Admiralty Pattern numbers for Mess Kettles

( Rum Fannies ).

4 Gallon Rectangular  


1 1/2 Gallon Round


​The image above shows a Sellman & Hill Ltd, 4 Gallon steel fanny. The attached tally plate is shown above right, giving the manufacturers details and a space to scribe or stamp a 'mess number' into. There is also a tally plate on the lid, shown below the Sellman tally plate, for entering a 'mess number'.

The image below right - from Ebay - shows a second 4 gallon steel fanny. This one made by Francis and Sons Ltd. These two fannies nicely illustrate the point that although made by different manufacturers, they are identical - made to the 'Admiralty pattern'.

​The 'Francis' fanny is shown in the same condition I received my Sellman fanny. Lots of rubbing down and finally a coat of 'Owatrol' oil to prevent further corrosion.

​The image below shows the tally plate from the 'Francis' fanny, right.

The images below show two 1 1/2 Gallon round fannies made of steel, both without a lid. I would guess from the same period as the two 4 Gallon steel items above.
The left hand fanny is made by 'Willet & Robinson Ltd, Maidstone.

The right hand is made by Bradley and Co Ltd, Bilston.

Each of the two fannies below has a brass tally attached giving maker details, each tally is shown below it's respective 1 1/2 Gallon fanny. Both have a space for scribing / punching the mess name/number.

Neither of these two fannies came to me with a lid.

Willet & Robinson 1 1/2 Gallon tally.                                    Bradley & Co 1 1/2 Gallon tally.
​Tally plate from the Francis & Sons fanny.
Willet & Robinson 1 1/2 Gallon fanny.                                              Bradley & Co 1 1/2 Gallon fanny.
​Francis & Sons 4 Gallon steel fanny.
​Sellman & Hill Ltd tally plate.
My 1 1/2 Gallon and 4 Gallon Steel fannies shown together.
Mess number tally plate.

Vocabulary numbers for Mess Kettles ( Rum Fannies ).

4 Gallon Rectangular  


1 1/2 Gallon Round


Messdeck rum issue from the '1 1/2 Gallon' fanny.
( The image below left, is reproduced by kind permission of Mr David Ayres - 'Argentem' - Flickr ).

The term 'Fanny' originates from 1867 and the Admiralty's first attempts to introduced tinned meat into the service, replacing salted meat, stored in a cask.

Around the same time, a young lady named Fanny Adams had been murdered and reportedly cut up.

Jack, ever the humourist, regarded the tinned meat with great suspicion, but the name stuck!

'4 Gallon', Steel, rectangular fanny.     

The 'rum fanny' would be taken by the mess 'rum bosun' to the place of issue. There, the number of 'tots' required for his mess would be measured from the 'grog tub' and poured into his 'fanny', the 'rum bosun' returning to the mess to distribute the tot to the mess members. 

( A 'tot' being 1 1/2 gill of grog ).

The image left shows the rum issue in a messdeck.

The 'Rum Bosun', having just measured and drank his tot. The '1 1/2 Gallon' round fanny being used in this particular mess.

A large mess may require a '4 Gallon' rectangular fanny, all depends on the number of mess members.

Rum fannies may have been polished on the outside, but the inside would never have been cleaned.

One or more, '4 Gallon' fanny's containing water would be taken to the grog tub, the water used for mixing with the days allowance of rum, to make grog.

A little water may have been kept back to place into the tub after the grog issue was completed, to keep the timbers wet.

An even earlier variant exists in the photographic record, made of steel, shown in the image below left.

Reinforced '4 Gallon', aluminium fanny.                                 Base section of '4 Gallon' fanny, left.   

Photographic records suggest that 'Fannies' of the type shown above, came into service in the early 1950's, exact date unknown to me.

Prior to the type shown above, the '4 Gallon' variant shown below, was in use, as far as I am aware, there is not a '1 1/2 Gallon' Fanny of similar construction.

The body of the Fanny is reinforced, as the handle bracket extends from one side of the pot, under the base to the other, it is riveted at several points.

The 'long side' of the Fanny' is reinforced also, forming a cross on the base, as can be seen in the image below right.

'4 Gallon' Rum Fanny.                                                        '1 1/2 Gallon' Rum Fanny.

The image above shows the '4 Gallon' and '1 1/2 Gallon' Mess Kettles.

The bodies and lids of both sizes are constructed from heavy gauge aluminium, the carrying handles are made of steel, as are the lid lifting handles of the '4 Gallon' fanny.

The official name for both items, given in the Admiralty Victualling Manual, is 'Mess Kettle', however the term 'fanny' is used with most recepticles.

Mess Kettles were used for a variety of tasks in the RN, the ones used for the rum issue being known to 'Jack' as 'Rum Fannies'.


 'Four Gallon' rectangular and 'One and a Half Gallon' round, Royal Navy 'Mess Kettles' - ( Rum Fannies ).