiography is still in print, a Penguin Classic. There are lots of Mary Seacole book and web resources, many of them aimed at children, thanks to her inclusion and retention with Florence Nightingale and Edith Cavell in the Primary school History curriculum in Britain.
Punch Magazine at the time dubbed her “Our Own Vivandiere“. Daughter of a Scottish soldier and a Caribbean mother, Mary was born in 1805 during the Napoleonic Wars. Mary Seacole topped the Top 100 Black Britons in a recent 2004 poll.
She might not have many tiny metal figures, however Mary Seacole now has a fine new 10 foot high statue by sculptor Martin Jennings in London, complete with a cast of the ground of the Crimean battlefield where she had her base. It is believed to be the first statue in the UK to honour a named black woman.
It is inscribed with words written in 1857 by The Times’ Crimean War correspondent, Sir William Howard Russell: “I trust that England will not forget one who nursed her sick, who sought out her wounded to aid and succour them, and who performed the last offices for some of her illustrious dead.”
Mary Seacole is also celebrated at the Florence Nightingale Museum in London. She features on their website with some interesting contemporay Crimean prints shown.
and the ‘Celebrate the Ladies Month’ March challenge on the Cupcakes and Machetes blog, featuring a range of blog links from reading female authors to others painting more female fantasy miniatures projects.
Reading more of Emily, Charlotte, Ann (and Branwell) Bronte’s juvenile fictional worlds of GlassTown, Gondal and Angria to look for further gaming scenarios probably counts as my literary contribution to reading female authors.
B.P.S. Blog Post Script
I was quite amused searching through for Seacole figures to find this accidental head and shoulders portrait. 🙂
Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN 8 March 2018 on International Women’s Day 2018.
Having focussed on Queens in the last FEMbruary post, I thought I would focus on slightly more ordinary or achievable female jobs.
FEMBruary is a challenge set up by Leadballoony to focus more on the female figures in our collection as an attempt to be more inclusive as a hobby, along with all the things Annie Norman is trying to do with her believable female Miniatures stocked at Bad Squiddo Games. More on Bad Squiddo below and in my next blog post.
Here for #FEMbruary are a few more female figures from my toy soldier collection, a collection of old and new metal figures with a range of paint styles to guide my brush on my FEMbruary painting challenges.
The WRVS Women’s Royal Voluntary Service was one of those stalwart wartime women’s organisations which received recent and well deserved publicity in Housewife 49, the Mass Observation WWII wartime diaries of Nella Last in Barrow in Furness. This was turned into a TV drama, written and performed by the much missed Victoria Wood. If you have not read the diaries or seen Housewife 49, they are well worth tracking down as a book or DVD for an interesting view of (extra)ordinary women and their families on the Home Front.
and has an interesting wartime history and archives collection on its website.
I have one of two Land Army girls, including this Britain’s figure. Annie Norman at Bad Squiddo Games has featured some new Home Front women in 28mm including some fine Land Army Girls in three collections: working in the fields, armed with shotguns (bunnies and parachutists beware) and at picnic. More on Bad Squiddo in another post http://badsquiddogames.com/shop#!/WW2
Salvation Army bands were once a popular figure for Britain’s and other manufacturers, still highly collectable.
For more modern civilians there are always those sets of plastic civilians for model railways sold online unpainted. This young woman has a 1940s / 1950s look.
Still need to do some work “putting her face on” before she goes out with a serious case of panda eyes.
Another distinctive and smart young woman in uniform was the Nippy.
A Nippy was a waitress who worked in the J. Lyons & Co tea shops and cafés in London. Because the waitresses nipped (moved quickly) around the tea shops, the term “Nippy” came into use. Nippies wore a distinctive maid-like uniform with a matching hat, the clean uniform being part of their wholesome image. Nippies appeared (and still appear) in all manner of advertising and the Nippy soon became a national icon until the last Lyons Corner Houses shut in the Seventies .
Another recurring female figure in hollowcast metal and plastic ranges, apart from the odd squaw or a farm worker, was the army or civilian nurse. I have picked up a range of nurses (mostly in job lots) which could fill a whole future blogpost.
However the most famous nurse of them all is also featured in the recent Corgi Forward March range. Here is the other figure link to The Crimean War, which was mentioned in our last blog post about Queen Victoria and the first VCs. The Crimea is a curious, mismanaged and inglorious conflict that has always fascinated me. There was a Peter Laing 15mm Crimean War range that I wish I had bought but no nurses were featured.
Until the New National Gove Curriculum threatened to remove her and other historic figures, Florence Nightingale and the Crimean War had long been a part of the old National Curriculum primary history syllabus in Britain, along with Mary Seacole and Queen Victoria. I know some weary Primary school teachers who were pleased at the prospect of never having to teach Florence Nightingale again after years and years. However she was retained, as you can see below.
I wish we had done the Crimean War at school.
Florence Nightingale, Edith Cavell and Mary Seacole along with Suffragettes and Queen Victoria are still suggested primary school content for British five to seven year olds:
“the lives of significant individuals in the past who have contributed to national and international achievements, some should be used to compare aspects of life in different periods for example, Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria, Christopher Columbus and Neil Armstrong, William Caxton and Tim Berners-Lee, Pieter Bruegel the Elder and LS Lowry, Rosa Parks and Emily Davison, Mary Seacole and/or Florence Nightingale and Edith Cavell.”
The Corgi Forward March Miniatures limited edition range featured several other women and some handy mini biographies of each figure. They have a simple and attractive ‘hand painted’ paint finish.
Part of a limited edition distribution worldwide.
Few figures exist of Mary Seacole, the Jamaican Nurse and Sutleress who also served in the Crimea, although I have tracked down one recent 28mm limited edition which will feature on a future blog post.
Looks like FEMbruary might carry on past the 28th February this year at this rate.
So there you are, a range of believable female miniatures and female job roles from Nippy to nurse, flower seller to Florence Nightingale, from Sally Army Lasses and Land Army Girls to Suffragettes.
Cakes and tea supplied by the WRVS and the Lyons Corner House Nippy.
More to follow …
Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN during FEMbruary 2018
Blog Post Script B.P.S.
I was saddened to hear that the sculptor of many of the Asset Miniatures figures Alan Caton died late 2015. Asset Miniatures figures like these WWII female figures above are still available secondhand online.
This is based on a #FEMbruary challenge by Leadballoony which ImperialRebelOrk passed on, in his own words: “I would like to propose that we add Fembruary to the list – a time of year for us to collectively challenge the male domination of our collections, and commit to painting some female miniatures for a change…”