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    A Victorian brass and ebony tipstaff, circa 1870

    A police truncheon from an era when policing methods were not subject to the same scrutiny as they are today and with an Irish connection comes up at Dreweatts in Newbury, Berkshire in a live online sale on February 16. Lot 548 in the sale is an inscribed tipstaff engraved with the name Sir Peter Tait & Co., Southwark St., London. Sir Peter Tait (1828-1890) was a colourful, flamboyant entrepreneur, who was Mayor of Limerick, where he had a clothing business. He also opened one at 95 Southwark Street, near Blackfriars Bridge in London. In March 1872 he won the contract for truncheons to the Metropolitan Police. In 1875, Tait retired and moved to Thessaloniki in northern Greece, to establish a Turkish cigarette factory. This venture was not a success and he died in poverty at the Hotel De France in Batoum, southern Russia, in December 1890, at the age of 62. The tipstaff here is estimated at £400-600.

    Truncheons were used before official police forces were founded. Those before the 1880s are considered exceptionally rare and are therefore highly prized and sought-after. The majority of the highly decorated pieces were seen in the 18th century and often featured coats of arms, motifs, symbols and emblems connected to their owner and the region that the owner was from. 

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