Item description for NAPOLEONIC UNIFORMS: 2 Volume Boxed Set by John R. Elting & Herbert Knotel...
In 1993 The Macmillan Publishing Company set the Napoleonic enthusiast community alight when it produced the major two volume work, Napoleonic Uniforms by John R. Elting, featuring the superb works of the famous illustrator Herbert Knotel. Now, in an unprecedented transatlantic co-operation, Greenhill Books in London and Casemate Publishing in the USA are together bringing these books back into print after some 14 years.
This new edition, as before, will be sold as a two volume set. In addition, the new edition will be presented in a cloth bound slipcase. Pagination and an index have been added, significantly enhancing its reference value.
Napoleonic Uniforms is the only reference work of its kind to depict accurately the entire Grande Arme'e in detail. It portrays the French armies as seen by their contemporaries, and combines authoritative text with lavish illustrations, enabling the reader to experience the spectacle first hand.
Napoleonic Uniforms also depicts the various types of soldiers within the various regiments of the Grande Arme'e - officers, sergeants, color-bearers, bandsmen, drummers and trumpeters, privates and surgeons. In addition the volumes contain material on lesser-known formations such as the Army of Egypt (1798 - 1801), the pre-Revolutionary French Army, and Napoleon's police and internal security organizations.
Nine hundred and eighteen original watercolors by Herbert Knotel, an internationally acclaimed authority on military uniforms, with a special talent for depicting men and horses in action, bring the nineteenth-century French soldier to life. Together with the late Colonel John R. Elting's definitive captions, they preserve a significant aspect of this famous era for historians, researchers, teachers, students, model makers, "uniformologists", and the general reader interested in this historical period.
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Reviews - What do customers think about NAPOLEONIC UNIFORMS: 2 Volume Boxed Set?
Excellent, except... Feb 23, 2008
These volumes are an excellent continuations to volumes I and II. They are a great addition to the library of anyone interested in uniformology or the Napoleonic wars. There is only one caveat. When I purchased vols. I and II, they were a newer printing, with better binding, an extended index, and an attractive, cloth bound, gold filigred display case. These volumes are the original publishing, which I find less attractive, and which do not match my other set. However, this is a total nitpick, as it is the inside of a book that counts (and, also, I believe they haven't yet published the matching 2nd and 3rd volumes to my vols. 1 and 2, nor do I know if they ever will.) The books are full of beautiful, accurate illustrations of and much information about Napoleon's allies and enemies. Including the armies of Westphalia, Sweden, and many others that are rarely seen in publications of the era. I also highly recommend vols I and II.
poor binding - Greenhill 2007 vol I - II Dec 17, 2007
(Important - this review does apply to 2007 Greenhill, edition of Vol 1-2!) Everyone knows what the book is about. The set is intended for serious collectors, and it was quite disappointing to find such a poor shell for such an excellent material inside. It looks like the Publisher wanted to have deluxe-like binding but at low cost. As a result you will get thin cardboard storage box covered with light cloth of inferior quality and books covered with the same cloth with no protective dust-jackets. I have no idea - why the Publisher did not use thick cardboard laminated box and laminated dust-jackets. I wonder how long will this cloth stand intensive reading and skipping over. To my mind - you will need to order custom-made covers quite soon. It was very bad idea, in particular, to cover the box with cloth of such quality - if you put the box on bookshelf and intend to use books often, the lower part of the box will wear out quite soon. As mentioned before "protective" box is made of thin cardboard, offers very little protection to book and may cause transport damage if carelessly packed (like mine, obtained from this site). Apart from crease and bump to the box (what caused ugly bump to book corner - due to the poor material of the box) one volume has some awful dark stain on cloth cover (books are delivered sealed!). This will not increase the value of the set, which is not coffee table. It looks like binding company employees have some problems with washing hands and cleaning work place. So, if you are serious collector and have extra money - try to obtain "heavy duty" first edition rather than this example of cost cut-minded publishing and underpaid Chinese printing / binding industry. If you do not have extra funds - try to obtain this set at less price and be prepared to order new covers in the future.
An excellent collection of Napoleonic Uniforms Oct 2, 2007
I had purchased the original edition (all 4 volumes) when it was first released. These 4 volumes represent a sizeable and credible amount of documentation on the broad sweep of Napoleonic uniforms. The earlier reviews says it all - a must have for the Napoleonic library uniformologists. There are caveats, however, on the quality of the documentation and the drawings. Honestly, the captions are adequate only. One should be familiar with Napoleonic uniforms in general to fully appreciate the limited captions for each drawing. There are infrequent references to modern day American forces parlance which is out of context. There are also some errors in identifying bits of items. The accuracy of the uniforms is based on usually secondary sources - generally accurate but there will be nitpickers who will spot the occasional errors, slip ups and variations. The drawings themselves are quite attractive - rough sketches done up in watercolour washes. Thus, the precision required by reenactors and model makers (number of buttons, exact shade of colour etc) is not there. Some of the drawings are obviously repeated poses done with different uniforms. I have given this set 5 stars, based collectively on the amount of documentation versus the cost - truly a bargain.
Greenhill's New Edition of John Elting's "Napoleonic Uniforms" Sep 30, 2007
"There are three sorts of uniforms for every period of history: those described in uniform regulations; those shown by the artists of that period; and that the soldiers really wore." Roger Forthoffer
In the early 1950s, John Elting, who was teaching at West Point, was put in touch with Herbert Knötel, the son of the famous uniformologist, Richard Knötel. Herbert was living in war-ravaged Berlin and was trying to make a living selling military art. Colonel Elting initially began ordering two watercolor pictures every month from Knötel. He was able to convince his wife that he should increase the number he ordered every month, because he needed them for his work as a professor and that they would make a nice collection. Colonel Elting decided that he wanted the collection to be representative of the Napoleon's Grande Armée and began commissioning Mr. Knötel to paint specific uniforms or units for him. Mr. Knötel died in 1963, but during the decade before he died, he had painted over 1500 watercolors of the Napoleonic Era that were purchased by Colonel Elting. Over 900 of these paintings were of La Grande Armée and they form the basis of this book.
Napoleonic Uniforms consists of two massive volumes, each with over 450 color plates. Virtually every type of unit and the different uniforms they wore is represented. Not surprisingly, the Imperial Guard has the largest number of illustrations, with 173 plates. Colonel Elting did not just include the French units. The foreigners who served with La Grande Armée are also well represented with 144 plates!
Volume I is devoted mostly to the combat arms and is broken into five parts:
Part Topic of Plates Number of Plates
1 The Royal Army 18 2 Emigrant Troops 7 3 Revolutionary Troops 39 4 The Army of Egypt 46 5 La Grande Armée: Command and Staff 51
5 La Grande Armée: Light Infantry 37
5 La Grande Armée: Line Infantry 57
5 La Grande Armée: Special Infantry Units 21
5 La Grande Armée: Chasseurs-à-Cheval 44
5 La Grande Armée: Hussars 60
5 La Grande Armée: Dragoons 29
5 La Grande Armée: Lancers 19
5 La Grande Armée: Heavy Cavalry 31
Total Plates in Volume 1: 459
Volume II finishes Part 5 and ends with Part 6. Two-thirds of the plates in this volume cover either the foreign units or the Imperial Guard.
Part Topic of Plates Number of Plates
5 La Grande Armée: Artillery 28
5 La Grande Armée: Engineers 14
5 La Grande Armée: Gendarmes, Police, and Disciplinary Organizations 24
5 La Grande Armée: Service Troops 22
5 La Grande Armée: Foreign Troops -- Foreign Regiments 19
5 La Grande Armée: Foreign Troops -- Swiss Units 29
5 La Grande Armée: Foreign Troops -- Miscellaneous German Units 12
5 La Grande Armée: Foreign Troops -- Italians 8
5 La Grande Armée: Foreign Troops -- Poles 21
5 La Grande Armée: Foreign Troops -- Lithuanians 6
5 La Grande Armée: Foreign Troops -- Balkan Troops 17
5 La Grande Armée: Foreign Troops -- a Sepoy 1
5 La Grande Armée: Foreign Troops -- Spaniards 19
5 La Grande Armée: Foreign Troops -- Portuguese 5
5 La Grande Armée: Foreign Troops -- King Joseph's Spanish Units 7
5 La Grande Armée: National Guard, Schools, and Guards of Honor 25
5 La Grande Armée: the Navy 15
5 La Grande Armée: the Imperial Guard 173
6 The Royal Army 1814 - 1830 13
Total Plates in Volume II: 458
Herbert Knötel first sketched the figure in pencil and then painted the image with watercolors. Since the paintings are one of a kind and were not meant for mass production, you can often see the pencil lines faintly in the background. You also can see faint traces where the painting was secured in a photo album. Occasionally, the corner of the plate is slightly crumpled. Below each figure would be a hand-written caption stating what the figure was. Interestingly, if you look closely you can see where the original pencil caption had been erased and someone wrote over it with ink. Unfortunately, there is no indication if this was done by the artist or later on by Colonel Elting. These are not imperfections that detract from the value of the plates. Instead they leave the reader with a sense that he has the privilege of viewing someone's much treasured, private collection.
Each plate consists of a single mounted or foot figure. There is no background scenery and there is no ground-- all there is are the figures themselves. As mentioned already, the plates cover a wide range of units and uniforms. They depict the soldier in every type of uniform - whether on parade, in the midst of a campaign, or the mundane everyday chores that are the life of a soldier on garrison duty.
Some of the choice of plates were a bit surprising - such as one of a regimental fencing master and another of a senior blacksmith. But this just adds to the charm of the collection. One of my favorites is a line infantry soldier who is foraging. He is sitting bareback on a small horse, with a pig draped over the front and a couple of geese slung over his soldier. All the plates contain incredible detail and the faces are filled with expression. Those soldiers that are on campaign are often shown to be scruffy - even with a touch of five o'clock shadow on their faces - while those on parade are spit and polish.
Below each plate is a short paragraph providing a few lines on the history of the unit and about the uniform itself - whether it is compliance with the uniform regulations or if not, how it is different.
This edition includes a functional index in each volume. It has entries for the different nationalities, different types of troops, and personalities. It does not list specific units or regiments, but instead refers the reader to the contents at the beginning of each major part.
Napoleonic Uniforms closes with a short essay on sources and a glossary. I found the essay fascinating because it compares the styles and the accuracy of numerous different artists. He closes with a bit of advice:
"You will find inconsistencies in the best sources. Variations are inevitable, even for the same unit during the same year. An infantry regiment might have one battalion at its depot, handsomely uniformed according to a compromised between regulations and its colonel's whims; another battalion on the Polish frontier would be in patched field uniforms; a third in Spain would be improvising shoes from raw cowhide and cutting up the cloaks of dead Spaniards for trousers. Some of the colors in the original drawings may no longer accurate: crimson fades to a pink; pigments containing white lead will turn black. Also, officers often wore their old uniforms into the field, and the best artists sometimes made mistakes. But there are lost collections to rescue and new discoveries to be made."
The book is quite stunning! From its gold embossed red cloth covers with stitched binding to its beribboned red slip case it is destined to be a collector's item very quickly! I have both the original edition of "Napoleonic Uniforms" and Greenhill's new release; the originals were not as nicely packaged. The originals are extremely scarce and if you can find a copy, it will be a very expensive purchase. The cheapest used copy will cost over $700, while 'new' ones are being offered for $1750. I strongly recommend that you do not delay in ordering your copy of this new edition. If you do not order it now, in a few years you will be looking at used copies going for four or five times of what they cost today.
NAPOLEONIC UNIFORMS Vol III & IV Jul 14, 2000
These are the long awaited follow-up of Vol I & II. They cover extensively the little known Confederation of the Rhine, The French Allies, and the foes of Napoleon. The one disappointment was the lack of (only two) plates covering the Ottoman Turks. It is a must have for anyone that paints figures from the Napoleonic era.