06 December 2013
Payment for a lengthy translation, completed last summer, arrived finally mid-afternoon today. It's reasonably large as these things go, and I'm allocating it to fund future, and as yet unimagined, figure purchases for the Grand Duchy of Stollen project. Very likely more Minden and Fife&Drum stuff, which is simply too tempting to resist. For the time being, though, I'm squirreling away these funds and forgetting about them since there is already a respectably sized pile of unpainted lead in Zum Stollenkeller. Best to see to those before I go crazy ordering new stuff. However, the Grand Duke Irwin-Amadeus II and Hives are enjoying clay pipes of the finest Virginia tobacco this evening, along with drams of something medicinal, in celebration of this windfall.
First off, here is a Saxon Lieutanant General, looking very dandy in crimson and cream with a silver sash, copious amounts of gold lace, feathers on his hat, and a walking stick.
Classes have finally ended (Thursday the 5th) for the semester here at Stollen Central! And while there will be the usual flood of final papers to collect and read through next week, I've finally got a few days, more or less, to myself for some fun stuff. And then, there is a small vaguely Balt0-Teutonic castle to build and paint for the Young Master, to go with some two-inch high knights and Vikings that are on the way. Might as well get him started down the toy soldier road now that he's turned four, you know. That should not be too difficult since he is fascinated with Dad's own toys over on the painting table, especially the horses.
Next, we have a Saxon Garde du Corps officer.
So, it's high time to finish the ongoing work on a group of three Minden Austrians, which are being painted in Saxon colors. While they won't be an exact match for these lovely Kronoskaf illustrations, they'll be close enough.
And here is a representation of a Major General in the Saxon service.
I've also got a fourth fellow on an individual base to group either with the larger base of the three figures, or use as an ADC, galloping off across the field to deliver a change in orders or something. In the meantime, as I say, here are four illustrations borrowed from Kronoskaf of two Saxon generals and a couple of officers in interesting uniforms.
And finally, a Saxon Garde du Corps commander. The black enameled cuirass and blue silk sash really help make this particular uniform stand out from various other already highly attractive Saxon uniforms.
I decided months ago, in January of 2013 I think, to paint up a few of the then newly purchased Minden Austrian figures in Saxon uniforms to add some visual interest to my tabletop and collection since most of my figures are based on the usual Prussian-Austrian-French models. . . more or less. Besides, it strikes me that we don't see too many SYW Saxon military men in miniature out there. At least not among the blogs, magazines, and books I peruse routinely.
Surely, that must have something to do with the fact that the Saxon army was a minor force, largely absorbed into the Prussian service during the SYW. It's a pity we don't see more of them in mid-18th century wargaming set-ups though. Their uniforms and flags are extremely colorful and attractive, providing a welcome alternative to the usual dour Prussian dark blue. Anyone else out there fascinated by smaller armies like Saxony's as well as the various Reichsarmee contingents?
05 December 2013
Part of the Prussian advance at the Battle of Leuthen on December 5th, 1757.
While things remain distressingly busy for a few more days here at Stollen Central, there are nevertheless a few moments to share this wonderful old print today, Leuthen Day. Of course, it's not quite the same thing as all of those wonderful recently painted Minden figures on display over at Der Alte Fritz Journal, but it's in the same general spirit.
01 December 2013
The yearly Christmas Market in Luebeck, Germany, adjacent to the Marienkirche and the old Rathaus. While I've never been to the city in December, I've spent lots of time goofing off in this very square during visits in 1986, 1990, and 2009.
Today is the first of December and time again for various and sundry seasonal images that catch my eye. While I promise there will be more photos of my own soldiers-in-progress and tabletop battles in the coming days and weeks as the academic calendar for the year mercifully winds down, I nevertheless wanted to kick off the Advent and Christmas season with a few photographs of the annual Luebecker Weinachtsmarkt . . . The Christmas Market as it exists in Luebeck, Germany. I've never been fortunate enough to spend Christmas in this delightfully sleepy old capital of the Hanseatic League, but I hope to one day. Keep your fingers crossed. In the meantime. . .
Another part of the Christmas market in the old part of the city center, this time along An der Obertrave. The Grand Duchess and I purchased some delicious marzipan in one of the shops here during our June 2009 visit to Luebeck.
Another Christmas market in another part of the old town, this time in front of the old Hospital of the Holy Ghost along Der Grosse Burgstrasse.
Here's a shot of the main Christmas Market near the Marienkirche. Doesn't it look pretty? The German word gemuetlichkeit comes readily to mind when I look at scenes like this.
Here's a dark, snowy street scene during one recent December in Luebeck. It looked just like this the first time I visited in Febrary 1986. Snow and coalsmoke everywhere. I even saw a tall blond guy with a mustache dressed in old-fashioned black chimney sweep clothes, complete with tophat and large wire brush attached to a long, coiled cable over his shoulder.
And finally, an advertisement for one recent Christmas Market in the city. Why is it that we always want to be somewhere else where we are not?
27 November 2013
Strangely (for a guy), I really like old-fashioned Victorian and Edwardian greeting cards. Long-time visitors to the GDofS blog might recall that rather odd bit of personal information. Look what I found online this morning!
A day early, yes, but I've got a few moments to myself for another mug of coffee before pie preparation (pumpkin and raspberry) begins in earnest along with a few other dishes for tomorrow and running the vacuum cleaner around the first floor to assist the Grand Duchess. Wait! I'm the one who usually swiffers and vacuums anyway. You know. One of those emasculated modern males. No matter. It gets the job done when it needs doing, so who cares which one of us wears the pants when it comes to domestic duties? Not me.
In any case, please allow me to wish all American visitors to The Grand Duchy of Stollen blog, wherever in the world you might find yourselves, a very. . . Happy Thanksgiving! May your day tomorrow be filled with family, friends, fun, and delicious food. We do indeed have a great deal to be thankful for in whatever form our respective lives take, something that is all too easy to forget in the hustle and bustle of the 21st century.
21 November 2013
I'm afraid that my lack of painting opportunities the past few months are to the far right here!
Sooner, or later, I suppose it happens to everyone in the miniatures painting and (war-)gaming hobby. Real life gets in the way early on and will not budge and get out of the blasted way. You know? Kind of like when you are racing to make a connecting flight across a large airport in another terminal building, and you get stuck behind someone with lots of carry-on baggage and numerous drifting children on one of those moving sidewalk thingies. But the people who are walking over to your right or left, those smart souls who chose the old-fashioned method of simply walking on the non-conveyered tiled floor, are zipping by at a much faster rate. It's simply maddening when you think about it too much. Know what I mean?
Anyway, that is what has happened during the last few months, as the autumn term has worn on, here at Stollen Central. The sheer number of student drafts and final papers for my three writing intensive courses this semester have come at such a pace and been so relentless that, very frankly, I have simply lacked the mental energy by the end of the day to fathom picking up a paintbrush most evenings or weekends. And the work has even intruded upon bedtime reading, which is the usual method of escape for a couple of hours most late evenings before turning out the bedside lamp. Grumble, grumble. Whimper, whimper.
Oh, sure. I've done dribs and drabs of brushwork here and there in tiny fits of paniced energy as the water has risen to first to me chest, chin, and then nose. But of the 20 or so Fife&Drum, Minden, and RSM95 mid-18th century generals and staff officers I pledged to complete in the current painting challenge between my collection of wargaming friends and acquaintances, I have only managed to finish two. Almost. The rest remain silently and steadfastly at the ready, still in their two coats of white basecoat on the painting table behind me here in Zum Stollenkeller.
Still, chin up, eh? The nice, long American Thanksgiving holiday weekend is just about here, and things will calm down once classes conclude at the end of the first week of December. That should give me a bit more time than has been the case since late August. And when classes resume in January, my teaching load will be a little lighter. Mercifully. And who knows? Maybe I can get the 20 or so figures currently on the painting table taken care of by Christmas? But enough about my hobby tales of woe. It's time to do a little planning for today's classes. Sigh.
17 November 2013
An Adolf Menzel illustration of a Prussian horse artillery officer, who bares a striking resemblance to General von Terreplein.
A carriage drawn by six grey horses pulled up early this dark November afternoon in front of The Residenz, a.k.a. Krankenstadt Palace. The long-suffering English manservant Hives rushed to the second floor to roust the Grand Duke Irwin-Amadeus II from his feather bed. Meanwhile, Herr General von Terreplein, a former Prussian artillery officer and veteran of the First and Second Silesian Wars, now a newly appointed consultant to the Grand Duchy of Stollen, stepped out of the carriage and onto the front steps of the palace. He was then ushered inside at the quick step. What new game might be afoot? What plans might be hatched? What unintentional alliteration might result? What kinds of unintended Rococo zaniness might come to the fore? What military and regional aims might remain maddeningly out of reach? Who among us can say with any degree of certainty? It looks like you'll need to tune in during the closing weeks of the year to find out.
11 November 2013
A fitting image for November 11th.
While brightly colored toy soldiers, miniature planes, ships, tanks, and military history are fun and fascinating things, it's worth remembering on a day like today how utterly and indescribably awful real war actually must be for the men and women who experience it firsthand. My maternal grandmother told me once about a family in Asheville, North Carolina that lost all three or four of its sons at once because they had been allowed to serve in the same unit and shipped out together. I cannot even begin to fathom how terrible that must have been for that family. Will the people of Earth ever really be able to get their collective act together and stop killing each other?
A related point that also occurs to me today, November 11th, is the fact that I have had the privilege to meet and know a number of Germans, Japanese, Russians, and followers of the Islamic faith from various corners of the world -- former or perceived current enemies -- during my childhood and into adulthood thanks to things like YMCA summer camp programs and, later, various academic programs and pursuits. What amazing experiences those opportunities have been over the years. Without wishing to sound too preachy, life has been made so much more interesting because of these acquaintances, to the degree that it is difficult to imagine killing each other. And maybe that is the key? International fellowship and improved understanding, or at least tolerance, through youth programs and education. If more of us had more opportunities to know each other better, maybe war would make less sense in the future? Which might just make real life playing with guns and soldiers obsolete one day. Now, there's an idea.
28 September 2013
Jim "Der Alte Fritz" Purky, the man behind Fife and Drum Miniatures has taken the reins of Minden Miniatures.
By now, many of you will have learned that Minden Miniatures has merged with Fife & Drum Miniatures here in the United States. Excellent news! Be sure to toodle on over to the Der Alte Fritz Journal forthwith -- don't wait! -- to learn all of the important details. These are two of the very best ranges of 28-30mm (actually 1/56th scale) mid- to late 18th century figures currently available. How could there ever be anything better? If you are a fan of either Fife & Drum or Minden figures, you should definitely learn how the merger will proceed in the next few months, plus you can find out about the longer term plans in store for both ranges once the logistic end of things has been addressed.
21 September 2013
Human and basic horseflesh almost finished. A mix of Minden, RSM95, and Fife & Drum figures. Look closely. Can you pick out the RSM95 conversion?
As predicted some weeks ago, the current academic term is indeed a bear, and it seems like there is always a new batch of student papers to read and grade. Whew! So, finally, three weeks into the current painting challenge, I got off my you-know-what and sat down to the painting table for a couple of hours earlier this afternoon to work on a second round of staff vignettes for the Stollenian and Zichenauer armies. These will be painted, more or less, in Prussian, Saxon, and American Continental Army uniforms.
Anyway, a delightful time was had slopping on oil-based flesh and various browns, which were thinned down with Liquin Original. Now, the real work begins as I take care of smaller details on each base, painting one at a time to completion before moving on to the next. Sadly, we are joining a few friends for supper this evening, which normally would be nice. But, between you and me, I'd rather get into my pajamas after dinner and the Young Master's bedtime and steal away back down here to Zum Stollenkeller to resume painting. You know what I mean?
Later. . .
I was greeted this Sunday morning by the delightfully faint aroma of oil paint and Liquin when I opened the door to Zum Stollenkeller with coffee in hand . The sun is out, the air is cool, and the house is still. For the moment, at least, all seems right with the world.