Scouting on postcards – The Davidson Brothers Boy Scout Series

Searching for gaming scenarios for Scouting Wide Games for the Tabletop Project, I came across these interesting postcard images on various online auction sites and their archives.

I already owned the Boy Scouts: Changing Guard postcard in my Scouting collection. When I researched this first postcard, I realised they were part of a wider series.

They were published by Davidson Brothers of London and New York, printed in England (rather than Germany), a printer who flourished from 1901-1911. This makes them early in the history of scouting.

These captioned and staged scenes (using the same real Scouts?) in a series feel almost like stills from a silent film.

They give a good idea of how field days and wide games were played out in the 1908-1911 period, perfect for our Wide Games scenarios.

It is fascinating to see the role that the bicycle Scouts played (no doubt with their Cyclist badge).

This was the Boy Scout haversack age, as well as that of the bicycle.

Note the hound!

The white clad Scoutmaster (looking straight out of the Mid West USA) is obviously a different leader from the other tall, thin clergyman Scoutmaster, suggesting these were different troops or photo shoots.

I also own this bicycle Boy Scouts postcard “Ready for Duty” with the scouting hound and striking looking Scoutmaster – pure Keystone Cops! A reproduction or reprint from Cotton Cards Bournemouth 1983 also exists.

Interesting to see the scout bugler with his haversack. Staffs or staves out, some other large parade illustrations show the Boy Scout hat on top of the staff. Huzzah!

Apart from the first “Changing Guard” and “Ready for Duty” I do not currently own these cards in my eclectic early Scouting and Guiding collection. They are not particularly cheap, sometimes £15 a card or more, but I will keep looking for affordable examples.

The screenshot images were taken from my uniform research using various online sites such as EBay and Etsy over several months, as I had or have no great desire to own them all.


The Davidson Brothers postcard series are good visual reference for my Scouting figures for my Scouting Wide Games.

The silent film ‘stills’ feel to these cards offer some future gaming ideas and obviously reflect drill or practice at the time, based on my random collection of photographic snaps at the 1910s WW1 era.


Similar story or narrative type photos can be found in the 1910 era Guide manual, illustrating camp or rescue situations that may occur. I featured these first aid scenarios in a separate blog post, such as this one:

Rendering First Aid – Scenario image from the first edition of The Girl Guide Handbook – How Girls can help to build up the Empire (1912)

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 1970s British Cub Scout (Bronze Arrow, retired) 17 June 2022.

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