06 November 2011

Police officer, 1925, holding his portepee.

Perhaps someone can identify that object in his left hand that looks like a sex toy.

Photo from Réunion des musées nationaux via A London Salmagundi.

Addendum: The object has been identified by Seattle Sailor as a "portepee":
They were originally used to help retain the sword during combat but later evolved into a strictly ornamental device denoting rank. I can't see a sword in this picture, but they were also worn on daggers, which may be the case here.
Here's a photo from the German Imperia Automobile Corps illustrating portepees (and leather "frogs" on daggers:
The Prussian Automobile Corps authorized a distinctive portepee for wear with these daggers. These silver bullion strap portepees with red and black stripes are extremely rare and rarely seen.
I am recurrently surprised and delighted about how I can post questions about the most arcane topics on this blog and get an authoritative answer within hours.  Amazing.  Thank you.

12 comments:

  1. I hope you mean left hand...

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  2. It's a Portepee. They were originally used to help retain the sword during combat but later evolved into a strictly ornamental device denoting rank.

    I can't see a sword in this picture, but they were also worn on daggers, which may be the case here.

    Here's a link (in German) for more info
    http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portepee

    Here's a clearer picture of the portepee in use
    http://www.germanautoandaerocorps.com/automobilclub/english/frogs.html

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  3. It looks like the second link didn't turn out well in the comments, or maybe it's my browser.

    Here's a shorter link.
    http://tinyurl.com/7avyztw

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  4. I would guess it is some variant of a 'slapper' or billy club.

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  5. Thank you, Seattle Sailor. I've incorporated your information into the post.

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  6. There is a sword there! He holds it vertically, so the dark scabbard blends with his trousers. The hilt is like this: http://www.militaryheritage.com/images/1796lc_2.jpg
    The curve of the hilt which protects the knuckles is between his thumb and index finger, the crossguard is just below that, horizontally, and the portepee is looped on the hilt just like on the picture of the daggers.
    (Btw, this stuff is known as 'sword-tassel' in Hungarian.)

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  7. For the record, portepee is a French word that pretty much directly translates as "sword holder" or "sword carrier". It's a compound word - port and épée.

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  8. I was an officer in the UUS Navy in the late 1960s and we had them our our dress swords.

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  9. Ah! That makes sense. Thanks, anon.

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  10. Before I read what it was, guided only by the name, I was trying to make the thing into an early version of a Motorman's Friend. Shows you how classy I am...

    --Swift Loris

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