IT should not surprise anyone who knows me, that my collection of Scouting artefacts would include toys and games. In a parallel existence, I am a toy collector and dealer of some 30-years standing and trade at the country's largest Toy Fairs. Plenty of opportunity then, you might think, to pick up Scouting Toys and Games? Well, yes, if you have several lifetimes to invest in the chase!
The success of Scouting meant that there were many manufacturers who wanted to jump on the trek cart and use its exciting image to promote their goods to a huge and waiting market. Some reputable firms, as will be seen from the board games below, sought the approval of the Scout Association and made very creditable games and training aids. The word 'scout' however existed before Scouting so it could not easily be copyrighted. Many firms, often based outside Great Britain, made 'scout' toys, totally without the knowledge or consent of the Association. These toys can usually be distinguished by their lack of authenticity when it comes to uniform and badges. However, whatever their source, Scouting toys have a tremendous nostalgic appeal and form a link between my two major enthusiasms of old toys and Scouting. They are truly Childhood Memories.
The King's Scout Game
EDWARD VII took a great interest in Baden-Powell and the Boy Scouts. He sent a message to be read at the Crystal Palace Rally in 1909. The King knighted B-P at Balmoral on October 3rd, 1909 and, at the Chief's suggestion, agreed that boys attaining the highest level of Scouting achievement could be called 'King's Scouts'.
The first King's Scouts were to be paraded before His Majesty at a Rally at Windsor Castle in the summer of the following year. Unfortunately King Edward VII died in May 1910, but the rally went ahead in the July of the following year with a Royal Guard of King's Scouts for the newly-crowned King, George V. The illustration on the box lid (shown above) was inspired by this event.
The game exists in at least two variants; both show Edward VII, though the later version has a postscript to the rules:- "NB The King's Scout Badge is greatly prized by all Scouts, as it was instituted by the late Edward VII." I have, however, an early version of the board, shown on the right, where Baden-Powell is depicted in his 'Hero of Mafeking' guise rather than in his Scout Uniform. Although the other portrait is of the late King, this version of the game must have been made during the reign of King George V, as it bears his royal cipher at either side of the crown at the top of the board.
The game can be played by up to three players. Players take it in turns to role a die and, depending on the number thrown, move their Scout (shown above) round the board. They have to try to land on a 'division' that will "award them one of the badges required to win the King's Scout Badge."
As in real life, it was necessary to progress through Tenderfoot, Second Class and First Class stages, gain the compulsory Pathfinder badge, as well as earning three proficiency badges (or 'efficiency' badges as they were called at the time, shown on the left).
There is no indication as to who made the game but its authenticity and use of exact copies of the badges indicates that it was made with the consent of Scout Headquarters. However, the colours and construction of the box are identical to those made by Chad Valley - see below in 'Scouting - A game for young and old'.
FLAG raiding was practised in the army well before the founding of the Scout Movement. B-P describes the game in his book Aids to Scouting, published in 1899 for Army use. However, it was this book that prompted many young people and educational establishment to take up 'scouting' prior to the Brownsea Island Camp.
Unfortunately, I only have the board, so can only guess at the rules. It is probably a close approximation to Chinese Chequers! Again there is no clue as to the maker. However, the board has a picture of B-P and names him as Lieut. General RSS Baden-Powell, so we must assume that board was printed prior to B-P's knighthood in 1909.
Scouting - A Game for Young or Old
THIS is another game based on an authentic Scouting activity - Dispatch Running - and is mentioned in the first issues of Scouting for Boys. Ernest Thompson Seton, founder of the 'Woodcraft Indians', claimed that the activity was borrowed wholesale from his 'Man Hunt' which he wrote about in his book The Birch Bark Roll, published in 1906. Baden-Powell was always ready to acknowledge that he had 'borrowed' from Seton and elsewhere, however, such games of 'chase and defend' are surely 'cultural' rather than specific to one person. Children have always played some version of 'cops and robbers'.
During the Boer War in 1900, one of the functions of the Mafeking Cadets was to carry dispatches throughout the Garrison and, at a Sunday Military Tournament reported on in the Garrison's news-sheet, the Mafeking Siege Slip on May 5th, 1900, the Cadets publicly competed in a 'Message Carrying' competition to demonstrate their prowess. In the early days of Scouting it was a commonplace Scout Training activity that became a real-life necessity in the First World War. At the first World Jamborees there were dispatch running competitions and goodwill messengers were sent using relays of Scouts over enormous distances. B-P later had to remind Scouts that there were fewer Mayors and dignitaries than there were Scouts and they did not all want to be bothered by runners carrying messages! The practice as a training-aid was soon discontinued and has not been a part of the Scouting programme for many years - unless, that is, you know differently!
The game was produced by Chad Valley and can be played 'by a full patrol of eight Scouts'. The object of the game is for a solitary Scout to traverse the board whilst the rest try to move their 'marker' to stop the runner by blocking his route. The game is concluded when the messenger completes a circuit of the board.
Chad Valley is a famous firm of British Toy Makers, making all manner of toys and games. Their factory was beside the Chad Valley in Harbourne near Birmingham. After many years absence the trade name is again making its presence felt in British toyshops.
I have seen a 'Kompactun Edition Copyright reserved' version of this game, numbered 5M/4/10/7615.
The box lid (shown above) states that the game is 'dedicated to Lieut-Gen. Baden-Powell's Boy Scouts' and the image of B-P on the board is obviously from a photo taken whilst he was on Brownsea Island. The game could well have first been made in the first year of Scouting.
Interestingly, the rules are printed in French as well as English showing the manufacturer's faith in the fact that Scouting, even than, had an international appeal.
Jamboree - A game for Scouts
THERE is no doubt that this was made in 1929 for the World Jamboree held at Arrowe Park, Birkenhead. It bears a 'Glevum Series' trademark. The board is quite small at 7" by 12", cheaply produced and bears a map of Arrowe Park. Up to four players must 'trek' around the park on the 'snakes and ladders' principle. One of the 'snakes', for example, sends you back because 'you have lost your stave'!
Though the board and box are poor quality, the graphics are endearing. I would not have recognised B-P from the drawing of him, and the fleur-de-lis, or Scout badge, at the bottom right of the board, must have been drawn be someone who has no knowledge of heraldry whatsoever! The 'pieces' though are a different story. They are well cast in lead on the semi-flat principle.
Three of the walking figures look like Scouts, in that they have navy blue shorts and Scout colour shirts, but no 'Wide-Awake' hats. The fourth figure is very interesting indeed. It is a girl, presumable a Guide, but dressed in green.
One would imagine that the best marketing opportunity for the game would have been at the Arrowe Park Jamboree whilst it was in session, but the poor depiction of B-P is accompanied by the legend "Lord Baden-Powell of Gilwell". As this honour was only conferred on B-P whilst he was at the Jamboree on Thursday Aug 1st, 1929, we must assume the game was made at a later date.
The "Jamboree" Printing Set
THE Jamboree in question is also the 'Coming of Age' Jamboree held in 1929 at Arrowe Park. The graphic on the box lid is virtually identical to one used for a tin 'pencil case' box.
This type of printing required individual characters to be assembled and 'set' within a frame, by using tweezers to slide each letter at a time into a wooden grove. The block was then pressed onto an inkpad and an ink impression transferred onto pieces of paper. The principle is identical to Printing Sets made under the very common 'John Bull' trademark and I am sure this set too was made by them. As a pastime for children this activity lasted quite a few generations and I am not sure if the 'Jamboree' printing outfit was marketed for only the one jamboree. I found a 1937 Dutch World Jamboree sticker in one I bought from a toy fair (lucky me!) - that version has wooden letters - but I have another with rubber letters.
YOU may well know that the earliest jigsaws were so called because they were cut out of a thin flat sheet of wood with a cutting tool called a 'jigsaw'. The example shown here was made of plywood for 'Victory' jigsaws in England, by G J Hayter and Co. This material was part of the transition from solid wood to the now familiar card pieces. Though the image would appear to be pre-war (note the dark blue shorts) I think that these were sold until the mid-fifties.
The Game of Boy Scouts
PRODUCED by the Parker Games Company Ltd., London in 1910, the rule book says that 'The pack consists of 5 patrols of 10 cards each, each card being printed in a distinctive colour'. There are different ways to play the game but essentially the aim is to build up a complete patrol.
Parker also produced these games in the USA, but I am not aware of the production dates. (Parker also produced the all-time best-selling game of Monopoly.) The cards were held in a maroon sleeve, open on one side, which fitted inside a cover open at each end. The sleeve is printed in gold on maroon, the same design as on the backs of the cards. The sleeve also shows crossed patrol flags with Scout hat. The cards were printed in Holland.
PRODUCED by Pepys of Great Britain, this card game illustrates the Austrian World Jamboree but there is no mention of the Jubilee World Jamboree, so it must not have been revised after its original publication date, which research shows to have been 1955.
Each card, as can be seen from the illustration, has a number much like ordinary playing cards. Games can be played with 2 to 11 players who try to achieve a set number of points or build sequences of cards as in 'rummy'.
I especially like the cards depicting past World Jamborees.
I only know of one, but what a toy it is!
'Sunny Andy - Kiddie Kampers' was made by Kiddycraft in the USA in the 1930s. If you can get past the appalling name, this really is a most wonderful toy and deserves recognition on many different levels. At just over a foot wide there are five working figures. Yes, working! They are powered by an ingenious mechanism hidden behind the scenic backplate. A 'U'-shaped tube of metal contains a ball bearing 'train'. The ball bearings run down from the yellow lever you see near the first 'K' of 'Kiddie Kampers'. The ball to rolls onto the seesaw-type device, down its left hand arm and into a reservoir. This movement lifts the other arm of the seesaw, activating the release of another ball bearing, and causing all the figures to move.
When all the ball bearings have been through this process, the U tube on the back of the toy can be inverted to start the whole process off again. The Scouts saw and chop wood and the Girl Scouts (not Girl Guides) practice their signalling.
A wonderful toy - a favourite with everyone who has ever seen it in action.
Youlton's Periscope or as it named on the toy itself 'Obsevation Hydroscope' is one of the more obscure and therefore rarer Scouting toys I have encountered. It is basically a tin cuboid 23cms by 3cms by 3cms with a mirror mounted in each end of the box to enable, as it says on the toy, a man to look through a rock or other opaque object, - of course the word 'over' rather than 'through' should have been employed, but this device was very much a novelty when the toy was introduced around 1909. Full size periscopes were employed in the Siege of Mafeking 1899/1900 and the toy very much plays on patriotism and the fame of the 'Hero of Mafeking' to sell itself. At first glance one could be forgiven for thinking that it was a product of the Boer War and so probably introduced during or soon after the war ended in 1902. Underneath a portrait of B-P however there is the legend 'The World's Chief Scout'. This is sufficiently different from 'King of Scouts', a title often used about Baden-Powell in his army career (see Miletones' Page What's in a Name) to make one think that it is Scouting rather than army related.
The matter is settled when one sees elsewhere on the tin casing another small portrait, a boy in blue shorts cardboard shirt and 'wide awake' hat. This can only be a Boy Scout.
The toy is seen here with its original cardboard box. Milestones
is indebted to its owner Norman Slark of Bolton for permission to photograph the item.
I have little expertise in this field of toy collecting. I have though seen wonderful examples of both Boy Scout and Girl Guide dolls dating right back to the start of the Movement. Their value to a doll collector would depend on whether a manufacturer dressed the doll in uniform, or whether this was provided later by its enthusiastic owner. For our purposes any early example would be of interest, especially if provided with real or home-made miniature versions of Scout badges.
The doll shown here falls into the 'manufactured without approval' category - that is definitely a non-standard badge on the hat - but for all that he is a little 'cutie'. He is around 6" or 15cms high and comes from Japan. Made of celluloid, the doll is reasonable easy to date to around 1950 and must have been made for the Western market, because it does not have oriental features. Given the hat and the staff, it seems inconceivable that this was manufactured as a baby's rattle, however, I have seen it advertised as such, probably because it appears to be part-filled with rice and rattles when shaken.
There are modern dolls, though now obsolete, in the Kenner range (a bit like an Action Man) and, though not technically a doll, Airfix made a plastic kit to assemble into a Queen's Scout in the 1950s.
If you have an interesting Scout or Guide doll, I would be pleased to include an image of it on these pages with an appropriate acknowledgement to your collection.
Dolly's Tea Set
LITTLE girls have always played with tea sets! If this sounds sexist, then I am sorry, but that is the way it was. Parents bought them, so toy makers made them. However, many a little girl hero-worshipped her Scout big brother, or am I getting further into the wet-pit?
Tea sets in general range from high-quality porcelain to very cheap 'fairings'. Transfer printing was cheap and cheerful and the set shown here has the same transfer or part transfer on different items. I have seen a similar set with a different shaped teapot.
Always time for Scouting!
WHILST not strictly speaking a toy, this Smith's Jamboree Pocket watch was manufactured in the early 50's and certainly prior to the Jubilee Jamboree in 1957. I wanted one like mad and remember pressing my nose up to the shop window watching the 'second hand' of the Scoutmaster beat time to the campfire songs I could hear clearly in my mind. I think there was a certain amount of 'mark up' going on because the identical watch with a plain face that I was given for Christmas (what a disappointment!) cost ten shillings and six pence whilst this one, if my memory is correct, was over a pound (twenty shillings).
This is the only example I know of a British-made watch associated with Scouting, but a whole collection could be formed from American manufacturer's products, including pocket watches, wrist watches and watch fobs.
As always, if you have a photograph of a good example of a different Scout watch to the one illustrated, I would be pleased to include it, with an acknowledgement, in these Pages. I am indebted to my former webmaster Mike Ryalls for the superb animation on the Smiths Jamboree Watch which faithfully mimics the action of the real thing.
This last item strays a bit from the theme of toys, and may well end up on a projected page of 'Scouting Artefacts' in this Milestones Series.
I need your help then to find a similar quality toy item to take its place!