Posted by Martin on May 24, 2011
No. 15: Officer, 1813, 5th (Brandenburg) Regiment of Dragoons.
Back in 2009, you may recall that I experimented with photographing a Prussian Landwehr drummer from a set of cigarette cards. At the time, I had it in mind to photograph the whole set and post them here on BfK but I never got round to it because I had white balance issues with the photographs. Recently, we upgraded our printer at BfK HQ to a swanky new wireless one that can also be used as a scanner. So, tonight, I dropped another one of the cards from the set under the scanner to see how it would turn out. I’ve got to say that the results are excellent and incredibly quick and easy to achieve.
So, for the record, this is card no. 18 of a set of 24 entitled “Napoleonic Uniforms” from Doncella (a division of John Player and Sons, Imperial Tobacco Limited). The set was issued in 1980 and it was probably actually issued with cigars rather than cigarettes. For your interest the blurb on the back of the card reads:
The painting from which this study is taken is entitled ‘Aftermath of the Peoples’ Battle of Leipzig, 16-19th October 1813′. It shows a mixed group of civilian and uniformed figures resting, tending the wounded and embracing each other after three days of intensive, close-quarter fighting in the streets of the city, at the end of which Napoleon was forced to withdraw across the Elbe to avoid encirclement. The officer polishing his sword wears a single-breasted ‘leibrock’ in the distinctive light blue of the Prussian dragoon regiments, with the standard grey overalls (trousers) worn by all ranks and a cloth cap, or feldmutze, often worn on campaign in place of the heavier shako. The cap band, collar and cuffs are in the regimental colour of black.
As I noted with the cigarette card of the drummer, there are some errors in the historical accuracy of the uniform information but the illustration is executed with some panache. I’d be interested to know more about the painting referred to in the blurb, if anybody has details.
Now that I’ve found a quick and way to get good quality images of these cigarette cards, you can expect the rest of the set to follow in due course.
Posted in Photography | Tagged: cigarette cards, Doncella, Prussia, Uniformology | 5 Comments »
Posted by Martin on March 11, 2009
Cigarette card with levels adjusted
A couple of days ago I posted the first results of my experiments with photographing cigarette cards. At the time I mentioned that the outcome was sub-optimal because of how the white background on the cards was coming out grey.
Well, my thanks are due to Pete B, who posted a comment with a link to a tutorial on Cool Mini Or Not (CMON) that explains how to edit the Levels settings in photo editing software. So here’s my attempt to reproduce that piece of digital wizardry for you to compare and contrast with the first image.
Not bad at all – and only a few seconds work. I wonder if an even better result could be achieved when I have a better source image to manipulate.
Posted in Landwehr Infantry, Photography | Tagged: cigarette cards, Doncella, Prussia, Uniformology | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Martin on March 8, 2009
Doncella cigarette card
Over the years I’ve acquired several sets of cigarette cards on the theme of the Napoleonic Wars. The intention has always been tp mount them in frames for display in the study at Bfk HQ. The other thing I’ve also planned to do is photograph them for archival purposes. That part of the plan has gradually been inching towards becoming feasible. First, with the purchase of our second hand (but nevertheless excellent) Nikon D70 DSLR. Then, at Christmas, I received an infra-red shutter release control as a present. Finally, this week, I bought a tripod. Only one step remains before I conduct a full-on photography session – the construction of a home-made light tent.
However, in the meantime, I was keen to test out the kit to see what sort of quality I could achieve. So, this afternoon, I took several test photographs in natural light by the french windows at the rear of the house.
The image shown here is an example of the results. This is card no. 18 of a set of 24 entitled “Napoleonic Uniforms” from Doncella (a division of John Player and Sons, Imperial Tobacco Limited). The set was issued in 1980 and it was probably actually issued with cigars rather than cigarettes. For the record, I’m not a smoker – I purchased this set in an antiques market over ten years ago for the princely sum of four pounds.
This card is captioned “Drummer, 1813: Landwehr infantry of the Rhine”. Which clearly isn’t accurate given that Prussia didn’t raise landwehr in the Rhineland until 29th March 1815. However, if we assume the red provincial colour and white buttons are accurate, this is more likely a representation of an East Prussian landwehr drummer. I think the shoulder swallows aren’t quite right and the drum seems too large but otherwise this is an evocative illustration and in many respects historically accurate.
For your entertainment, I’ll also quote the rest of the text on the rear of the card:
Although eighteen was the lower age limit for enlistment in the Prussian army of 1813, drummer boys several years younger are known to have marched into battle with their regiments – and on at least one occasion a young girl, masquerading as a drummer boy, died on the field of battle (Eleonore Prohasta, 16th September 1813). Deceptions of this kind were facilitated by the haste with which the militia was summoned to arms when Prussia withdrew from the French alliance in January 1813. Within a few months the army of 42,000 – the limit imposed by Napoleon – was expanded to more than a quarter of a million men under arms, albeit poorly clothed, trained and equipped. These were the men who drove Napoleon’s Grand Army back to Paris, and dashed his hopes at Waterloo.
That paragraph leaves quite a lot to be desired in terms of accuracy but it did pique my interest about the drummer girl’s fate. It should come as no surprise that the card is inaccurate about her too. I think it actually refers to Marie Christine Eleonora Prochaska who served with Lutzow’s Freicorps, She was badly wounded in action at Göhrde on 16th September 1813 but didn’t actually die until 5th October 1813 at Dannenberg where her funeral was held. As with so many members of Lutzow’s Freicorp, quite a lot of romantic mythology seems to have built up around Eleonora and there’s a monument to her in Potsdam.
Back to the photography. The focus and resolution are good on the original capture but these cards have white backgrounds and you can see that it has come out rather grey. I think the light tent and a better understanding white balance will help me to fix this problem.
Posted in Landwehr Infantry, Photography | Tagged: cigarette cards, Doncella, Prussia, Uniformology | 4 Comments »