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

image right.

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

                       'Acorn' is that it represents the English Oak,

                       the main building material of Royal Navy ships

                       at the time of sail.

                       The 'Acorn' size and shape varies significantly,

                       dependant upon the size of 'Star' and the maker.

Two styles of six pointed 'Stars'.
'Star & Acorn' from a 20 Gallon Grog Tub.
Curved edge of lid.
Underside of lid - 20 Gallon Grog tub.
Top surface of lid - 20 Gallon Grog tub.
Water measured into the Grog Tub.

The Lid:  Grog tub lids were made from a

                    number of oak slats, the slats connected

                    together with wooden dowels.

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

second right.

                                                                                                                     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 a larger 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.

Band joints at rear of the tub.
Star & Acorn from the 'King' tub.
Underside of lid of 'King' tub.

'King' Grog Tubs.

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,

Brass Bands:   

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

Bless Her'.

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

                                   the tub.


                                                                                                                       A matching dark band also travels around

                                                                                                                       the circumference of the base, where it

                                                                                                                       meets the upright staves.


                                                                                                                       The upright staves and base have become

                                                                                                                       discoloured due to the addition of caramel

                                                                                                                       to the rum at the Victualling yards.

                                                                                                                       My belief is that the area of damage is

                                                                                                                       caused by the mixing of water and neat

                                                                                                                       service rum, inside the tub, during the

                                                                                                                       process of making grog.

                                                                                                                       Whatever was used to stir the mix has

                                                                                                                       damaged the walls of the tub, and also

                                                                                                                       marked the base.