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A Collection of China Marine Swagger Sticks


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#1 Dirk

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 01:37 PM

There are certain items we closely associate the China Marines: the fur cap with Company Diamond, the high gloss M1917 helmet with EGA, and the embroidered photo album. But there was another item popular with the China Marines: the swagger stick. Apparently swagger sticks were part of late Victorian walking out dress for all ranks of the British Army and Royal Marines. American soldiers, sailors and Marines would have seen these regularly carried by the British during and after the Boxer Rebellion and throughout their during long association with the British troops in Peking, Shanghai, and Tientsin. Although our Marines were authorized to carry sticks in 1922, photos show they were carried in China well before that date, most likely in imitation of the British who were the dominate regional power. One Marine writing of his China Cruise in the mid 1930's stated Marines upon arrival were encouraged to carry swagger sticks, preferably with a heavy metal tip, as they were considered ideal for fending off lepers who aggressively begged in the streets! Here is my small collection of China Marine associated swagger sticks. Although each is an individual piece, they most commonly feature a dragon motif. Most have two dragons, one on the end cap, and one wrapped around the stick itself. I call these double dragon sticks. Sometimes we know the maker, but mostly not, for Chinese silversmiths tended to hallmark their works as individuals and not a part of a jeweler they may have been employed by, if they even hallmarked them at all. And if the silversmith did not advertise in a number of Marine or commercial periodicals we will probably never who they were and where they were located. Also I don't know if Chinese silversmiths did their own engraving as opposed to western silversmiths, who were a distinct occupation separate from those that did engraving. Unlike the English, which had a very standardized way of marking silver, the Chinese were much more haphazard. Sometime a piece will be marked with the word "sterling" other times with a specific silver content. Sometimes pieces are found with only the makers name in Chinese characters. Other times the name appears in Western letters or a combination of both Western and Chinese.

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Edited by Dirk, 01 June 2019 - 02:09 PM.


#2 Dirk

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 01:39 PM

This is probably the earliest swagger stick I have. Made for a Marine who served 1927-30 in China. Something's tells me this one is out of Shanghai. The cap dragon is raised, vice engraved into the cap as my North China Sticks are. A second dragon wraps almost around the length of the stick. Small nails are used to secure the dragon to the stick. There is traces of old polish around this dragon. The maker is unknown. Length 29".

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#3 Dirk

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 01:41 PM

This stick is a presentation to Capt John A. Tebbs Company Commander L Company. Tebbs was a VMI graduate and served in WWI. Involved in the Aisne-Marne Offensive, St. Mihiel Offensive, and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. Per his online bio Tebbs was wounded at St. Mihiel from a German bullet. On October 4, 1918 he was involved in a gas attack. Then, on November 2, sustained another wound and was removed from active service for the duration of World War 1. He would die in 1945 of a heart attack while still on active duty. Gifts to company commanders were not uncommon, and since silver was relatively cheap in China, most Marines received gifts of silver. This swagger stick is amazing in the detail found on its cap. It is also far thicker and heavier then any other swagger stick I possess. Hallmarked to an unknown Shanghai silversmith. Length 24 3/4".

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#4 Dirk

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 01:44 PM

The dragon on the Tebbs presentation swagger stick

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#5 devildog34

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 01:46 PM

This is an awesome topic Dirk!!!  There are some beautiful works of art among these classic and iconic symbols of Marine Corps NCOs.



#6 Dirk

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 01:48 PM

Teh Ling operated a jewelry store inside Peking's Legation Quarter that was heavily patronized by the Marines in the 1930's. He may have even continued is business after the war. We saw his work on the Antique Road Show a few years back when a Marine descendant brought in a larger silver service by him. He also made swagger sticks. Here are two examples of his store's work. Both pieces are signed with his name, but I suspect they were made by employees. Both have dragons with jeweled eyes. Both the globes of EGA on the stick's end cap have suffered denting at some point in their history. I wonder if this is a common flaw to Teh Lings Sticks. BobGee's stick with the green eyes, appears to be an upgraded model and more finely executed-so in Teh Ling's case he had several models to chose from. Length 26".

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Edited by Dirk, 05 June 2019 - 03:06 PM.


#7 Dirk

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 01:49 PM

Dragon topped walking stick. This one belonged to a Navy Corpsman who would be captured by the Japanese at the start of the war. I've discussed this stick in a earlier thread. A Tientsin made stick, most likely of ebony which makes it a very heavy walking stick. Ebony was imported from Ceylon and the Dutch East Indies. The silversmiths hallmark appears below the dragon Length 36"

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Edited by Dirk, 01 June 2019 - 01:52 PM.


#8 6th.MG.BN

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 01:51 PM

That's a great collection of swagger sticks from a hard to find period!
Thanks for sharing them with us.
Ken

#9 Dirk

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 01:52 PM

I Chang. Made for a Marine officer serving in Tientsin in the late 1930's, the workmanship is very good. This one bears Chang's hallmark and the word "sterling" Again a double dragon example with the dragon chasing its egg. The dragon on the end cap is engraved into the cap while the other dragon wraps around the shaft of the stick. The Marine also chose for his rank, name, Service and duty location to be added with an extra piece of silver. Both the name plate and dragon are attached by small nails. What is interesting about this stick is the details the engraver chose to add. Polishing revealed small scroll work around each nail and the clouds has a different texture then the dragon, by stippling the silver. Length 26 3/4".

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Edited by Dirk, 01 June 2019 - 02:14 PM.


#10 Dirk

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 01:55 PM

Post war. Nothing says cheap souvenir more then this example. The makers are unknown to me but you see their work coming out of groupings found Peiping, Tientsin, Tsingtao. The stick is no longer wood but hastily rolled metal, with the seams barley holding together or painted closed. A ill-fitted bullet shoved in as an end cap. The other end cap design shows the US and Chinese flags and an EGA tops the stick. We see on daggers from the same "factory" a lot on eBay. The one interesting feature on this one is by pulling the pommel, it revels a sword with a very poorly
engraved dragon. Length 18 1/2".

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Edited by Dirk, 01 June 2019 - 02:27 PM.


#11 Dirk

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 02:01 PM

I would like to see other examples from Forum members! I think there is still much to learn about these, even the various types of wood used etc. Bob even has the sales receipt for his from Teh Lings shop in Peiping! As I said, each seems to be an individual piece and a nice insight into the taste of the men that carried these.

Kevin and Ken thanks for your kind words! Spent a good part of the day trying to capture these on my phone's camera, but I think it's an understudied area in our hobby.

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Edited by Dirk, 01 June 2019 - 02:20 PM.


#12 aznation

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 03:07 PM

 

I would like to see other examples from Forum members!

 

Dirk, I think you have them all (ha).  If not, at least you have some VERY nice ones.  Thank you for sharing those.  They're AWESOME looking!



#13 bobgee

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 03:14 PM

Outstanding collection, Dirk. Great pics. Tje swagger stick was carried by Marines until the 1960s when Commandan David Shoup made a policy statement to the effect, "You can carry them if you feel a need to." or words to that effect. They disapeared overnight! On Okinawa in the late 50s we carried a small swagger-type, polished wood stick painted with our unit and dates on OKI called a short-time's stick, usually acquired in the ville during the last month of the tour. Semper Fi ! Bob



#14 Dirk

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 03:23 PM

AZ thanks! For your kind words!

Bob thank you for forwarding Goen's on to be enjoyed for years to come! Your right, on heck of a swagger stick!

#15 teufelhunde.ret

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Posted 02 June 2019 - 03:03 AM

These are a widely overlooked area in USMC collections. The China made pieces were one of a kind examples an deserving of more attention as Dirk is providing us. Many thx for posting these and hope to see more, learn more as your collection grows!

#16 Dirk

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Posted 02 June 2019 - 04:11 AM

D thank you! I am always looking, but I am not finding a lot out there, so will be looking forward to other forum members discoveries.

#17 kanemono

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Posted 05 June 2019 - 01:51 PM

Great sticks Dirk. Thank you very much for posting them! Love China stuff.



#18 Dirk

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Posted 05 June 2019 - 03:03 PM

Thanks Dick! There has got to be more out there!

#19 Brig

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Posted 08 June 2019 - 07:52 AM

Don't know how I overlooked this...

 

Great topic, Dirk, showcasing some great swag. Of course, we've come to have very high expectations from you in the China Marine department, but you continue to exceed those expectations



#20 Dirk

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Posted 08 June 2019 - 12:59 PM

Brig thanks! Let's see what else is out there! Marks album came today, some nice early photos of the China Made fur cap pre EGA

Edited by Dirk, 08 June 2019 - 02:14 PM.


#21 collectsmedals

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Posted 08 June 2019 - 01:27 PM

This is not a China Marine swagger stick, but it is one that belonged to Brigadier General (later Major General) Thomas H. Green who was Judge Advocate General of the U. S. Army from 1945 to 1949. He was Judge Advocate of the Hawaiian Department from August 1940 until the attack on Pearl Harbor when he was appointed Executive Officer to the Governor General. I picked up several of his military items at an estate sale over 20 years ago, including the swagger stick. The swagger stick is heavy, made of chrome plated metal, and is just under 28 inches in length from the end of the leather tip.

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#22 collectsmedals

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Posted 08 June 2019 - 01:30 PM

A close-up of the engraving.

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#23 Dirk

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Posted 08 June 2019 - 02:14 PM

Thank you sharing that and adding to the thread!

#24 kanemono

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Posted 11 June 2019 - 01:25 PM

Here is a riding crop won by Russell A. Bowers who was assigned to the Headquarters Detachment, Mounted Detachment, American Legation, Peiping, China in October 1935. One of the duties of the Mounted Detachment was as the Legation Military Police, the Horse Marines patrolled the narrow streets of Peiping and the surrounding countryside on horseback to protect American missionaries and businessmen from the many bands of bandits and warlords roving the Chinese countryside. Bowers took part in the Legation Guards Race Cup at Paomachang, China, which was a nine furlong race. Bowers placed second riding “Whisky Bill” and won this riding crop. It is engraved with “Peiping China”, “Mounted Det.”, Whisky Bill” and “R. A. Bowers.” The crop is 34 ½” in total length. Here is an article from the “American Embassy GuardNews” Peiping China, July 1st 1936.

 

 

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#25 kanemono

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Posted 11 June 2019 - 01:26 PM

Group of Horse Marines with riding crops.

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