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Sunday, 3 April 2016

Peter Gilder, In the Grand Manner, Part One.

Just to show any readers that I havent forgotten about the Peter Gilder ambition to create some sort of readable record of the great man, I thought I should start the damn thing.
 I would like to thank, Doug Crowther, Harry Pearson and Clive Smithers, for their time and patience in attempting to provide me with some information and potential starting points.
 If the idea falls flat on its face, at least I have had a couple of pleasant hours talking to some wargamers that I have wanted to actually speak to.
 But I digress.
 I would also like to state, that this initial outline, is made up of secondary sources, because frankly the great man seemed to have a transitory early wargame career.
 I can confirm that Peter Gilder was employed as a pie machine salesman for a company known as Alberken who were based in Newark Nottinghamshire. [ Its strange that even then, Newark had a wargames connection ] Gilder was working for the company from about 1964, and was employed by two men, called Albert Horsefield and Ken Watkins. [ For those of a younger age, every cafe and canteen used to have a glass fronted display in which pies were put. These were heated by lights, and were a hazard to any greedy boy who decided to touch them.]
 For some reason, Alberken decided to diversify into making painted toy soldiers which they sold in wonderful red coloured boxes, obviously emulating Britains.

Having now seen some of these figures in the flesh, they were a little crude but have a charm of their own. They measured about 22mm tall [ early 25mm figures?] and were a tad stiff, but then this was the early 1960's.
 Although I cannot confirm the assumption, I think it would be fair to say that Peter Gilder helped design the castings. I do remember an early interview with him in a wargames magazine, where he stated that because he had injured a leg and was in hospital,so he turned his hand to making soldiers as he was bored.
  From the excellent Vintage20mil site, the figures are described as similar to the Hinton Hunt Napoleonic's of that time. Knowing a few anecdotes about Peter Gilder I think it would be fair to say he may have plagiarised a couple of figures from Hinton Hunt, prior to him developing his own style. But then without being too judgmental, there wasnt that many figure ranges about so an aspiring sculptor would want to check out the opposition.
Albeken Figures didnt exist for too long, due to a fatal accident of one of the owners, and in 1965, they were taken over by Neville Dickenson who founded Miniature Figurines based in Southampton.
 It was the original intention for Peter Gilder to continue sculpting the Miniature Figurines ranges, but Gilder never produced the figures that were expected, and the pair parted company. [ I believe acrimoniously.]
 In 1967 Peter Gilder began designing wargames figures for the legendary Frank Hinchliffe, who was making wonderful metal scale models of artillery and the like.
 Hinchliffe however could not sculpt the human form and Peter Gilder stepped in to start their wargames ranges.
 A common thread running through our early wargaming beginnings, is how feuds and acrimonious disputes flared up amongst the pioneers of wargaming. There seems to be two clear camps about Peter Gilder, one is that he was a generous and brilliant friend, and the other which seems to be he was a bit of a chancer. Personally its not important, hell even Peter Young used to cheat when wargaming!
 Anyway, Hinchliffe was formed selling the new wargames figures ranges, and lets be right, anyone who wargamed in the early 1970's would either buy Mini Figs or if they were lucky Hinchliffe. Their rivalry was pretty intense as they jockeyed for the growing market.
    I hope to get a lot more detail when I visit Salute in a couple of weeks, where I intend to blag some time with Duncan Macfarlane et al. I also hope to get permission to use all the images that featured in the original Miniature Wargames magazine, that Gilder was instrumental in founding.



 Some kind people have offered to send images of the Gilder collections that are now scattered across the world. I think that it would be a great idea now I have started this thing. So send them to robbie3rodiss@msn.com

Acknowledgements, Thanks again to Doug Crowther, Harry Pearson and Clive Smithers for their time, also check out the great Vintage 20mil site for a potted history of the early wargames ranges.

Just to make everyone aware, I have created a purpose built Peter Gilder blog; check it out and contribute at pginthegrandmanner.blogspot.com 








31 comments:

  1. This is a fascinating project I hope you manage to get more info , Hinchliffe were much better at sending out mail order - Minifigs were bloody terrible - you could wait for months to get your toys - one of the reasons I turned to Peter Laing 15mm , he sent orders out within the week and always sent extra figures and free samples

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    1. The problem I had was that mini figs were sold from a pet shop in Durham City? and Hinchliffe sold from a Pet shop in Bishop Auckland? Neither shop ever had much stock and one always ended up buying something you didnt want or need. How lucky are we now.

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  2. Robbie,
    Good first steps, going to enjoy this. See you at Salute.

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  3. God stuff Robbie. As i said i've been meaning to do something similar for years - you've beat me to it, and i'm sure you'll do a better job.

    Hinchliffe Models started in 1967 but my information has PG joining in '69. This is all way before my time, so i could be wrong.

    BTW, i'd recommend getting hold of John Garratt's 'world encyclopedia of model soldiers' and 'model soldiers for the connoisseur' - both are a mine of (highly opinionated) information on the early makers and collectors.

    Good luck with the project - you can't stop now!

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    1. Thanks again for your help Doug. I have had contact from Phil Robinson and Keith Rotherham who both were very close to Peter Gilder. I am hoping to meet up with them soon.
      You could be right about 1969, although Mini Figs got Dick Higgs in 1968 and I am fairly certain that Hinchliffe were about the same time. Hopefully I will find out for certain.

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  4. Good start Robbie, looking forward to future instalments. Doug and I will need to sort out a photo session to capture some of the PG figures in our collections.

    John

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    1. John,
      Now that would be wonderful, and what better way to spend a couple of hours. Get it done.

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  5. Well done Robbie for taking this on, I look forward to seeing how it progresses. Rather surprised at the assertion that Alberken figures were similar to Hinton Hunt. I used to buy the Alberken ones from Miniature Figurines as they were about the cheapest metal figures a lad could buy in 1966 (9d for foot if I remember rightly) but they were crude. Whereas HH were much better detailed, more lifelike, if a bit stocky but were expensive at over a shilling each so I didn't have many
    Chris
    http://notjustoldschool.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. Chris,
      and this is third hand so is nothing definite. One of the things levelled against Peter Gilder was the threat of some sort of court action from Marcus Hunt for piracy.But what was very obvious is that wargamers in the 1960's and early 1970's were a prickly lot, with fallouts all over the place.

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  6. Robbie- the 2 differing schools of thought regarding Gilder are not mutually exclusive. I had limited experience of both as I mentioned before he gave me some early Old Glory ACW- before I worked for the company- but he'd pirated them from OG so yes a nice chaps AND a chancer ..... not uncommon

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    1. Alright Andy,
      Its very rare that one meets a person who is all saint or totally bad. Look at Steve Hezzlewood.

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    2. Very ture - but how many wargames figure designers get arrested by the FBI in Rural Pennsylvania - Westmorland County to be exact. I've been there !

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    3. OO[ps pressed the go button early. Don't get me wrong here I've never been in the anti-gilder camp
      Merely relating my personal experience of the chap. There were - and still are- many more less charming and indeed utterly miserable b*****ds in this business. Gilder had style

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  7. As a 'young-school-wargamer' I found this blog post very interesting. Nicely done and I wish you well in furthering this project.

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  8. Good stuff Robbie wonderd



    Great start Robbie wondered how you would tackle it I like reading about and seeing the older Figures I could never afford because you know I am very poor and did not have an a#se in my pants till I joined the Army.Keep going Mate.


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    1. Brian,
      I could only look on in wonder when the figures came out originally,but I used to have two jobs one before school and one after, so every week I could paw over each new release. I got the figures but crashed and burned at school. I still think I made the best choice somehow.

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    2. Know what you mean came as a horrible shock when I joined up at 15 and first thing they did was send us back to bloody school!!!

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  9. Roll on chapter 2 Rob. Ahhhhh! Takes me back. Was the shop in Durham you refer to the one Dereck worked at?

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    1. Colin,
      Its strange how wargaming and pet shops came together in County Durham, I never did see how this happened.

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  10. Actually it was. It was called Applegarths and it was a model shop (trains and kits and so forth) with a small glass display unit containing Minifigs. Mr A wasn't always in a very good customer focuses mood if I remember correctly.

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    1. You mean that old git who clearly didnt believe in long haired youths standing in his shop drooling.

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  11. Hi, great to hear about the project as I have been greatly influenced by Peter Gilder ever since I first came across his work in the 60 in the magazine Miniature Warfare. To expand on Colin's post, the shop was a hardware shop and was in Claypath. I can still remember the battleship grey décor and was assured by the shop assistant that the décor was going to continue for some time to come as the owner had purchased enough to paint a battleship (war surplus no doubt)and there were vast quantities in the back of the shop. The assistant was a friend of mine-and yours-Mr Derek Sharman. as I recall he persuaded the owner to dabble in the model/wargames market. I cannot recall what they sold but I do recall that Derek was to be held responsible for the success or otherwise of the project. I know Derek had a link with Minifigs as I recall back in 1970 (or perhaps it was the second one in 1971) Derek persuaded minifigs to provide him with sale or return stock Minifigs for the Chester le Street wargames show which is where the Durham wargames show first started. It was held in the Methodist Church Hall in the Market place. Why Chester le Street? At least 3 if not 4 members of the newly formed wargames group were from there. Anyway, must get back to the day job.

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    1. Alright Shaun,
      good to hear from you.
      You must remember that I am losing it a bit. But of course you and Colin are correct. The shop sold all things hardware, still a bizarre way to introduce young people to all things wargaming.

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  12. Great work Robbie. Very much look forward to your further accounts of such an influential personality in our hobby.

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    1. Afternoon Carlo,
      likewise I would like an account of how you put together the Gilder Sudan rules. That is if I have got the right Carlo.

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  14. Yes. Hardware shops sold just about everything from fork handles to four candles. I bought a Lamming army from a hardware shop near Sunderland in 1970/71 and that shop sold me the Funken Napoleonics books but recommended a pair of booklets which were incredibly useful and I still use today. The booklets were by Richard K Rhien of Campaigns magazine fame. Thet set out all of the details needed for French Napoleonics including horse furniture and trumpeter uniforms and rank distinctions. Things that unless you had access to countless prints or Rousselot plates were impossible to find. It's pleasing to see that people don't have to bust a gut to find information now but it's sad to see those who either don' t bother or do almost nothing to ensure they have the right information.

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    1. Shaun,
      youre showing your age now. I bought my copy of Anatomy of Glory from Herdman's Pet supply's. God I had to save hard for that, sadly I saw a copy at a bring and buy in Leeds for a tenner! I could have cried, because it didnt sell.

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My 6mm Napoleonic set up.

My 6mm Napoleonic set up.
Austria 1809.

Austrian Hussars

Austrian Hussars
Hinchliffe figures

Austrian Grenzer

Austrian Grenzer
Austrian Grenzer

Smoggycon 2013

Smoggycon 2013
Smoggycon 2013

Smoggycon 2012

Smoggycon 2012
Smoggycon 2012

Smoogycon 2009

Smoogycon 2009
My French getting another beating