In the Victorian era, police in London carried truncheons about one-foot long called billy clubs, this name is first recorded in 1848 as slang for a burglars’ crowbar. This is a superb example, the wood has so much age and is so smooth that it looks like leather. Measures 29cms long.
Before the 1970s, a common use of the police baton was to strike a suspect’s head with a full-force to stun them or knock them unconscious. However, this practice had two major liabilities. First, there was a high risk and incidence of death or permanent injury and second, there were problems with reliability, as head strikes that didn’t disable the suspect were found to merely escalate the encounter. Well known trainer Arthur Lamb once stated:
I’ve trained over 200 police departments, comprising over ten thousand men. In every class, I ask the officers if they’ve ever seen a subject subdued with one blow to the head. None of them ever have. What you’re doing when you hit a man in the head is first, creating a serious danger of death, and second, you’re numbing the one part of the body that can stop him. If you use my method with one or two strikes and step back, he realizes that the thing has gone against him, and the confrontation is over. But if you hit him in the head and put him into a state of shock where he is almost immune to pain, and now enraged beyond reason, the only thing left for you to do is beat him into the ground. This is why so many police brutality charges came about when batons were used the old-fashioned way.