A friend of my wife has inherited these things, which she thinks are something to do with British Army wargames “they came from a strange (and long gone) government, mostly army, surplus store in Hastings, called Malcolm Mitchell’s”.
Anyone got any ideas what they are? And are they worth anything to a collector?
Update 23rd July, 2012.
After posting links to this blog post on various forums and reading people’s comments I can now say the following. The blocks are of a type that were used as markers in British Army training exercises until at least the mid-1960s. The bits of wire were used to hold status markers (some of which can be seen in the second picture) and also as hooks making the blocks easy to lift, sometimes using sticks if the exercise was being played out on a large map or sometimes sand table.
Most of the blocks pictured would have been used to represent units and many of them bear more than a pssing resemblance to the standardised symbols used for units during WWII and after. Other markers represent terrain (the houses) or would have been used to mark movement (arrows) or arcs of fire (double arrows).
It is possible that these blocks might actually have been used in the planning of D-Day, some of the blocks that look like tanks seem to be modelled on some of the specialist armoured vehicles that were used by 79th Armoured Division on D-day and after.
For example some of the blocks in the top picture look to be based on the tanks pictured below.
As to what they’re worth, nobody had any idea though somebody suggested contacting one of the museums in the UK that have D-Day displays and might know more about these blocks.