Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Prize of the Silver Club & Proclamation, Edinburgh

“The Prize of the Silver Club” & "Proclamation, Edinburgh"
ARTIST: David Allan

Special Thanks to Don Hagist (

This installment of British Military Musicians showcases a pair of similar pieces by Scottish artist David Allan. Not only do we get to see the Scottish national sport of golf play a part, but we will witness continuity between art and artifact.

First, let's look at Allan's 1787 "Prize of the Silver Club":

According to the National Library of Scotland:

"David Allan's drawing shows the Silver Club being paraded ceremonially through the streets to Leith. The prize was for a new annual golf competition on Leith Links, organised by a number of prominent golfers. These men later became the Company of Gentlemen Golfers – the world's first golf club. What the artist calls 'the Silver Golf' is the Silver Club with silver golf balls attached to it. A new ball, with the winner's name on it, was added to the club every year. The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers continues the tradition to this day."(Source:

In the above watercolour, the drummers wear typical military style small clothes (white breeches, stockings, waistcoat and shirt; black shoes; cocked hat with black cockade and trim) although it is not yet clear if they are indeed military drummers. The coat seems distinctly military in nature as it is a red coat with blue facings (indicating a royal regiment), shoulder wings, and blue and white lace on the sleeves. While the painting is not detailed enough to see if there is lace around the lapel and cuff buttonholes, it stands to reason that there would be. Our subjects wear neck belts made of blue cloth from which to carry their drums. The drums have a front design of a shield/crest flanked by a human figure at left and a horse or other similar animal at right. A scroll lies under the crest.

Now let's take a look at Allan's "Proclamation, Edinburgh":

The drummers in this watercolour differ only by their white hat trim, shoulder belts, and the presence of black half-gaiters. The design on the drum shell is identical to the first.

Now for the artifacts! 

We history buffs are lucky to have a beautifully preserved drum and drummer's coat attributed to the Old Town Guard of Edinburgh. The red coat is faced in blue cloth and has blue and white drummer's lace on the sleeve seams, shoulder wings, and looping the buttonholes. The drum's front has a field of blue with the traditional crest of the town of Edinburgh painted over it.

Detail of the drummer's coat.

Here is a closer photo to see the detail of the painting on the drum. The castle within the shield represents the Edinburgh Castle on the Castle Rock. Flanking the shield on the Edinburgh coat of arms on this drum are a maiden and a rampant doe.*World%20Cultures*&key=exhibition.title&offset=0

And a close up of the drum in the watercolours

From the above artwork and artifacts, we can be certain that Mr. David Allan created a respectable representation of drummers belonging to the Edinburgh Old Town Guard. We could also conclude - but without 100% certainty - that the drummers in the first painting, "Prize of the Silver Club", were very likely "borrowed" from this local volunteer regiment for the occasion of parading the silver club through the streets.
In conclusion, this opportunity to view a side-by-side comparison of the parallels between artwork and known artifacts dating to a specific regiment at a specific time has been a true joy for me. I hope you have enjoyed reading it.