'Ticker Off' board: The image right was kindly provided
by a site reader.
It shows the Seaman's Mess of
HMS Tiger in 1965.
Sitting left of centre is the mess 'rum bosun', holding the mess 'ticker off' board.
The 'ticker off' board listed the names of those mess members entitled to the 'tot'. While the 'rum bosun' was measuring and passing out the 'tot', his assistant, the 'ticker off', ticked off each person as they received it.
It was tradition to offer the 'rum bosun' and 'ticker off' 'sippers' of your tot.
A four gallon rum fanny can just be seen to the left of the image.
Cask dipping stick: Casks were stored in the 'Spirit Room', bung up, on their sides, in 'Stillage's'.
Empty casks were filled at the Victualling yards, for distribution, the contents being scribed
into one end of the cask. ( The Victualling yards filled a cask by weight rather than by
measure, for accuracy ).
A fellow collector and Ex Victualling CPO, Mr Neil price, advises that once a new cask was opened, strictly in date received order, the cask was 'dipped' with a notched broomstick, to ascertain the fill level. The broomstick being
marked along it's length to show gallons and pints.
The cask contents, according to that measured by the stick, was recorded and compared to the scribed contents.
If required, the cask would be topped up to the marked contents, the quantity of rum necessary to bring the contents back to the marked contents was recorded as the 'Required To Fill'.
Any difference between the two readings may have been caused by evaporation or the spirit soaking into the cask, or
perhaps a short measure by the dockyard!
I do not have an image to show, but if anyone does, I would be pleased to put it on the site.
Service issue Sikes Hydrometer.
Sikes Hydrometer: The image right shows a service
issue Sikes Hydrometer.
The Sikes Hydrometer was used to
ascertain the strength of the rum.
A hydrometer was supplied to all ships commissioning for
foreign service, and for those in home waters, to flagships
and depot ships only,
The 1929 and 1939 editions of BR 93 both list the Sikes
Hydrometer as 'Admiralty Pattern Number 39'.
The 1951 edition retains the same AP number but also
gives a Vocabulary number - 52571.
The Hydrometer is listed as 'Hydrometers, Sykes (sic),
brass, with weights and thermometer in mahogany box,
In addition, the 1951 edition also lists - 'Hydrometers,
Sykes (sic), accessories :- Books of Tables' - as being
Vocabulary number 52572, and 'Measures, glass' - listed
as Vocabulary number 52575.
The component parts of the set are marked with the manufacturers unique serial number, but the Vocabulary number does not appear on the set or box.
The Hydrometer shown was manufactured by T.O. Buss, another known manufacturer being T.O. Blake.
1/2 Pint Tot Glasses - filled to 11/2 Gill, ready for issue.
Tot Glass: The image left shows 'tots' pre poured at
the Grog Tub, ( the Victualling ratings
can be seen in the background using the
11/2 Gill Bakelite measure to pour the
correct amount into the Tot Glass.
The 'Tot Glass' was a half pint tumbler, listed in the Admiralty Victualling Manual - BR 93, Vocabulary Number 51978.
The Tot issue was carried out in a number of different ways, usually dependant upon the size of ship.
When the Tot was issued in a Messdeck, from a Rum Fanny, neither the inside of the Fanny nor the Glasses were washed out, both took on a brown stain from the rum.
When the Tot was issued from a central location, as left, very likely the Tot Glasses were put through the dishwasher, at the end of the issue.
It is my belief that Tot Glasses were not marked with their Vocabulary number - I would be very happy to hear if anyone knows differently.
Service issue Eyebrow Corkscrew.
Eyebrow The image right shows a Service issue
Corkscrew: Eyebrow Corkscrew.
Corkscrews are listed in the 1929 Naval
Victualling Manual as Admiralty Pattern
The 1929 Victualling Manual lists the same pattern
number of corkscrew for use by Officers and Senior
Rates, hence the same corkscrew.
The same applies with the 1939 Victualling Manual, the
same corkscrew for all ranks.
The corkscrew in the image right has a Vocabulary
number impressed - 51221, therefore must date to the
early 1950's or later.
I have not been able to discover if the corkscrew
shown right, known to be 1950's or later, would be the
same as the type of corkscrew in use in 1929 or '39.
It very likely is, as the design of the Spirit Pump, for example, changed little over many years, it appears that once the Admiralty found a design it liked, it stuck with it.
As far as rum memorabilia is concerned,this type of corkscrew would be used to remove the cork from the one gallon, wicker covered jars.
Several manufacturers made the RN eyebrow corkscrews over a number of years, probably the most prolific being
C.T. Willetts Ltd.
Base of the 1/2 Gill Bakelite measure.
Base of 11/2 Gill Bakelite measure.
11/2 Gill and 1/2 Gill Bakelite spirit measures.
Bakelite Spirit The image left shows two Bakelite Spirit Measures: Measures.
The tallest measure, on the left side of the
image, is a 11/2 Gill measure, the smaller
on the right, a 1/2 Gill measure.
My first record of the 11/2 Gill measure in service, is the 1939 edition of the Naval Victualling Manual, BR 93.
It is officially listed as 'Measure, Spirit, Composition, 11/2 Gills'. The issue quantity was one per mess.
At that time, it did not have an 'Admiralty Pattern' number, the forerunner of Vocabulary numbers.
The 11/2 Gill was used to measure a tot of Grog for 'Junior' rates - those below Petty Officer - it's side walls were very thin and hence was prone to cracking in use.
My next record of the 11/2 Gill Bakelite measure is the 1951
edition of BR 93. By this time, Admiralty Pattern numbers had largely been replaced by Vocabulary numbers.
The measure was still referenced as Measure, Spirit, Composition, 11/2 Gills, but now had a Vocabulary number.
The image left, shows the base of the 11/2 Gill Bakelite measure.
The capacity is marked as 11/2 Gills and the Vocabulary number is given - 51642.
The capital letters 'BLD' are the mark of the maker - Birkby's Ltd, still in business today.
The 11/2 Gill Bakelite measure remained in service until the cessation of the rum issue in 1970.
I make the assumption that the initial Bakelite measures, 1939 to early 1950, were marked differently, as Vocabulary numbers were not introduced until the early 50's.
On the 'Mess Fannies' page, an image of the 11/2 Gill measure in use is shown.
The 1/2 Gill Bakelite measure, on the right hand side in the image above, was used to measure a tot of neat spirit, as Senior rates - Petty Officer and above - were entitled to draw their tot undiluted.
My first record of the 1/2 Gill Bakelite measure is in the 1951 edition of BR 93.
The image left shows the Vocabulary number for the 1/2 Gill - 51641.
This measure was also manufactured by Birkyby's, as it also carries their 'BLD' makers mark.
I have been unable to discover if this particular size of Bakelite measure remained in service until 1970.
Should anyone happen to know, I would be very interested to hear.
Spirit Ration Card: The image right shows a 'Spirit Ration Card'
or 'Tot Card'.
There were a number of different ways that
'Grog' could be distributed to those entitled.
In smaller ships, 'Grog' was distributed to mess
members by a 'Rum Bosun', more often than
not, in the mess deck.
On larger ships and in shore establishments, Grog was more likely to have been issued from a central location.
Each man entitled to 'draw' his tot was issued with a Tot Card, which he would present to the overseeing Senior Rate, so that it could be
'clipped', he would then proceed to collect and drink his tot.
The card shown left is from HMS Eagle. Each card was serially numbered and the number of the card issued to each 'Rating' was recorded.
A card lasted for two weeks, 'First Week', Friday to Thursday, on the left hand side and 'Second Week' on the right.