14 January 2018

A Quiet Start to 2018. . .

A Knoetel (???) illustration of King Frederick II and von Seydlitz at Zorndorf.


Not a whole lot going on here at the moment in Stollen Central with the usual hubbub of daily life, the start of the new university semester, and so forth.  But I did manage to snatch a few hours yesterday to assemble that pair of French 8 pdr. cannon and begin to sort out the accompanying crews, all of which were given to me for Christmas last month by the Grand Duchess.  These, you might remember, are slated to be given uniforms resembling those worn by the artillery contingent of Lauzun's Legion.  A medium to dark blue with lemon yellow facings and turnbacks rather than the more usual red of the French artillery arm.  I've decided to paint the woodwork of the cannon red with black metal fittings simply because it is a striking and attractive color combination.  When I get to doing so of course.

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I also spent some time yesterday rebasing a pair of figures, Frederick II and von Seydlitz, that have been in the GD 0f S collection for some years.  They were perhaps the first two Minden figures I purchased and painted back in 2010, I think, when Frank Hammond still owned and produced the line. I was never quite happy with the basing job I did at the time once painting was done, so I popped 'em off the old base fairly easily along with a tree stump, a discarded sword, and a piece of wagon wheel yesterday afternoon.  

Following a family outing on skis mid-afternoon, plus a delicious North African tangine, prepared by the Grand Duchess, with couscous for dinner, I returned yesterday evening post-bedtime for the Young Master to attach the two figures to a new 3mm ply, irregularly shaped base from Litko that has been taking up space in a drawer here for a couple of years.  I next applied sand to it, using acrylic matt medium, with brown ink to that a bit later.  

Even later, I sprinkled some finely ground Woodland Scenics grass material atop that while everything was still wet and tapped off the excess.  It's very important, I have learned, to be sparing with grass.  Too much, and it just does not look good.  The end result of scenic basing looks much more realistic when some of the darker ground is allowed to show through.  Blame a book I have on my shelf about model railway and diorama scenery.  In addition, Jim 'Der Alte Fritz' Purky once advised me that command and other small vignettes tend to look better when placed on irregularly shaped bases rather than square-edged, hence the rebasing explained here.  Most of the vignettes in my collection are on such bases already, but Frederick II and von Seydlitz, being one of if not the first such groupings, needed some TLC in the basing department.

Anyway, still a few things to do before I'll call the rebasing done, but ol' Fred and his droog von Seydlitz already look much better, and their presentation has improved ten-fold to my eyes.  Watch for a photo or two later just as soon as the blasted camera has recharged.  

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Post-soldier tinkering down here in Zum Stollenkeller, the Grand Duchess and I finished the evening with some leftover Gluehwein by the fire and, after that, an episode of The Indian Doctor via Amazon on her laptop.  Naturally, we both conked out well before the 50-minute or so program ended.  What a couple of lightweights!  And to think I used to be habitual a night owl within living memory.

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Finally, Otto posted a question yesterday, in which he asked about my thinking -- 'philosophy' is too high falutin' a word -- behind The Grand Duchy of Stollen.  I'm afraid it is not much more complicated than my dreaming up a few minor, tiny and contentious territories way back at the end of 2005, setting the scene in the mid-18th century (very much in imitation of Young, Lawford, and the Grants), and placing them geographically just beyond what were then the easternmost reaches of Prussia, somewhere in in the vicinity of Poland-Lithuania and Courland.  The various ruling families are all supposed to be Baltic Germans, minor branches of more prominent Central German noble families of the era, which lends the entire project a quasi-historic feel.  

The only additional nod to actual history is the rationale that my made-up territories disappeared from the map of Europe during the final partition of Poland in 1795.  At that point, the families ruling places like The Electorate of Zichenau, as well as the principalities of Tauroggen-Fiebus, Pillau-Reuss, et al  either returned to their ancestral lands in Central Germany, or moved on to the Russian court in Saint Petersburg,  joined society life in Riga and Koenigsberg, or they withdrew to their estates and relative obscurity in the nearby Baltic provinces.  However, my ongoing and rather circuitous narrative is set firmly in the mid-18th century, roughly the 1740s-1760s, although it's hard to say more precisely.  In any case, we don't need to worry quite yet about the disappearance of the Grand Duchy and its neighbors from the maps and history books.  There is still some life left in the old gal. 

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That's about it really.  Otherwise, my small armies are based on the Austrian, Prussian, Hessian, Saxon, and Reichsarmee units of the era, and the various military and civilian characters who flesh out the narrative are the product of my imagination, composites really of various literary and cinematic figures, along with a very healthy dose of P. G. Wodehouse, both the actual stories and their televised versions, namely the wonderful Jeeves and Wooster programs from the early 1990s.  It occurs to me that it has been more than two years since I have written any further exchanges between Irwin-Amadeus II, the Grand Duke of Stollen, and his gentleman's personal gentleman Hives.  Another grave error I must attempt to correct.  If only real life would ease up a bit in 2018.

-- Stokes


A map of Prussia 1740-1763.  The Grand Duchy of Stollen and its immediate (and tiny) neighbors are in the vicinity of the upper right-hand corner of the map just adjacent to Eastern Prussia.



Even more specifically, the Grand Duchy of Stollen and it's immediate neighbors might have been just between Riga, Mittau, and Jacobstadt, occupying territory that  was really part of Russia, Polish Livonia, the Duchy of Courland, and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, what I believe was also referred to as Poland-Lithuania.

 
Finally, here is Maurice, Duke of Courland, who doubles as my Grand Duke Irwin-Amadeus II.  Just look at that regal bearing, his noble features, his steady gaze, his impeccable dress, his joie de vivre!


4 comments:

tradgardmastare said...

Do you remember that map from the E v E blog showing all the imaginations as they were in the mid 18th century?

Der Alte Fritz said...

It is an interesting coincidence that Maurice de Saxe wanted to be the Duke of Courland, but I think that Empress Anne or Elizabeth of Russia denied him this opportunity.

Have you ever looked at the Saxon artillery equipment colors? Black wood with yellow iron colors. looks smashing.

there is no reason why Stollen could not have survived the amalgamation or consumption of little duchies in the 1790-1815 era of turmoil. Think of Ruritania in the Prisoner of Zenda. Or, the Grand Duchy could have been restored at the Vienna Conference of 1815 by that coniving Prince Metternech.

Fritz

Heinz-Ulrich von Boffke said...

Smashing idea, Jim! Which cannons would the Saxons of the period used? Austrian? Prussian? Swedish? Their own? Please advise.

Alan, yes, I think so. Vaguely. Once the Young Master arrived in late 2009, I sort of dropped off the edge of EvE and only occasionally think to check in now.

Best Regards,

Stokes

Robbie Rodiss said...

I was re reading Manchip's life of Maurice de Saxe and found the marshals attempts to become duke very interesting. It was just as well for the French that the Russians stopped his gallop. The Holy Roman Empire is a perfect background story for any wargamer wanting to dip his toe in imaginations. There were so many principalities and dukedoms to choose from.

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