Saturday 2 August 2008

Taking Tea At Asquith Towers

The murmuring of bees in the lavender hedge, mingled with the gentle chinking of bone china as afternoon tea was cleared from the terrace overlooking the orchard. The ladies removed the last crumbs of honey scones and dregs of Earl Grey and left the garden to Stuart Asquith and myself.

Stuart delved in his waistcoat pocket and emerged with a 25mm cavalry figure.
"This was given me by Peter Gilder, after our game at Northern Militaire back in '79."

With trembling hands I took the Hinchcliffe personality figure of Prince Rupert. I last saw Peter Gilders painting back in the display cases that lined the walls of the Hinchliffe shop. Of course I have seen lots of photos of his figures since then, but photographs do not seem to convey the delicacy of his style.

In the Hinchliffe handbook he advocated using a thinned mix of humbrol enamel leather to stain flesh. What surprised me as I handled the Prince Rupert was the degree to which stains had been used. All of the main areas of the figure had been painted with thin washes and then a little detail had been added and edges defined with a very fine black line.

Most present days wargamers will think of Humbrol enamel as a thick gloop of a paint which is used in a relatively unsophisticated way to block in big areas. In fact it could be used on the palette and doctored with white spirit and oil to achieve some very nice effects. I use the past tense because the last few tins of Humbrol that I have bought have been absolutely dreadful, no use to anyone.

Prince Rupert absolutely glowed as the gloss varnish enhanced the jewel like quality of the painting. Stuart took it back and replaced it carefully in his pocket.

"If you care for such things," he smiled, "perhaps you would stroll back up to my study. Its possible that I have one or two things in the display cabinet you might like to glance at before dinner."

to be continued......

This photo is taken from the wonderful 'Battles of the American Revolution' by Curt Johnstone. It shows the Peter Gilder figures but only hints at the translucent painting style. I spent hours looking at these figures when they adorned the little shop in Meltham that was Hinchliffe's factory outlet. Next door to the Ferguson tractor garage if I recall correctly.


Anonymous said...


i'm lucky enough to have a fair chunk of the old gilder ecw collection - some of it painted in the fashion you describe. i still use humbrol enamels to paint in a similar style (though the formulation is nowhere near as good as it used to be).

i remember when SA resurfaced (after leaving the hobby after the demise of Practical Wargamer, etc) he wrote to lone warrior explaining he had sold all of his figures - i'm glad to see he hadn't entirely.

tantalising stuff so far, more please...

Steve-the-Wargamer said...

...yes indeed! It also strikes me as a remarkably "modern" approach to painting - Mr Gilder, it seems to me, was way ahead of his time??

Anonymous said...

BTW John, if you're interested i can send you some photos of Gilder's ECW. If you don't have a copy you should get your hands on the old Osprey Wargames titles - Naseby and Leipzig - lots of Gilder therein.

WSTKS-FM Worldwide said...

Hello John,

Don't leave us hanging like that. What else did Stuart have to show you? Do tell, do tell!

Best Regards,


Anonymous said...

Further to 'anonymous' reference to the Naseby book, Stuart Asquith wrote it!

Fascinating stuff Mr Preece!

I. Kenson

Der Alte Fritz said...

Most of the Gilder American Revolution collection resides in the states these days. I might be able to track it down for you if you are interested.

Snickering Corpses said...

A great honor indeed, and I shall echo Stokes in our hunger to hear more. It's wonderful to get such a chance of insight into the life of one of the greats of the hobby.

Bluebear Jeff said...

I too want to read more of your visit . . . most of us will never have the chance to meet such luminaries.

-- Jeff

Anonymous said...

Come on John - it's been over two weeks! You may have a life but some of us don't - we're hanging on the next installment. What happened next?

Vintage Wargaming said...


I have some of Peter Gilder's Hinton Hunt Napoleonic French cavalry and artillery - there are some pictures on the Hinton Hunter blog. Not just the painting but added detailing could make you weep.