The brass 'letters' of the Royal toast - ( When viewed on a tub the 'GOD BLESS HER' section appears on one line ).
The Royal toast: Brass letters screwed to the rim of the tub, display the Royal toast:
THE QUEEN GOD BLESS HER
( If the reigning monarch were a King - the Royal toast would of course read: THE KING GOD BLESS HIM ).
The text is arranged in two lines, the upper line displaying THE QUEEN and the lower line, GOD BLESS HER.
The two lines of text are always separated by one of the brass bands, the placement of the brass 'letters' generally being towards the middle of the area between two brass bands.
The 20 gallon tub discussed throughout this page has brass 'letters' cut and shaped from plate, but letters that have been 'cast' are also quite common, it appears especially so on larger tubs. The letters are bent to accept the curve of the tub.
There can be considerable variety between different letters of the same type, the shape of the 'Q' especially and the 'S' to a lesser degree, varieties of the position of fixing hole placement also exist.
Like all other bright work, 'letters' were re-cycled from old damaged tubs to new. On occasion, resulting in a mismatch of font styles, two differently shaped 'S' for example.
The Royal toast from the 20 gallon tub above is displayed in the images below.
I will expand a section covering 'letter' variety when time permits.
Underside of tub: The underside of the tub is made from a
number of oak slats, like the lid, connected
together with dowels.
The outer circumference of the circular base
is chamfered, the chamfered section mating into a groove cut around
the lower portion of the wall of the tub, about 1" ( 25mm ) from the
The circular edge of the base is painted red, extending down the tub
wall, below the base, to the bottom rim of the tub, as shown in the
A red band is also painted onto gallon wicker covered jars and the
inner rim of rum casks, to denote that they contain rum, it is not
unreasonable therefore, to assume that the red band on the base of
a grog tub is for the same reason, however I consider that in this case
the red band has a traditional significance.
Red band Painted around rim of base.
Damage to the lower end of the staves.
Washer holding Acorn captive to 'Star'. Recess in lid to accept protrusion of washer etc.
The image below left, shows the underside of the 'Star'. The shaft of the 'Acorn' passes through the 'Star' from the top to the underside, and then through the centre of a washer, as shown.
The end of the shaft is then pressed over, to expand and crimp to the washer and base of the 'Star',
In order for the 'Star & Acorn' to sit flush to the lid, a small recess is bored into the lid to accept the protrusion 'Acorn' shaft and washer, as shown in the image below right.
Wide, 'knurled' Acorn.
Slim, plain Acorn.
My findings lead me to believe that most 'Acorns' have a plain band around their girth, as shown in the image above.
The vast majority of tubs at museums etc, have plain 'Acorns', a few do however have a 'knurled Acorn', as shown in the image left.
There does not appear to be any rules or pattern, except that 'King' tubs, the few that I have seen with an 'Acorn', are all plain.
The 'Acorn': The origin and traditional significance of the
The underside of the lid has two braces at right angles to the slats, to provide additional strength and to keep the lid centrally located on the tub when in place.
The upper image right, shows the view of the top of the lid, in this case made from four slats.
The 'Star & Acorn' final can be seen in the centre of the lid - discussed below.
The lower image right, shows the underside of the same lid, both strengthening slats running vertical.
The curved edge of the lid is shown in the image below.
'Victualling Store Issue Note' for Grog Tub with Lid.
Royal Navy Grog Tubs.
Royal Navy 'Grog Tubs' were supplied in four sizes: 40, 30, 20 and 10 Gallon. The compliment of the ship or shore establishment determining the size of the tub issued.
Both the 1929 and 1939 Victualling manuals list a unique 'Admiralty Pattern' number for each of the four sizes of 'Grog Tub', without mention of the lid, presumably the lid was therefore included.
The 1951 Victualling manual however, lists the lids as separate items, presumably, at that time, a tub could be ordered without a lid, as the unlidded tub section was the part most likely to become damaged / leak.
The image left shows a 20 Gallon Royal Navy Grog Tub.
This tub was purchased along with supporting
documentation, indicating that it was one of the items sold
during the disposal of rum ration equipment, after the
cessation of the rum issue on 31st July 1970.
See 'Victualling Store Issue Note' below.
Rum issuing equipment was offered for sale to serving
members of the Royal Navy after the cessation of the Rum
Those individuals interested in purchasing equipment made
application to do so, listing the items they desired. If over
subscribed, a lottery took place.
My personal opinion is that few 'Grog Tubs' were sold in this
manner by the MOD, perhaps only those that were in
good condition, as there are so few original tubs available
today. Therefore, interest at the time provided the demand
for reproduction tubs to be manufactured - reproduction
'Grog Tubs' are discussed on a separate page.
The information that follows on this page, focuses on the tub
above left, because I am as certain as I possibly can be that
it is genuine.
However, findings from research using the photographic record
and observations at a number of Royal Navy and civilian
museums are also taken into consideration, to reinforce the
accuracy of the information provided.
Rum and water mixed to make 'Grog'.
Grog was made each day, just prior to issue.
Fresh water and neat service rum were mixed together in the 'Grog Tub',
the Grog then being issued to 'Rum Bosuns' for distribution.
'Grog' being a mixture of two parts water and one part rum, the water was
the first to be measured and then poured into the tub. The image left
shows fresh water being poured from a four gallon 'fanny' into a one
gallon 'round' measure, just visible inside the tub.
Neat service rum was added to the 'Grog Tub' after the water, usually by
inverting the 'Barricoe' over the tub - ( The 'Barricoe' already contained the correct amount of neat rum required to make up the days issue of grog, having previously been measured out in the 'Spirit Room'. Alternatively, if a smaller unit, neat service rum was measured from the wicker covered one gallon jars.
The contents of the 'Grog Tub' were then stirred, perhaps with a round measure, to mix the water and neat rum together - ready for issue as 'Grog'.
Star and Acorn final: Located centrally on the top surface of the lid, the brass 'Star & Acorn' final are
effectively the lid handle, but both items have a traditional significance.
Considering firstly the 'Star': The image left, shows a close view of the
'Star & Acorn' from the lid above.
The six pointed 'Star' fixes to the 'Lid' with
three, slotted, countersunk brass screws,
one in each alternate arm of the 'Star', as can be seen in the image left.
The origin and traditional significance of the six pointed star is best
described on Jeff Dykes web site, click the button below to view.
( At the very bottom of Jeffs page ).
In summary - the six pointed Star is a representation of the original
nautical compass rose used by the Romans.
I am very grateful to Jeff for his kind permission to use his information
on my own web site.
The shape and construction of the 'Star' should
be noted, as it is distinctly different to the 'Star of
David', six pointed 'Star', which is constructed
from two equilateral triangles, one inverted over
the other, as shown in the image first right.
The construction of the 'more pointed' version of
the RN 'Star' - discussed further, below - is shown
My observations suggest that two main
types of 'Star' were in use, a smaller, more
pointed 'Star' - these appear to have been
used on older tubs, and alarger less pointed
'Star' on more recent tubs.
However, before re-cycling became trendy,
the RN was an accomplished recycler.
'Bright work' from tubs returned as defective
was removed and reused again on new
tubs, hence it is entirely possible that the
smaller more pointed 'Start' may appear on
a relatively recent tub, as is the case on the
original tub above!
The image left shows both types of 'Star',
the more pointed version first left and the
less pointed second left.
20 Gallon Royal Navy Grog Tub.
The entire section above has been discussing 'Queen' Grog Tubs at length.
The image shown left is a Royal Navy 'King' Grog Tub.
Original 'Queen' tubs are difficult to find, original 'King' tubs even harder still.
The tub left was for sale at EPOCA Antiques in San Francisco, early in 2013.
I am very grateful to EPOCA Antiques for their kind permission to use the series of 'King' tub images left and below.
I believe that this 'King' tub is an original as it exhibits the features expected.
Stir marks and staining to the inside of the 'King' tub.
Upper surface of lid of 'King' Tub.
In determining if any particular tub is an original or reproduction, my personal opinion is that the marks to the inside of the tub are the biggest indicator - but that single piece of information does need to be considered alongside all other features.
The image left shows the classic stir marks and staining to the inside of the 'King' tub.
Original 'King' Grog Tub.
The next three images all show the lid of the 'King tub.
Image right shows the upper surface and the 'Star & Acorn'.
Most features of the 'King' lid are identical to the 'Queen' lid, discussed above: four slats, plain Acorn, 'more pointed' star etc.
The underside of the lid is shown below right and a closer view of the 'Star' below,
Generally speaking, 10 gallon tubs
had three brass bands, an upper and
middle band of the same width and
the lower band a little wider.
Some 20 gallon tubs have four bands,
the 20 gallon tub above has three, as
shown far right. The corresponding
top middle and bottom joints are
shown near right.
Larger tubs, 30 and 40 gallon, always
have four bands, usually two above
the Royal toast - 'The Queen God
The bands overlap and are riveted
together in the overlapped section,
with two, flat based copper rivets.
The rivets making up the joints in
each band usually line up at the rear of the tub, opposite the brass letters of the Royal toast.
Tubs will shrink if the timbers are not kept wet, the bands will become loose and prone to move around, some repairs see escutcheon pins driven through the bands and into the tub, to keep the bands in place.
I assume that it was common to reuse bands from tubs that had been returned as damaged, as quite often, additional old holes can be found in the bands, covered over by the present join.
Inside the tub: The image below is taken looking into the tub, towards the base.
A dark band is apparent above the point where the upright tub staves meet the base, the dark
band circles the stave uprights, at the same height, around the entire circumference of the tub.
Above the dark band is an area of damage that also travels around the entire circumference of