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Donald Featherstone
Jun 06, '21

Donald Featherstone

Donald Featherstone (wargamer)

This article is about the British author of books on wargaming and military history.

Donald F. Featherstone (20 March 1918 – 3 September 2013) was a British author of more than forty books on wargaming and military history.


Donald Featherstone was born on 20 March 1918 in London. and during the Second World War, he joined the Royal Armoured Corps. An account of his war experiences can be found in his book Lost Tales.[2] Professionally a physiotherapist living in Southampton, Featherstone was first introduced to wargaming by reading H. G. Wells' Little Wars and his first opponent was his brother. His second opponent was Tony Bath many years later in 1955. His wife saw a description of a solo wargame being played in Southampton by Tony Bath and Featherstone then got in touch.

Tackle Model Soldiers This Way 1963

In 1960 the two of them began editing the UK version of the War Game Digest, a seminal wargaming newsletter started by Jack Scruby in the United States. Featherstone expressed disapproval of a trend towards articles "attempting to spread an aura of pseudo-science over what is a pastime". In 1962, he started his own periodical, Wargamer's Newsletter. He produced this each month without a gap, with 214 editions until January 1980.

In 1961, he organised the first UK wargames convention at his home in Southampton. Two years later he organized the first National Wargames Championships Convention at a local hotel which was attended by about a hundred wargamers from all over the country.

In 1977 he was one of the founder members of the British Commission for Military History. In 1978, Featherstone appeared on the BBC to promote the hobby.

After a discussion with Paddy Griffith, Featherstone realised that wargaming as a hobby could considerably aid in understanding military history.


Donald Featherstone died on 3 September 2013, aged 95, from complications following a fall at home.

Wargames History

Early Wargames series contains a compilation of fascinating pre-Donald Featherstone wargames written between 1898 and 1940. Prior to Donald Featherstone publishing his classic book War Games in 1962 there were numerous attempts by other authors, to create wargames. H.G. Wells's 1913 Little Wars, was the best known early wargaming book, although only one of a number of early wargaming rules. The many similarities in the rules indicate that H.G. Wells was clearly familiar with some of these when devising his own rules. This book contains selected key wargames all written between 1898 and 1940 including::

Notes on the Robert Louis Stevenson Game (1898)

The Great Wargame (1908)

War Games for Boy Scouts (1910)

Little Wars (1913) by HG Wells

Sham Battle 1929 (Extract) by Lt. Dowdall and Gleason

Mechano Artillery Duel (1932)

The Liddell Hart Wargame (1935)

Captain Sachs War Game (1940

My Introduction

War Games published 1962:

I remember reading a copy from Ramsgate Public Library in father’s Ford Popular car at Ramsgate Harbour one hot summer’s evening in 1965 whilst my Dad was fixing something electrical in an seafront arcade. I was curled out on back seat for 2 hours which made it rememberable. I never looked back. I had found my passion and hobby!


The rules listed below are all the commercially available sets we have been able to trace. We have divided the rules into UK, French (yes, French) and North American publications, grouped them by publishers/designers and listed alphabetically. We have not included naval, mechanised warfare or fantasy sets. Where possible we’ve tried to give some basic information about the format of the rules. If you’ve used or still use any of the sets please feel free to drop us a line with your thoughts.

UK Rules

Aberdeen Wargames Society

1 Napoleonic Rules (advertised in Wargamers Newsletter 1975)

ADC Publications

1 Advanced Ancient Wargame Rules (published in Birmingham 1974)

Written by DJ Constable, AR Aldridge and DJ Head. 28 pages. Figure scale 1:20. Ground scale 1 inch = 10 yards. Quite WRG-ish in appearance.

Bayonet Publications

Published in Margate by Hamish Fraser editor of Bayonet, the Journal of the Horse & Musket Society. No copyright date is given but they seem to date from c.1970-72

1 World War One

2 The English Civil War (by Mike Wall). 22 pages, 12 of which are rules, the rest being details on organization. No figure scale given but suggested unit size of 42 men per infantry regiment indicates 1:20 or thereabouts.

3 Napoleonic (Tunbridge Wells Wargames Society (TWWS). Complete with templates for canister cones.

4 The Crimean War

5 ACW (TWWS). 23 pages plus several more featuring casualty graphs, canister burst charts and a template for an artillery burst "spider" (splendid!). No figure scale given. 1mm = 1 yard.

I first met Hamish Fraser in 1968 he was young man who worked for Margate Council as a printer and reprographic operative/technician. I was recommend by George Gush who I wrote to about wargames. Hamish was a big influence in my early life and guide. Hamish was into the Franco-Prussian War 1870-71 which was his specialist subject. He started the Thanet Wargames Group in 1970.

Birmingham Wargames Society

1 1500-1660 (issued c.1974)

2 Early Medieval (issued c.1974)


Written bt Ed Smith and used at the National Wargame Convention of 1967 the rules were advertised for general sale in Slingshot

1 Medieval and Ancient Wargame Rules


The rules of veteran wargamer Archie Cass appear to have been the orginal Society of Ancients set and first appeared in printed form c.1965. They were distributed through the SoA and later superseded by Tony Bath's rules, which in turn gave way to WRG.

1 Cass/Connett Ancient Rules

The Confederate High Command

Presumably the British Branch (members included Marcus Hinton)

1 American Civil War (c.1974). By B Chalkley, RG White and DA Chandler. Published by Skytrex. 33 pages including casualty tables. Figure scale 1:33. Ground scale 1mm = 1 yard. Includes details of how to make shell burst circles in three sizes, a canister cone and a shrapnel spider.


1 Wars of the Roses (c.1973). By Ed Smith. 20 pages including play sheets. Figure scale 1:25. Ground scale 1mm = 1yard

Drillbook Publications

1 1) The Age of Marlborough — European Warfare 1700-1720. Distributed by Micro-Mold c.1975.

Trevor Halsall

1 Rules For Napoleonic Wargames. First issued in 1968 and sold at the 1969 UK National Wargames Convention in Worthing. Distributed through Apex Crafts Leicester.

2 Revised edition of the above Rules For Wargamers. Napoleonic Warfare (with AM Roth). Published by Leicester Micro-models in 1972.

3 Colonial Wars (1974)

4 Gladiatorial Combat (Leicester Micro-models 1975)

5 American Civil war (LMM 1975)

Bill Lamming

Figure designer and manufacturer wrote rules with TH Houltby

1 Medieval Campaign and Battle Rules. One-to-One rules (c.1975). 15 pages.

London Wargames Section

Published by the London Wargames Section. Miniature Warfare contributors such as John Tunstill, Bish Iwazsko, Carl Reavley etc had a heavy input into these rules, which were used at a number of national conventions during the late-1960s.

1 Ancient & Medieval (1968) — rules dropped by 1974 presumably because of popularity of WRG.

2 Napoleonic c. 1813 (issued 1970). Probably an amended version of the original British Model Soldier Society Napoleonic rules issued in 1966 for the UK National Convention.

3 American Civil War 1863 (by John Tunstill c.1970). 20 pages. Figure scale 1:33. Ground scale 1mm = 1yard. Partly based on Captain Livermore’s American Kriegspiel rules.

4 Ancient Rules Roman supplement.

5 Samurai (by Sid and Ken Smith). Issued c.1974. Early one figure equals one man skirmish set. 18 pages.

Dave Millward

Millward was the founder of the Pike & Shot Society. These rules were published by Routier.

1 Rules For Period 1500-1660 (With Nigel Jackson and Paul Kay). Issued 1972

2 God’s Acre. Feudal 1000-1300 (issued 1975). 34 pages. Figure scale 1:20. Ground scale 1inch = 10yards.

3 Condottieri. Medieval 1300-1500 (issued 1975)

4 Musketeer. Pike and Shot (issued 1975)

Reed Rules

Rules designed by Stephen and Julian Reed of Sussex.

1 Napoleonic 1796-1815. Issued 1970

2 Medieval Skirmish Rules (c.1975)

3 War of the Spanish Succession in 15mm (c.1975)

Shire Publications. Rules For Wargames

By Arthur Taylor. The same size and format as the "Discovering…" series. Covers ECW, Marlburian, Napoleonic, ACW, Mechanised, naval and air warfare. Published 1971. A very simple set of rules that do not include morale. Fight it out to the last man just like in the old days.

Skirmish Wargames

Written and published by Bristol gamers Mike Blake, Ian Colwill and Steve Curtis. Still in use and damn fine too, in our opinion.

1 Western Gunfight Rules (First edition 1970. Second Edition 1971)

2 The Colonial Skirmish Wargame Rules 1850-1900 (With Ted Herbert) (1972)

South London Warlords

1 19th Century Warfare (c.1973)

Steve Tulk

1 Napoleonic Wargame Rules (c.1973)

Wargamer’s Newsletter

Rules published by Don Featherstone. They adhere closely to Featherstone’s tenants of simplicity. Re-issued as a collection by Athena Books in the 1980s.

1 Ancient Wargames 1000BC to AD 900. Tony Bath.

2 Medieval Period. Tony Bath

3 1750 Period in Europe and North America. Tony Bath

4 Napoleonic Wargames. Don Featherstone

5 American Civil War. Don Featherstone

6 Late 19th Century Warfare including colonial battle with natives. Don Featherstone

7 1917 Period In German South West Africa. Don Featherstone.

Wargames Research Group

Began life as the Ancient Wargames Research Group and then branched out. Phil Barker, Ed Smith and Bob O’Brien launched the first set of Ancient rules at the Worthing National Convention in 1969 and they quickly became the standard set for the period.

1 WRG Rules For The Ancient Period 1,000BC to 1,000AD. 1st to 4th edition (1969, 70, 71, 73). The first two editions are in Imperial measurements but the set went metric from 3rd edition meaning the first base size alteration in wargame history. There was a medieval supplement that was issued around 1970. The first set of army lists was published in 1977.

2 WRG Rules For The Period 1750-1850 (first published 1971)


French Rules

Societe de Collectioneurs de Figurines Historiques

1 Le Kriegspiel. These rules were written by Pierre Foure and published in Paris in 1964. Pat Condray of Maryland published an English translation later in that same year. The English language edition ran to 36 pages. No details of period or style, but we’d love to hear about them in any language.


Canadian & US Rules

Bowden & Ray

Well-known Texan gamers Scotty Bowden and Ken Ray produced a series of rules c.1974

1 JEB. ACW rules. The second edition appeared in 1975. First edition described as "the most popular ACW set ever released" in 1974 adverts.

2 Minutemen: Don’t Tread On Me. American War of Independence rules

3 Coeur De Lion. The Crusades 1000-1300

4 Empire. Grand tactical Napoleonic rules. Issued 1975. 57 big pages including army lists. Ground scale 1 inch = 40 yards. Figure scale 1:60. Illustrated with nice pictures of Hinton Hunt figures.

John C Candler

1 Miniature Wargames Du Temps De Napoleon. Issued 1964. No figure scale is given but 20 figures form and infantry battalion so about 1:33. No ground scale either but infantry in line advance 3 inches per turn. A famous early set of rules that were self-published by the author in Ohio and presented in their own rather nice dark green ring binder so that additional sheets and amendments could be added. Nicely illustrated with photos of 30mm Scruby figures. 66 pages of rules including some for naval actions plus another 50 on history and generalship. There’s even an address book at the back listing all the wargamers the author knew of. The author proposed that other rule sets would follow but sadly none ever did.

Pat Condray

The editor of Armchair General

1 The Wargame. Horse and musket rules. Issued 1970.

Der Kriegspieler

Figure manufacturer best known for its (ahem!) "modified" Hinton Hunt Napoleoniques range issued two rule sets compiled by Duke Siefert and others in the early-1970s

1 Frappe! "A Miniature Wargame Of Tactical Manoeuvre In The Napoleonic Era". Written by Ray Johnson. The Wargamers’ Library Volume One. Ground scale Figure scale 1:10 no ground scale given. Illustrated with pictures of Kriegspieler figures. Designed to be played on a hexed terrain board. 31 pages of rules plus appendices on armies, accessories etc. According to a review in The Courier in Frappe the 12pdr has a range of 9 feet and hussars charge 48 inches. A big table clearly required!

2 Napoleonique "A Miniature Wargame Of Strategical-Tactical Manoeuvre In The Napoleonic Era". (This set was re-issued as "Napoleonique Encore" in the 1990s)

Fantasy Games Unlimited

1 Gladiators. Skirmish rules by Hugh McGowan c.1975

Richard Hill

1 Bullets & Bayonets. Napoleonic set produced c.1972. Used at West Point, apparently.

Robert W. Jones.

1 La Jeu De La Guerre. Issued c.1972.


1 Ancient Warfare (1975)

Designed and written by Arthur Hendrick, play tested by the New England Wargamers Association. Battles from earliest times to 1400. Also includes Middle Earth (but we’ll draw a veil over that). Figure scale 1:50. 39 pages including 5 of army lists.

Panzerfaust Publications

1 Grand Army. By Don Lowry and Pete Rice. Rules for big ACW and Napoleonic battles using 9mm or 15mm figures. 1975.

Fred J Platel

1 Kriegspiel: A wargame! A mimic battle with miniature soldiers. Issued in 1952. Sadly we have no other details.

Jack Scruby

Pioneer gamer, figure designer and manufacturer and publisher of various wargame magazines including The War Game Digest

1 Rules For A Strategic-Tactical Wargame. First issued 1961. 12 page rule booklet promising "a new depth" to miniature battles. Doesn’t seem to have been period specific.

2 Fire & Charge. Horse and musket rules. First issued in 1964.

Systems Analysis

1 Joue, Feu, Chargez. Napoleonic Rules by DA Starr c. 1975.

Tactical Studies Rules

Published in Canada. TSR were behind Dungeons & Dragons but began in the real world.

1 Chainmail (Gary Gygax and Jeff Peren). Medieval skirmish rules issued in 1971. Introduced a fantasy element to later editions and the rest is history. Unfortunately.

2 Cavaliers & Roundheads (Gary Gygax and Jeff Peren). ECW rules (published c.1973). 36 pages including uniform details and drawings. Figure scale 1:20.

3 Tricolor (Rick Crane). Napoleonic Rules. C. 1974. 50 pages (about half is taken up with organization details for various armies and units). Figure ratio 1:20. Ground scale 1 foot = 150 yards. Unit sizes the same as In The Grand Manner.

4 Boot Hill. Man-to-Man action in the Old West (c.1974)

5 Classic Warfare. Rules for Ancient Warfare from the Pharoahs to Charlemagne (c.1975). By Gary Gygax. Nicely laid out and illustrated set featuring 23 pages of rules and an equal number on army lists and national characteristics.

Fred Vietmeyer

Prominent US gamer and member of the Mid-Western Napoleonic Confederation.

1 Column, Line and Square. Napoleonic rules. First published 1966.

2 The Column, Line and Square Battle Manual. Written with Judson Baum and issued in 1974

In a 1971 survey The Courier found Column, Line and Square to be the most popular rule set in the US.

The War Room

Rules For the Conduct of the Napoleonic Wargame. Issued c.1973 by company in Kansas City "employing a system for comparing morale plus casualty production probability". Large format. 24 pages.

Z&M Rules

Published in Milwaukee c.1975 and sold through the Terminal Hobby Shop.

1 The Wargamer’s Handbook (contained 20/25mm rules for Ancient, Medieval, AWI, Napoleonic, ACW and "introductory" WW2). By R. Zimmerman (No, not Bob Dylan, surely?).

2 Wargamer’s Guide to The English Civil War. William Protz, jnr. 50 pages of rules and background information.

Lou Zocchi.

US gamer and hobby store owner. Also issued a number of fantasy and sci-fi sets including Alien Space.

1 Hard Tack. ACW rules published by Lowry Hobbies in 1971. Said to be the first US ACW set, which is hard to believe.



Wellsian Wargames

Soldiers Scenery Scenarios

I must have soldier en mass! To a young boy growing up the Britain of the ‘60s this meant Airfix in 20mm and Britains in 54mm. Like so many early British wargamers I chose Airfix for wargaming and Britains for collecting.

More Choice

Very soon I was mould making and casting my own figures on Primus stove in the Dad shed. (1967)


Giovanni (John) Tiranti founded the Company in 1895, as John Tiranti & Co., in High Holborn, and within a year moved to Foley Street, London W1. He later moved to 13 Maple Street, W1, where the Company became John Tiranti Ltd. The Company remained there until 1941, when the building was destroyed by a direct hit with a bomb.

Giovanni Tiranti died in 1926, and his two sons Alec and Dom carried on. Throughout all this time the Company sold sculptor's tools, materials and equipment as well as new and antiquarian books. They also published art books. Alec designed the folding modelling stands and concentrated on the tools and publishing. Dom specialised in rare books (not just in the art field).

When World War Two started, Dom, not eligible for service because he was blind in one eye, went to America for the duration. Alec went into the National Fire Service and carried on the business in his spare time. When the Maple Street shop was blitzed, Alec moved what was left of the tools, books and equipment to Fitzroy Street. He was helped by customer Ron Dunton, who went into the ruins to help salvage what was possible before the building collapsed completely. Within six months the business was blitzed again and very little indeed was saved. Alec then carried on in a limited way at 137 Albert Street in Camden Town where he lived and converted the front bedroom to a shop. The story is told of how, in 1945 at the end of the war, sculptor Sean Crampton arrived, in uniform, to buy some tools, just in time to help unload some materials being delivered. During the Albert Street period, Alec's wife joined the business, and in fact she was a director until she retired in 1991, aged 84.

In 1945, Alec purchased the premises at 72 Charlotte Street, and what little there was of the shop in Camden Town was moved to the new premises. At this time, Alec's mother came back into the business for several years until she died. Being still Italian (and so an alien during the war) she had not been allowed to be a director of a British Company during hostilities. In 1947, Dom, back from the States, was still only interested in rare books, and so the two brothers went their separate ways. Alec let Dom have the John Tiranti Ltd name, and he used the name Alec Tiranti Ltd, the two directors being him and his wife. Within two years Dom tragically died. Meanwhile the business of Alec Tiranti Ltd flourished in Charlotte Street on all fronts, involving a lot of hard work on the part of Alec Tiranti and his wife. Bookcases were made out of packing cases due to post-war shortage of materials; boxwood tools were made on the premises entirely by hand; and, in addition to selling our own titles to the trade, we acted as trade distributors for a few other publishers with like titles.

After National Service in the RAF, Alec's son, John Tiranti, joined the Company in 1955. He worked primarily in the bookshop and developed new materials, whilst Alec concentrated on the manufacturing and publishing. Mrs Tiranti was in charge of the accounts. Parts of the Charlotte Street premises were let to other companies, but due to expansion throughout the fifties we gradually took over the whole building as well as an adjacent mews building which was used for manufacturing.

During 1958-59 John Tiranti developed the "Cold Cast Resin Metal" process which was to make such an impact on producing sculpture that was affordable. It provided an alternative to expensive bronze casting, and was available to any sculptor, amateur or professional, without the need for special equipment. It provided an improved technique to that of bronze coloured plaster casts. Gradually we offered new mouldmaking and casting materials, including, in the mid-sixties, silicone rubber. We now offer an extensive range of tools, materials and equipment for various forms of sculpture.

The bookshop was by now prospering very well and was split into a separate Company "London Art Bookshop Ltd". On the publishing side, retained by Alec Tiranti Ltd, the "Alec Tiranti list" enjoyed a very good reputation. In the late sixties, Alec developed heart trouble, but would not ease back from working. He was also a professional musician with a musical degree and between the wars did a lot of film work, as well as playing at ballrooms and dances. After years of working hard at two jobs, the war years in the Fire Service in London, and then working all hours after the war to build up the business again, his heart finally gave way and he died suddenly in the Summer of 1971.

This was another watershed in the life of the family business. In those days, a widow had to pay death duties on her husband's estate. As Alec personally owned the building at 72 Charlotte Street, we had to vacate it in order for the building to be sold. This posed many problems, and it was eventually decided to sell off the publishing and bookshop, and to concentrate purely on the sculptors' tools and materials side of the business. This was of course how, in 1895, Giovanni Tiranti had started off, being a gold medallist woodcarver from Turin. We leased a shop in Goodge Place and moved the majority of the business to Theale in 1974.

In 1981, John's daughter, Susan Tiranti, joined the family business, gained her ICSA qualification and became a director and later company secretary. In the mid-eighties, both Jonathan Lyons (Susan's husband) and Robert Chenery (John's stepson) joined the company. In 1997 Jonathan became a director of the Company. In 1999, John Tiranti decided it was time to semi-retire, and Susan Lyons took over from her father as Managing Director. Following a change of ownership in 2005 the Company relocated its headquarters to Thatcham enabling it to expand and develop new product lines. In 2006 the Company expanded its range to include new clays, glazes, kilns and equipment to meet the growing demand from ceramicists.

Alec Tiranti Ltd still aim to provide an extensive range of tools, materials and equipment for carving, modelling, mouldmaking and casting. We are always looking to introduce new materials that we feel might complement our range.


At Alec Tiranti, as fine casting plaster suppliers, we offer a wide variety of casting products, with just the items you need to carry out both simple plaster casting to more advanced methods using resins and white metals. It’s also possible to add pigment to plasters and resins, or fill them with stone or metal powders during the casting process. This will enable you to see that the colour you choose is evenly distributed throughout your creation. It also allows you to create the illusion of pure metal or stone by using a resin casting with a metal filler.

The basic concept of casting is using a negative mould to create a positive reproduction.  During the casting process, using release agents can help to prevent the casting material from bonding with the mould, and to protect the mould from damage. There are a range of techniques you can use through the casting process. For example, the “slush moulding” method can be applied to plasters and cement-based products for casting both solid or hollow. This involves pouring the casting agent into the mould and repeatedly spinning the mould throughout the curing process, thus distributing the plaster or cement around the mould in thin layers. Similar techniques can also be used with casting resins.

When crafting small objects such as jewellery and decorative items, gravity casting can be used, pouring by hand. However, bigger castings can either be built up in layers through a hollow casting process, or centripetal action can employ mechanical processes. We can provide the C300 Centricast to cast high quality models in low melt white metal alloys such as pewter, which is appropriate when casting large batches of small to medium sized items.

It is recommended to use RTV 101 silicone to obtain the best quality results, ensuring that as the Centricast spins the mould, you can see a clean spread of the molten metal throughout the mould, reducing the risk of flaws and obstructions.

For more information about casting supplies, from waxes to Jesmonite, get in touch with our technical team and we will be pleased to advise you about the variety of casting options available to you, including mouldmaking, casting and product choices.

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Jun 06, '21
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