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Over the past 15 year, Dave C. George has compiled three volumes of his book “Carvings From the Veldt”, documenting nearly a thousand carved rifles from the Boer War. This is feature almost unique to the Boer War, in which the Boers were really much more of a civilian militia than a formal standing army, and were expected to provide their own weaponry. As private property and not Army issue, they often enjoyed embellishing the stocks of their rifles with their names, dates of battles, and coats of arms or other decoration. The practice spread to the British Empire troops who fought, as many were allowed to keep their rifles at the end of the war.
There is a huge variety in the style and quality of the work done on these guns (they are mostly rifles, but Volume 2 and 3 include some handguns as well), and George has created a remarkably extensive catalog of them in this work. In addition, he has worked to research the personal histories of the men who carried the guns. Some carved only initials, and cannot be identified, but others provided enough information that George was able to provide some very interesting personal histories of the war.
All three volumes are available currently, through the author’s web site. For the collector or historian interested in South Africa, the Boer War specifically, or the British colonial period in general, I think they are an excellent set to have!
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