Home Forums General Books and Magazines Uniform Books – Best Ones

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  • #196480
    Avatar photoWhirlwind
    Participant

    A recent discussion on the best single- or double-volume uniform book for the War of the Spanish Succession has led me onto thinking a little about uniform (and equipment paint scheme) books more generally. Regardless of period, what do you think are the best single- and double-volume uniform books out there? Just for clarity, by single or double volume I mean all the major combatants, troop types and equipment are covered in it, accurately enough to paint a reasonably large-sized wargame army but not necessarily covering all of the more niche and exotic units.

    #196491
    Avatar photoNot Connard Sage
    Participant

    There aren’t any. Uniformology is too large (and contentious) a subject to be covered in a couple of books. Also, they need to be revised as new information comes to light – Funckens used to be the ne plus ultra of uniform books, now they’re hopelessly outdated.

    Of course, it all depends on your definition of ‘accuracy’ 🙂

    Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.

    #196493
    Avatar photoGeneral Slade
    Participant

    I’m very fond of the Blandford Colour Series books and I would go into bat for John Mollo and Malcolm McGregor’s Uniforms of the American Revolution and Philip Haythornthwaite and Michael Chappell’s Uniforms of the Penninsular War 1807-1814.  I also love Haythornthwaite and Chappell’s Uniforms of the Retreat from Moscow though the information on the Russian army may be a bit outdated.

     

    #196496

    A couple

    -1864-1866

    Armies of Bismarck’s Wars: Prussia, 1860-1867 by Bruce Bassett-Powell (English)

    -For Balkan Wars

    Memorabilia of the Balkan Wars – Uniforms, Medals and Heirlooms from the Belligerent Armies of 1912-1913

    by V. Nicoltsios

     

    The Don Troiani books on the US Civil War

    #196509
    Avatar photoOotKust
    Participant

    Funckens used to be the ne plus ultra of uniform books, now they’re hopelessly outdated.

    I apologise in advance- I disagree and did so earlier as well!
    Not only did Funckens depict accurate variations of early French line uniforms*1 before nearly everyone else; they remain, except for much variation in cavalry limited to a single entity each, much the safest source of basic designs.

    *1- And many as such never produced as model figurines either, hence my adotopn of ‘customisation’*.

    Haythornthwaite and the Ospreyyys*2 are hacks- divisive and lacking context, sources often and colour (b&w illustrations/ captions that do not relate to the subject matter or uniforms) depictions.

    *I know the authors have no practical editorial input, but the dishonesty of a manuscript that gets twisted about isn’t necessarily their fault*.

    ‘Modern’ French and other depictions are frequently no better, which considering the costs are a major disappointment.

    But yes, a mixture of various books- the Copernic series, Michael Head, Bryan Fosten and others, have meticulously studied sources and created superb modern works. Can’t fault them, and  despite all the mud-slinging against Rigo, Rousellot and others, some of whom recanted earlier work as ‘guesstimates’ based on lacking source information, not because of it.

    Whilst I own many of these books, I prefer to make a balanced assessment of my own on ‘period’ artwork [naive or not…] vs the dominant hypotheses promoted so often.

    ‘Guides Malibran’ I purchased from a friend in Paris in 1984 gets a constant lookup for my French details.
    regards -davew

    #196511
    Avatar photoWhirlwind
    Participant

    OotKust, okay, but apart from the Funckens (all Funckens? or just the Napoleonic volumes?), are you actually recommending any single or twin-volume uniform works?

    #196527
    Avatar photoNot Connard Sage
    Participant
    • <p style=”text-align: left;”>Some Funckens are better than others. The two Napoleonic books are 50 years old. I have copies, but there’s far more reliable stuff around these days.</p>
      The other volumes I don’t have. The Lace Wars are reputed to be OK for British and French, but as they cover all the major wars from c1725 to 1785 I’m sceptical. There’s a separate volume that covers the AWI.

    The Blandford Press volumes are hardly comprehensive, and also getting on for their half century.

    A comprehensive single book is C E Franklin’s ‘British Napoleonic Uniforms’, but it’s not cheap. Nicely illustrated though.

    Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.

    #196572
    Avatar photoOrm Embar
    Participant

    If starting out, the Funckens (Most of them) and Haythornthwaites Penninsular war and Mollo on the AWI will do you just fine, what they are not and never pretended to be was definative, in depth coverage, but a very good general overview.

     

    And no wargamer with an interest in the 18thC can fail be inspired by the artwork in the Funckens Lace Wars pair, indeed for a long time, the only source for Austrian and Some of the lesser German states.

     

    Now if you want in depth analysis of the period etc… a simple uniform book is not the place to be looking in the first place.

     

    Uniform and accurate uniform research is a deep rabbit hole that you only have to go as deep as you want.

    #196608
    Avatar photoOotKust
    Participant

    OotKust, okay, but apart from the Funckens (all Funckens? or just the Napoleonic volumes?), are you actually recommending any single or twin-volume uniform works?

    Well two things here-

    • Not everything comes in a single volume or two, and
    • you’re asking me to recite, an an option, most of my library…

    So to start, my Rev/ Napoleonic and ignoring the major tomes that are text only:

    • Lachouques Anatomy of Glory (trans).
    • Bucquoy series books- 9  vols from 1980s.
    • Copernic books ditto- 4-5 copies various Nap theatres
    • All the Ospreys, all Continental nations (sold all the Brits)
    • 9-10 of Blandfords series.
    • Full set of Rousselot plates (from 1980s) as well as digital copies
    • Uniformes Magazine from Issue 2 through to about 87 ?
    • Multiple uniform ‘plates’ by Courcelle, Girbal, M.Toussaint, a bible on Detailles artwork, some Rigo, and the ever partly unreliable de Marbot plates.
    • There are also several copies of b&w engravings in book formats by Rose, RH Horne, Henri Choppin etc. from approx 1845-1865 vintage.

    So thats my off the cuff synopsis of historical books and original uniform material from the 1980’s I possess and had, until now, relied upon.  In more recent times I have purchased:

    • 4-5 of Helions offerings since 2019, incl. Vernet by Guy Dempsey.
    • 6 of Paul L Dawsons books (all French based) including his private publications (Lulu).
    • H&C Austerlitz 1805 (both a poor quality print and poor illustrations), yet has some superb detailled text matter unavailable in other forms.

    In text form and narratives, I’ve taken much from the recent translations of Mikaberidze and others showing the former ‘opinions’ given about Continental armies to have been very poorly researched indeed.

    But thanks for asking,
    davew

    #196610
    Avatar photoNot Connard Sage
    Participant

    So, to précis,

    There aren’t any.

    Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.

    #196612
    Avatar photoWhirlwind
    Participant

    Well two things here- Not everything comes in a single volume or two, and you’re asking me to recite, an an option, most of my library…

    I really was not, and I apologize sincerely if you thought I was. I was simply asking for what I described in the OP – recommendations for the best single or double volume coverage of a war, with most of the combatants described fairly accurately for wargaming purposes. That’s it.

    So, to précis, Not Connard Sage wrote: There aren’t any.

    🙂

    #196613
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish
    Participant

    Okay, my turn to be picky!

    Question was ‘best’.

    I reckon the two Funcken Napoleonic volumes are the best of the flawed attempts out there to get near the original criteria.

    Give a seventeen year old those two books and I reckon they could paint up sufficient figures to a not too ‘orrible standard to fight most campaigns of the Napoleonic Wars.

    Of course there are changes (probably quite a few) you’d make if you were doing a revised edition, but given the influence of online sources will any publisher ever bother with the like again?

    #196618
    Avatar photoNot Connard Sage
    Participant

    Okay, my turn to be picky! Question was ‘best’. I reckon the two Funcken Napoleonic volumes are the best of the flawed attempts out there to get near the original criteria. Give a seventeen year old those two books and I reckon they could paint up sufficient figures to a not too ‘orrible standard to fight most campaigns of the Napoleonic Wars. Of course there are changes (probably quite a few) you’d make if you were doing a revised edition, but given the influence of online sources will any publisher ever bother with the like again?

    There’s still some controversy about ‘aurore’. 🙂

     

     

     

    Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.

    #196620
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish
    Participant

    There’s still some controversy about ‘aurore’. 🙂

    Not the way I paint it!

    #196640
    Avatar photoOotKust
    Participant

    There’s still some controversy about ‘aurore’. 🙂

    Not the way I paint it!

    Quite so, and I’d agree.
    The biggest issue also is the origin- European climate and structure means they skies ARE quite different there from say, Nrth Amurca, or sub-Antarctic newz ild…
    So one should stay with the ‘source’ as a true inflection of what it means… I have no problem believing what I saw in person on museum and some private exhibits, Chasseur wise, and cited elsewhere my ultimate colour, which I’d mixed myself, and found it matched a commercial colour… so ahem… ditto…
    Books, well, few exist in completion. The ones that try, usually fail.

    d

    #196641
    Avatar photoOrm Embar
    Participant

    The one thing that internet sources do well, is the ability to update small changes fast, where a print book needs to sell through and have demand for another edition before that can happen.

     

    But, nothing beats browsing a book just looking for inspiration.

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