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Regimental Uniforms

Soap has an interesting role to play in any society, either through use or lack of use. A TV genre was named after it. Programmes were nailed together just to fill in the gaps between soap adverts and things have not changed much. Now the wider field of cleaning/grooming products can fill vast areas of shelving in hypermarkets. A rather frightening level of choice is offered and perhaps more than anything this shows how much of a consumerist society we have become. The shampoo (funny word that) market seems to have gone insane. You could boil all this down to a dozen products at most, but we have hundreds of them.

Before I spiral away towards the choice gone mad argument, which ultimately must limited choice because of mis-directed resources lets bring it around.

So what did soap companies do before television had appeared on the scene?

Issue cards that is what. Not all of them did by any stretch of the imagination but one or two did.

Hustler soap was one of them.

It only issued four sets of cards.

'Death or Glory Boys'

I am going to be looking at the odd one out. Odd in more ways than first appears.

Three sets were named simply 'Animals' (series 1, 2 & 3) these were series of 20 cards issued in a flurry in 1925.

The odd one out was, Regimental Nicknames, a series of 30 cards.

In Murrays it has an issue date of 1924.

I have brought the matter of issue dates to your attention on other pages, but there are a lot of pages on this site and you might not have read them.

A great many of the card dates have a lot of research behind them. A good many can be traced via company records, right down to the month.

However creating a card set was not something which was done on a wet wednesday afternoon.

There are cases of sets which have dates given which are just impossible because the event on the cards has yet to happen on the date it is said to have been issued. This is the case with Taddys, Wrestlers and a number of other sets.

Check out this page for more on this interesting sideline to the world of cigarette cards. Well interesting to some.

For the most part though you can trust the dates given on this website, unless otherwise stated.

What has all this got to do with Hustler soap?

Regimental Uniforms has an issue date of 1924, the first series issued therefore.

At the bottom of the card, it states, Hustler Soap Picture -4th series.

You might have guessed from all this I am not a natural salesman. I am more likely to be telling someone about the interesting new dimensions of the cars ashtray than the colours you can buy it in. What colour would you like, Red or Green (the alternate close) or perhaps 'If I can answer that question is there any reason we cannot sign the deal today?' There are hundreds of ways to close that sale but I have yet to see one which relies on tedious attention to detail, perhaps the Franklyn close.

One more thing (Columbo close) which this is the most expensive of the four series.

Those of you with fiendish eyesight and a demand for detail are going to be able to see some spidery writing above the title on the front of the card. Close inspection of this spidery writing is going to reveal the initials RCW.

Most likely this is Richard Caton Woodville, a well-known military artist (1856-1927). He had covered the Russo-Turkish War (1877-78) and also the Egyptian War (1882).

His coverage in the field meant he was recieved decorations from Spain, Turkey and Montenegro and Academy of Palms in France.

In 1879 he exhibited for the first time at the Royal Academy and would do so for many years. Queen Victoria commisioned a number of works from him. His contributions also include the 'Daily Mail' and 'Illustrated London News'.

This fellow did a number of other series (or at least a chap that did military subjects rather well with the initials RCW during the same period). The set of cards under discussion here were issued towards the very end of his life.

I draw your attention to this fact for one simple reason.

There are a number of trade card sets which can certainly be considered as artistically inferior but the general idea that trade cards are all inferior to cigarette cards should stop here with that little review. If Queen Victoria thought he was good enough then I think his illustrations on a set of trade cards are just fine for me. Indeed the illustrations are top quality.

The reverse of the card has some pretty sparse information but there is enough. At least half of the reverse is given over to advertising the fact it comes from Hustler soap.

I am a bit of an armchair warrior, spending hours bloodlessly killing thousands in battles on my computer. At the moment Antietam is under scrutiny. American history would be mighty different if I had been given control. Actually it would have been because if I had to get out of my armchair and start rolling about in the mud and guts of it all then I know I would not find it a tenth as much fun.

So whilst I deal with each of these regiments in my usual flippant manner I am only glad there were honorable men prepared to fight my battles for me whilst Generals in armchairs made deadly decisions.

The regimental uniforms depicted are historical, coming largely from the 18th century which lets face it were rather more colourful than the efforts today. I suspect this is the date the regiment was created rather than an arbitary date. Red was the colour in those days, supposedly so blood would not be obvious, never mind the person wearing the thing stood out like a sore thumb. Those were the days when being seen to be there was more important than staying alive I suspect. These soldiers were only just removed from the type of battle where an enemy was only killable when he was at arms length, bloody and terrifying.

In fact card 29 has The 6th Gragoon Guards 'Carabiniers' derived from the French denoting a rifled arm. This came about because of it being the first British Regiment to be armed with the 'carabin'.

Card 8 shows The Royal Highlanders ("The Black Watch") - Was raised in 1739. On account of its being dressed in a dark tartan of black, dark blue and green, was anmed the "Black Watch"
When I was at school (about nine) the school teacher had obviously run out of things to do and we were having a game of charades. My chum and I had put our heads together a little earlier in the session and when it came for his turn to to go up in front of everyone things were going according to plan. I am not sure what the twisting of his limbs was meant to signify but it did not matter. Up shot my hand, 'Miss, Miss, Black Watch Miss.' We were rumbled almost instantly, Miss, was not prepared to believe I had guessed the mime with such speed and precision and I was barred from subsequent rounds of the game. I feel better for telling you all about this shameful matter.

A lot of the regiments within the army have been subsumed under the never ending defence reviews. It sounds cosy when it is called a defence review I wonder if there are any countries that conduct, aggression reviews?

I confess I am not up on the nicknames of the regiments that remain in the army and the ones I do know are pretty unofficial I suspect and not for splashing on this website.

Mind you it would not seem all nicknames were flattering originally. Card 16, The Life Guards are known as 'The Cheesmongers', re-modelled in 1786 the Colnel exclaimed his division was no longer made up of gentlemen but 'Cheesemongers' It only goes to show how wonderfully structured society must have been. Imagine making such a comment today.

Others have nicknames which come from particular actions, 'Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders' are called 'The Thin Red Line' because they repulsed the full charge of the Russian Cavalry.

Then there are the regiments like the 17th Lancers, 'Death or Glory Boys' the crest being a skull and crossbones. Perhaps not the regiment you would want to be drafted into if you were unsure about the whole thing.

Mind you rather that than 'The Worcestershire Regiment' nicknamed 'The Vein Openers' this being due to the fact they were the first British Regiment to spill blood in 1770 during the riot which heralded the American War of Independence. (Worcestershire is pronounced Wostershire which is probably a good thing to remember under the circumstances).

At least you know where you are with these nicknames, imagine finding yourself in 'The Jollies' to discover you had just ended up in the Royal Marines.

The Middlesex (Duke of Cambridge's Own) Regiment are called 'The Die Hards' which came about when at Albuhera they lost 447 officers and men out of a total strength of 570.

The battles were hard and the men it bred were hard. Failing was unpardonable and anyone that did so could expect some pretty harsh treatment. The Northamptonshire Regiment 'The Steelbacks' so called because of the unflinching way in which they took their punishments. When one of their number fainted whilst being flogged (it was the 20th lash) they sent him to 'Coventry' for his lack of pluck.