Further reading

For those wishing to continue their research into this fascinating subject the following books are offered as a starting point.

Broken Heads and Shattered Truncheons – The Essex Special constable 1800-1913

By Alan C. Cook

It is a common mistake to think special constables were created by an Act of Parliament and that a single date can be applied to when they came into being. The role developed over time and thanks to various reforms during the nineteenth century, gradually became enshrined into the fabric of our policing structure. This book charts the rise of specials within the county of Essex, their links with the magistracy and demonstrates the important role they played whenever there was a threat to the peace. These threats included foreign invasion and largescale public unrest during events such as the Swing Riots of 1830 and the Fenian uprising of 1868. In order to perform their role the special constable was armed with a truncheon and this book provides a detailed account on their manufacture and issue. It includes the various Acts of Parliament relating to specials constables during the 19th century and will be of interest to anyone researching this area of police history.

Truncheons – An Unequal Match 

By Alan C. Cook

Published Alan C. Cook in 2014

The first major work on truncheons and tipstaves in over 29 years. This book is 212 pages long and contains colour images of over 250 truncheons and tipstaves, mainly from the authors own collection.


Police Insignia Collectors Club:

‘There is so much fascinating detail in this book that an adequate description is difficult. It must be experienced first-hand to be fully appreciated. It will take the reader a considerable amount of time to go from cover to cover but they will be a much more enlightened and educated person for doing so.’

The Police History Society:

‘A more accurate sub-title would be ‘an illustrated history of policing through decorated truncheons and tipstaves’, because this is much more than a collector’s guide. The 21 chapters cover every kind of police force, including railway, canal, university and cathedral. Alan Cook, a serving chief inspector and an enthusiastic collector, explains the detailed history of each type of truncheon, with frequent background stories and quotations to put the items in context. There’s even a chapter on cartoons and picture postcards depicting truncheons.  

The illustrations are in colour throughout and of excellent quality. They alone make it the most comprehensive reference book on the subject. An essential work for any police museum curator or private collector and of great interest even if you don’t collect.’

Police Memorabilia Collectors Club:

‘Such is his knowledge of the subject it’s inevitable that a book on the history of decorated truncheons by Alan Cook is going to be authoritative and instructive. What is perhaps less predictable is that his book would be so easy to read, beautifully put together and totally lacking in the stuffiness that sadly characterises so many ‘worthy’ works, whatever the subject. 

In other words, the author has come up with something that is unique in its style and appeal, without in any way detracting from its immense value as a serious work for collectors and historians. It’s an invaluable reference yet, at the same time, a book to be enjoyed by everybody with an interest in the story of policing.’

Those Entrusted with Arms – The Police, Post, Prison, Customs and Private Use of Weapons in Britain

By Frederick Wilkinson

Published by Greenhill Books in association with The Royal Armouries in 2002

This book is 294 pages long and is an excellent source of information on the general use of weapons carried by organisations such as the police, including firearms, swords and truncheons. Of particular note is the information contained on the London Public Offices and there are a number of accompanying illustrations, including truncheons and tipstaves.

The Policeman’s Lot – Antique British Police Equipment including Truncheons and Tipstaves

By Mervyn Mitton

Published by Quiller Press in 1985

This book is 165 pages long and contains numerous colour pictures of many fine and interesting truncheon and tipstaves. Mitton had one of the largest collections ever amassed and in addition to items from his own collection he illustrated examples from other large collections such as Bramshill and the Museum of London. This book has wide appeal and has been the standard reference point for many collectors who have not been lucky enough to have access to earlier works. While out of print copies are obtainable.

The History of Truncheons

By E. R. H. Dicken, F.R.G.S.

Published by Arthur H. Stockwell Limited, Devon in 1952

This book is 136 pages long and contains 27 black and white plates of approximately 150 truncheons. It is a small, but very informative book. It is divided into chapters which each deal with a specific category of truncheon collecting. The pictures albeit in black and white are of good quality and he has only illustrated his finest examples.  It is obvious from both this and Fenn Clark’s book that they were friends prepared to loan items as some of the truncheons appear in both books with the appropriate acknowledgement.

Truncheons – Their Romance & Reality

By Erland Fenn Clark (MA Oxon)

Published by Herbert Jenkins Limited in 1935

This book is 242 pages long and contains approximately 100 plates illustrating more than 500 pieces. The style of the book is in the form of a catalogue with one page listing the items which corresponds to the photo on the page opposite.  As one of the most important elements to truncheon collecting is seeing and handling objects this book is invaluable because of the many pictures. Unfortunately due to the limits of photography at the time some of the pictures do not do justice to the objects.

In 2004 The Times letter column ran a series on bizarre book titles, and Truncheons – Their Romance and Reality was offered as a contender. The book is still of great value to the collector and contains a number of other interesting snippets on his family background. A letter from Fenn Clark, which was circulated with some copies of his book suggests around 200 were printed.