Lost and Found

In the search for information about dummy boards, over the years, I must have read hundreds of books, articles, papers, magazines and museum catalogues.

Not to mention private letters and historical documents, posters and trade cards. These are adverts rather like the business card of today, which told the public what you did and where you were. For example: – ” At the fign of the Fwan and Garter, { Mmm – that makes a good image!} near Tower Ditch, liveth Petroc Fisher, upholfterer, who felleth The Fineft and Beft work in couchef and bedf workf. Canopief a fpeciality. The Oldeft fhop. “- For f read s…of course in that far off day they didn’t not fpeak properly!

Here is another one ( from the mid 18th century) who can’t tell the difference between an F and an S ! ๐Ÿ˜‰

In the courfe of those perambulationf through written hiftory,( oh forryhistory – it gets a habit- too much staring at old texts ), I have come across quite a few references to, and sometimes old photos of dummy boards that when you search for them, can no longer be found in the places they were last seen.

What a find this one would be.

The mid 17th century Canterbury sweeper last seen in the 19th century at the Deanery at Canterbury Cathedral and photographed then.

Sadly, we can’t find her.

It’s quite surprising how many still are in the place they were made for or are knocking around in the same location as they were for example, in the 19th century. So for an historical detective like me ๐Ÿ™‚ it’s quite fun to go digging in the archives, following it up with a real life visit or a virtual one ( thank Heavens for computers and e mail!) to see what can be found

Sometimes the most amazing things happen.

I’d like to share one of these ‘happenings’ with you today.

As you know, soldiers are quite a large group of dummy boards. They range through the huge like George at Canons Ashby in Northants. U.K. ( see Just Hangin’ Around. ) or this fine 7 ft. tall early 18th century Grenadier in The Clandon House Collection in the U.K.

One of The Clandon House Grenadiers... and friend.

to this kind of little soldier in private collection in the U.K. just three feet high.

Little soldier in private collection in the U.K. approx 3 ft.

It seems just about every regiment was depicted and every age made them, from the beginning of the art form in the 17th century to the modern day.

Whilst thumbing through a 19th century document about some British military dummy boards, I came across this contemporary reference.

…there are about a dozen picture board dummies of soldiers set up in various parts of the monastery at St. Florian near Lintz in Austria on the shores of the Danube. These were placed close to the wall to fool visitors into thinking that they were the real thing. .

The first thing I wanted to do was to contact the Monastery ( if it was still there of course -) and see if the figures were still in the building.

The Monastery was. They weren’t. Disappointing. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

That is often the lot of the dummy board detective. Sometimes, however , we just need to wait and have patience. Eight years later………….and a couple of months….

…..some very fine gentlemen, 19th century Austrian soldier figures, appeared on the net, for sale at an antique shop in London.

Austrian uniforms, right period. Not the right place but never mind.

Were these some of my lost St. Florian figures? Back tracking- and we do a lot of that and further research suggests they may well be! Brilliant…worth all the effort!

Only two of them mind you. One wonders where the rest have gone.

The Lost Austrian Soldiers?

A little bit difficult to lose a regiment of 7 foot soldiers don’t you think?

If anyone sees them hanging around anywhere… could you let me know. ๐Ÿ™‚

4 Responses to “Lost and Found”

  1. Bon's Mots Says:

    Terrific post! You are the Countess Anastasia Ashby de la Zouche of Dummy Boards!

  2. pastmastery Says:

    For those that aren’t ‘in the know’… the Countess is a character in a series of books by Fidelis Morgan , which Bonnie and I adore!
    She is a most unlikely 17th c. sleuth….find out more at

    I may be akin to a 17th century detective. I don’t wear white lead makeup and an orange wig though….well… not often ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Jean Day Says:

    Isn’t that sad when historial dummy boards go missing. Very interesting, as are all of your blogs.

  4. pastmastery Says:

    Thanks Jean….I try to make my subjects interesting ….and fun.
    Yes it is sad. We can’t guess how many really lovely dummy boards have been destroyed over the centuries. But I’m doing my best to recover some of the lost ones…. more about this today.

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