Victorian Police Rattle

Item 4     $ 200    SOLD

Rattle, wooden, small, weighted with folding handle, very good condition, used in mid-1800’s by  most British police forces. Die stamped, “FIELD 59 LEMAN St E” and “POLICE”

When the Metropolitan Police was formed in 1829 the rattle was a standard piece of equipment issued to each constable. Made to fit in a special uniform pocket, this rattle was one-bladed and had a folding handle. It was weighted with two lead plugs to make it swing easier and this also made it become a formidable weapon if necessary.

There appear to be two different sets of markings … first, on the handle and above the weights is stamped “W^D” which means “War Department” … and then, just above and within the weights is stamped “R” above “296”. I believe the two sets are separate because the “W^D” was done with a smaller die-stamp tool than the other markings. The “R 296” probably means “R” Division of the Metropolitan Police and inventory number “296”.

Perhaps this rattle was first used for police duty in the 1870’s -1880’s and was then retired away to some government warehouse. Then, at some later time, it was re-issued to the War Department for military use during one of the Empire’s wars of that period … maybe the Boer War, or even as late as WWI when rattles were used to alert folks of Zeppelin attacks.