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If you have an historical or collecting interest in early American police equipment and its development, and for argument's sake are limited to one and only one book on the subject, this is the book to have. "American Police Equipment: A Guide to Early Restraints, Clubs & Lanterns", by Matthew G. Forte, is at the top of a very short list. If you have this book and no other, you stand head and shoulders above those who have every other book yet not this one.
The writing is lucid and literate yet not esoteric or technical. The style has a natural, smooth flow, enabling Mr Forte to impart a wealth of information without overwhelming the reader or taxing the reader's patience.
Of particular appeal is the format used in the chapters on billy clubs and night-sticks, handcuffs, mechanical nippers, chain nippers and police lanterns. An historical introduction, elaboration and summary precede a photographic gallery of actual items, one per page. Accompanying each item are an informative description, the date on which the item was patented, the first and last years in which advertisements for the item appeared, an approximate lower and upper market value, and a reference to the item's actual patent drawing as it exists in the United States Patent Office files.
Whilst the book comprises much more, this in itself makes the book essential. Apart from a few public museums and an even fewer, inaccessible private collections, so many scarce and rare items will not be found together in the same place. "American Police Equipment" is a work of the highest quality in every sense, as evinced by the not merely widespread but universal acclaim and praise it accordingly has garnered since its publication.
John J Tower advertisement c 1876
Beans Dress Club J P Lovell catalog c 1880
Bissels sole leather billy club W S Darley catalog c 1920s
Hiatt Company Ltd business card c 1900
Beans Improved Handcuffs Harrington Richardson 1926
MarlinDaley handcuffs Marlin Firearms catalog 1915
Albany New York Police Department 1901