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Zulu War 24th Foot helmet plate badge
lavagna


Joined: 27 Dec 2005
Posts: 19
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Has anyone seen the 24th helmet badge listed on ebay (item number: 6598962862). I'm not very knowledgable on these items and was wondering if anyone can confirm whether it is an original or repo.
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Sawubona


Joined: 09 Nov 2005
Posts: 1179
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What with the ease of manufacture, accuracy, and prevalence of restrikes, I'd consider that any "collectible" plate to be most likely a reproduction. That's not to say that it mightn't be original, but rather that I'd never consider investing that kind of "ching" on a plate authenticated by even the most noted expert like King. "Possibly a restrike" is a caveat offered with virtually every desirable plate, even by the most reputable sellers.
I'd also be leery of any offering incorrectly described as a "helmet plate" (which it isn't) which looks more like a "last shako plate" (which it is). Oddly, the 1st/24th hadn't yet received the "new" helmet plate issue by Isandalwana and were still using the previous pattern, the same used on the last shako. In other words, this seller has the correct pattern for Isandalwana, but doesn't know that it's correct only because South Africa was a distant backwater campaign? Yet he still wrongly describes it as the later "helmet plate"? Anything more than a hundred dollars investment would sure need some better provenance to satisfy me.
That being said, I've several plates of the same vintage as the AZW (my only 24th plate is the one issued before "the last shako" plate, so it's actually too old to be particularly valuable) and they show about the same wear patterns, patina, and damage (bending, missing eyes, etc) as this fellows offering. So unless this one's been artificially "aged" (which is difficult to do and equally difficult to detect in a photo), this is either original or a very old restrike. That's my final opinion, and if you don't like it, I have others (Groucho Marx)!
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Zulu War 24th Foot helmet plate badge
lavagna


Joined: 27 Dec 2005
Posts: 19
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Thanks for the reply. Is it true that the soldiers used to remove these plates from the helmet before a battle? If so, what could be the reason for this?
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Sawubona


Joined: 09 Nov 2005
Posts: 1179
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I imagine the plates were removed for reasons similar to the staining of the white helmets.... one might as well put a a target on ones forhead and lustily sing as one snuck up on an unsuspecting enemy. Two phrases from the American Revolution that give some insight: "Shoot the epaulets" (i.e.: take out the officers first) and "Aim for the crossbelts" (i.e.: they've put a nice white target on their scarlet chests, so use it)! It took a century more for officers to figure out they were being targeted by the very symbols of rank they were wearing and for the WD to realize that non-descript color chest belts on a non-descript color tunic made more sense than pipe-clayed white belts over a scarlet tunic! The War Department didn't seem to have a lot of sense, but the private soldiers weren't completely foolish. By 1879, regulars in India were already wearing Khaki, but not yet in Africa. Why?
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Zulu War 24th Foot helmet plate badge
lavagna


Joined: 27 Dec 2005
Posts: 19
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I suppose the reasons for removing the plate from the helmet is obvious, when you are facing an enemy with rifle. In, Africa however, they were facing Zulu's who I believe were armed with the odd rifle/musket, but mostly only had stabbing spears. Maybe in this case the plates were removed as a force of habit or tradition.

I contacted the seller of the plate and mentioned your comments. To which he appologizes for any inaccurate info. He stated that he is not very knowledgable on this subject and is listing the item on behalf of someone else. When asked about the history of plate, he gave the following. The plate was found in 1980 in Zululand, Natal, South Africa. It was then aquired by the seller who is a BOER WAR collector and a retired Regimental Sergaent Major of the South African Defence Force 5th-Reconnaissance Commando/Regt. This RSM has had it ever since then.
He claimed that the plate was found in the area of Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift, but was not found on the actual battlefield areas. He reckons it was probably lost during one of the smaller skirmishes or while on manoeuvres.

Do you think any of this sounds plausible?
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Sawubona


Joined: 09 Nov 2005
Posts: 1179
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The Zulu did fight with stabbing spears and shields, but that was as much by choice as availibility of firearms. It just wasn't "seemly" to kill an adversay with "the silent death". The Xhosa and the Sotho, on the other hand, had no such qualms about using firearms and the result was often embarassing for their enemies.
My understanding is that the Zulu by 1879 could arm well over 50 percent of their warriors with rifles (and muskets), but many or most were inferior trade guns (called "Birmingham Stovepipes", I believe). Chetswayo himself promoted the acquisition of firearms and John Dunn for one was happy to oblige. But that's not to say that all Zulu guns were junk, since many of the upper-class had modern weapons, often better than what was issued to the average British soldier. The problem, I guess, was that they didn't know how to maintain them or use them. I read once that they often would set the sight to it's maximum range, thinking that this made the weapon "shoot harder" and therefore would cause more damage! Is it any wonder their respect for firepower was a lesson hard learned?
As to the helmet plate: Seems like something of an "urban provenance", that is (like an urban legend) just to good not to be true! But that statement might be doing a disservice to the seller. Myself? I'd buy it in a heartbeat if an expert with immpecable credentials were to authenticate it in writing, but otherwise, it's a pig in a poke: possibly real, probably not real. And I hasten to add that in the event that it's a restrike, the seller isn't necessarily the "alleged perp" and might very well be sincere in his appraisal.
I know that the 24th didn't wear helmet plates into battle in Zululand, but I honestly don't know where their plates were at the time. In their packs? In the regimental wagons? In Durban? Or back at Brecon? Anyone know?
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Paul Bryant-Quinn
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Sawubona

I don't know about the helmet plates, or whether this helps, but according to some of the letters I've been looking at recently much of the 24th's kit had been sent back down to Durban prior to their starting out from Rorke's Drift.

Best wishes,

Paul
clive dickens


Joined: 17 Sep 2005
Posts: 162
Location: REDDITCH WORCESTERSHIRE
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lavagna
I saw this on Ebay they have gone way over the top the average price for a genuine helmet plate for the 24th or any other regiment would be around 250 they are obviously using the fame of the Zulu war to try a fast one.
Clive
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Zulu War 24th Foot helmet plate badge
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