Royal ciphers and coats of arms act as a useful guiding to dating as they are both commonly found on decorated truncheons and tipstaves. The dates covering the reigns of monarchs most likely to be found are as follows:
George III 1760–1820
George IV 1820–1830
William IV 1830–1837
Edward VII 1901–1910
George V 1910–1936
The principle changes in the royal arms from 1714 are shown in the following images:
The arms shown above were first used by George I in 1714 and subsequently by George II and George III. They represent in the first quarter the arms of England and Scotland. In the second the arms of France. In the third the arms of Ireland and in the fourth the arms of Hanover.
In 1801 the arms were changed when George III renounced his title, King of France, and the French quartering was removed. The escutcheon for Hanover was placed in the centre and was surmounted by a red ‘electoral cap’ with white ermine fur trimming.
A slight change to the 1801 arms was made in 1816, when the cap was changed to a crown when Hanover became a kingdom.
In 1837 the Hanover escutcheon was removed because Queen Victoria, as a woman, was unable to succeed to the Hanoverian throne. These arms have been used by the royal family since that time.
Some caution should always be exercised when dating, or identifying pieces, and evidence should be taken in the round rather than relying on individual aspects of style and decoration. Examples of truncheons are known where the royal arms and dates conflict, or where the arms are incorrect. These pieces were often painted by local craftsmen who did not know or understand the intricacies of heraldry and were probably copying earlier representations.