Above is a pic of Lt. Colonel James Galbraith, Regimental Colour in hand, alongside Bobbie the regimental dog and some of the other "Last Eleven" survivors of the 66th (Berkshire) Regiment, making their last stand in one of the walled gardens just South of Khig village, a few miles West of the Afghan town of Maiwand.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Discovering the Brown Military Collection... at Brown University

Towards the end of August my entire family left Los Angeles for the East Coast.  The main reason for the trip was to drop our 18 year-old son off at Cornell in upstate New York so he could begin his college career, but we spent the following week visiting five other schools in Massachusets, Connecticut and New York which our 15 year-old daughter, who has just started her Sophmore year of high school, is interested in possibly attending.  Amongst these other schools was Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.  I'd been to Providence many years ago but before never visited the Brown campus.  Soon after the start of our tour, the student guide pointed out the John Hay Library building -- which I rightly assumed was named for Theodore Roosevelt's Secretary of State -- and mentioned in passing that it housed, quote, "...the largest collection of toy soldiers in the world." 

?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Excuse me????  The what?!?!?!?!?!

That one took me completely by surprise.  My wife and both my daughters instantly shot me knowing looks that said: Did you hear that?!

Needless to say, an hour later, after completing our tour of the very beautiful Brown University campus, I made a beeline for the John Hay Library, accompanied by my older daughter, who like me was intrigued by the idea of visiting "the largest collection of toy soldiers in the world"...

And... it's sort of true.

In fact it's the Anne K. Brown Military Collection, which I had heard of before.  I had not however realized it was the same "Brown" as Brown University, nor that the collection was housed on the school's campus.

The collection includes a great deal more than its many Toy Soldiers -- all sorts of military themed visual art including paintings, prints, cartoons, propaganda posters, etc., photographs, rare books and manuscripts, even old military sheet music, as well as a major collection of swords.  However, it does also include a very large collection of Toy Soldiers, housed on the library's top floor, which my daughter and I took the elevator to visit while time was running out, as we had less than an hour until closing time...

Well, I must report that I am very happy my daughter wanted to visit Brown University!  I've been a fan of John Hay since I ws ten years old in 1975 and went to the movies to see him played by John Huston in the John Milius written and directed classic, "THE WIND AND THE LION" -- which remains my favorite movie of all time.  Most would agree the real John Hay he was an excellent Secretary of State and also that the monumental biography of Abraham Lincoln which he co-authored set the foundation for the view most Americans and most of the world still hold of President Lincoln, who Hay knew and worked for in the White House throughout the Civil War... but I had no idea the Library which bears his name is home to thousands of miniature toy soldiers.

With that said, I am going to switch from words to pictures and simply load up the images, which needless to say I hope you enjoy...


The John Hay Library...


The John Hay Memorial in the lobby...




...and the all-important contents of the 5th Floor:

(as always, CLICK on the photos below to enlarge for a better view...)




































































The Royal Marines marching band, the plastic Britain's Ltd. version of which was the first unit of toy soldiers in my own personal collection, given to me by my parents when I was... probably 6 or 7 years old, probably in connection with going to see them perform live at Madison Square Garden, together with a Highland regiment, which might have been the Black Watch...






A British WWI anti-aircraft unit complete with Barrage Balloon...


...and searchlights:





















A special figure commissioned by The Company of Military Collectors & Historians...










The original collector, Anne S.K. Brown...


























An incredible collection of Edwardian Anglo-Indian civilian and military figures and backgrounds...




























A couple of panorama pics of the entire Indian collection...







The ubiquitous Polish Winged Hussar (every collection must have at least one!)...



If you look very closely you can glimpse my older daughter's reflection in the showcase below...







As I said it was quite a collection.  To be completely honest I'm not certain it qualifies as "the largest collection of toy soldiers in the world" -- or even in this country -- but it is without question a very impressive collection, worthy of repeated visits.  Founded in 1764, Brown is the seventh oldest college in the United States.  Since 1969 it's been known for its open curriculum, with no credit or course distribution requirements, which is said to make students "the architects of their own syllabus".

Well, if my daughter should happen to end up attending Brown, I know for a fact that her syllabus will include multiple visits to the Anne S.K. Brown Collection at the John Hay Library!

In case you're interested in learning more about the collection -- which is availble for use by interested parties looking to do research -- here's a handy link to their website:


And here's a link to what I found to be a particularly interesting "Online Exhibit" presented by the Collection, entitled, QUEEN VICTORIA’S CHRISTMAS GIFT TO JOHN BROWN, 1870.


-- which presents a folio on the "Highlanders of Scotland" given by Queen Victoria to her personal attendent and companion in the years after her husband's death, John Brown.

That's it for now but I hope to be back with an actual Battle Report re: a play-test of the Charasiab scenario fought over the completed terrain layout in the near future...






2 comments:

  1. What a fantastic collection. I had a few Royal Guardsmen back in my day and displayed them with pride...not sure where they went too after my younger brother took over my room 14 yrs later....

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  2. Thanks for your comment, Vinnie -- and my sincere sympathy on the loss of your childhood garrison!

    Luckily I still have mine, though they're all stashed in a box in my gaming storage closet. I should make time to dust them off and make room for them in my display cabinet.

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