M.M.S. 1940  Motor Mine Sweepers?  The 'M.M.S. 1940' makers mark, found to the base of some 'round'

                                                                measures, is frequently said to stand for 'Motor Mine Sweepers', a class of

                                                                vessel that came in to service in 1940.

I do not subscribe to this idea, for a number of different reasons.

Firstly, to the best of my knowledge, no other type of vessel, either before or after 1940, is referenced to a measure, of any type / size.

The Motor Mine Sweepers of 1940 were a small class of vessel - with a compliment of 20 men. Small vessels were not issued with both types of rum measures - 'round' and 'lipped'. Small vessels were issued with 'lipped' measures only! They could however, request to be issued with 'round' measures if required.

According to BR93 ( The Manual of Vitualling ) a vessel the size of the 1940 Motorised Mine Sweepers would only be issued with a Quart, Pint, 1 1/2 Gill and 1/2 Gill, round measures ( If specifically requested ). If M.M.S. 1940 does indeed stand for Motor Minesweeper etc, then this is contradicted by the fact that there are Gallon and Half Gallon measures in the 'M.M.S. 1940' set!

Finally, reference the two images below. The image left shows the base of a brass, wardroom, 'finger bowl'. It is marked M.M.S. 1940 - ( No vocabulary number, as pre 1950's ).

The image right also shows a brass wardroom finger bowl, apart from the base markings, it is identical. It is marked VOC. No 52105  ( Vocabulary No 52105 ) M.M.S. 1956.

To the best of my knowledge, the RN did not commission a second batch of Motor Mine Sweepers in 1956! 

M.M.S. 1940 Wardroom Finger Bowl.                                                  M.M.S. 1956 Wardroom Finger Bowl.
Copper rum measure-Round-Royal Navy-Handle solder infilled
Copper rum measure-Round-Royal Navy-Handle upper joint repair
Copper rum measure-Round-Royal Navy-Handle lower fixing-External
Copper rum measure-Round-Royal Navy-Handle lower fixing-external
Copper rum measure-Round-Royal Navy-Handle upper fixing-internal
Copper rum measure-Round-Royal Navy-Handle upper fixing-external
Copper rum measure-Round-Royal Navy-handle seam
Copper rum measure-Round-Royal Navy-Handle shape
Copper rum measure-Round-Royal Navy-bottom seam
Copper rum measure-Round-Royal Navy-side seam
Copper rum measures-Round-Royal Navy
'Three Trees' ? makers mark.                                                         'Two Trees' ? makers mark.
An early 'Italic' style capacity marking font to two Victorian measures.

The two images left show a Victorian '½ Gill' ( very faded ) and a Victorian 'Gill' measure, both with a Broad Arrow.

The capacity marking font is an early form of 'Italic' - discussed later.

( Letter 'G' is slightly different ).

Many thanks to Mike at thepirateslair.com for permission to reproduce the 'Gill' image.


Some reproduction measures may also have the name of a ship inscribed - HMS Victory, for example.

Base of a promotional measure.                    Base of an alternate manufacturer.               Side of a promotional measure.

Most reproduction measures have a number of things in common.  

The capacity is marked as   GI ½ LL,  also the handle is of solid construction and brazed to the measure.

The design on the base varies according to the manufacturer / promoter, as does any additional markings to the beaker section.

Some alternate base and side markings shown below.

Reproduction Round Rum measures:    Various naval visitor attractions and maritime themed outlets offer a

                                                                   souvenir copper rum measure, usually of the type shown below.

                                                                   Commercial organisations also use similar measures for promotional

                                                                   purposes.

Reproduction measures are quite easily identifiable, as can be seen below, but increasingly, they are being sold on auction sites as genuine Royal Navy rum measures, individuals without a detailed knowledge may purchase what they think to be a small piece of naval history, often at a price close to that of a genuine measure.

Clearly, they have their place as souvenirs / mementoes, and collectable in their own right, but collectors of RN rum memorabilia should beware.

Front, rear and base views of a reproduction rum measure
George V, Broad Arrow - Abbreviated.

Before seeing the image left, I assumed that the application of Broad Arrows to round measures, ceased at the end of Edward VII reign ( 1910 ).

The Pint round measure left, has a UV marking showing 'GR' - ( George V  -  1910-1936 ).

The capacity marking is an Abbreviated style, but not the same as the Victorian/EdwardVII style - compare the 'P', image left ( upper case ) to the 'p' in the image for the 1/2 Pint and Pint Abbreviated, above.

The style of 'P' left, is used in the later 'Italic' format, see below.

Many thanks to Mr Geoff Pringle of oldnautibits.com for permission to use this image.

Vocabulary numbers for Royal Navy 'round' rum measures.


  Gallon

53169    

  Half Gallon

53170    

  Quart

53171    

  Pint

53172    

  Half Pint

53173    

  1 1/2 Gill

53175    

  Gill

 53176     

  Half Gill

53177    


'Vocabulary' numbers on the side of a One and a Half Gill round measure.
'Vocabulary' numbers on the base of a 'Gill' round measure.          'Vocabulary' numbers on the base of a 'Half Gallon' round measure.

Vocabulary Numbers:    'Vocabulary' numbers are a number system used to identify items of Naval Stores.

                                                       The predecessor of Vocabulary Numbers was 'AP' or 'Admiralty Pattern'

                                                       numbers and the successor to 'Vocabulary' numbers was NSN numbers - NATO

                                                       stock numbers.

I believe that 'Vocabulary' numbers where phased in, as far as items of rum issue equipment were concerned, in the early 1950's.

My earliest 'Vocabulary' marked measue is July 1951, a 'Square' capacity marked measure. My earliest 'Italic' 'Vocabulary' numbered measure is January 1953.

Vocabulary numbers are a five digit sequence, some example images shown below.

All round rum measures have the same first three digits, the last two digits changing to reflect the size of the measure, as shown in the table below.

All bar one of my Vocabulary marked measures have their numbers on the base, the one odd measure has it's 'Vocabulary' numbers on the side - this is the 'Craftsman with chisel' measure discussed in the Manufacturers marks section.

PS:                The image above left shows the PS Manufacturers mark and the year 1956.

                      My oldest PS marked round measure is March 1956, the most recent, June 1957. Between those two

                      dates however, I have several PS marked measures.

                      I have not been able to discover the Manufacturer from the initials 'PS', again if anyone should know, I

                      would be very grateful to hear.




Manufacturers Marks - General:          I believe that a few of the manufacturers above were making round measures

                                                                for the Royal Navy long before they were allowed to add their Manufacturers

                                                                marks.

                                                                There are distinctive features on both the PS and G&C round measures that

                                                                match earlier round measures, without Manufacturers marks - for example, the font used to impress the PS marked round measure - 'Vocabulary' numbers, is very distinctive, it can also be found on measures that do not have a Manufacturers mark, from the same era.

'PS' Manufacturers mark.
'G&C' Manufacturers mark and 'Tap and Barrel' like Logo -Gaskell and Chambers.
'WRP' Manufacturers Mark.

Manufacturers marks used on 'Square' style round measures:


WRP:           The image below left shows the Manufacturers mark WRP.

                    I have this mark on two round measures in my collection, detail from the UV numbers advises that

                    both measures were capacity tested in June 1940.

                    I have not been able to identify the maker and would again like to hear should anyone know.


G&C:           The image below right shows the Manufacturers mark G&C and the year 1953. Vocabulary numbers are

                    also present - to be discussed later in the page.

                    I have four G&C marked round measures in my collection, the oldest December 1952, the latest, 1953,

                    the month of manufacture is not possible to tell as the mark is on a One and a Half Gill measure, as such,

                    it it not UV numbered.

                    The 'barrel and tap' like symbol is also shown, which I believe is the 'trademark/logo of Gaskell and

                    Chambers.

Craftsman:   The image above left, shows what looks like a 'Craftsman with a Chisel' and advises 'Trade Mark'.

                     I have not been able to identify the manufacturer from the symbol and would be greatful to hear if anyone

                     should know.

                     This mark appears only once in my collection, on a One and a Half Gill round measure, being a One and

                     a Half Gill size, it is not UV numbered - discussed later - therefore it is not possible to tell the year of

                     manufacture.

                     The unusual feature of the measure that the 'Craftsman' mark comes from, is that it has

                     'Vocabulary Numbers' impressed into the side, as opposed to the base. 'Vocabulary Numbers to be 

                     discussed later in this page.

'Craftsman with chisel'? Trademark.
'MMS' Manufacturers mark - Midland Metal Spinners?
'BB' Manufacturers mark - Burt Brothers

Manufacturers Marks:

                                                              My collection contains marks from six different manufacturers, most of my

                                                              measures do not have a manufacturers mark at all.

                                                              My collection suggests that manufacturers marks first appeared in 1940, there

                                                              was a considerable gap, before the next set of marks appeared in 1952.

                                                              I have found three marks used on the 'Italic' and three on the 'Square'

                                                              style round measures.


Manufacturers Marks used on 'Italic' style round measures:


MMS:          The image below left, shows the manufacturers mark 'MMS' and the year 1940.

                   Only finding this mark on round measures with the 'Italic' capacity format, and only for the one year, 1940.

                   MMS marked measures are quite prolific, around a third of my 'Italic' round measures are MMS marked.

                   My research leads me to believe that 'MMS' stands for 'Midland Metal Spinners'.

                    

                   I have seen discussion around the Internet surmising that 'MMS' stands for 'Motor Mine Sweepers' - a 

                   class of vessel that was introduced in 1940. I do not subscribe to this idea, for a number of different

                   reasons, explained towards the bottom of the 'Manufacturers Marks section.

                                     

BB:             The image below right, shows the 'BB' manufacturers mark and the year 1953. The 'Vocabulary' 

                   numbers can also be seen in this image - 'Vocabulary' numbers will be discussed later.

                   Like 'MMS' above, this mark only appears on 'Italic' capacity marked measures and only for one

                   month/year - January 1953.

                   The 'BB' mark is a trademark of 'Burt Brothers'.

                   It appears that Burt Brothers made few round measures, however they made a great many of the 'Lipped'

                   measures used for measuring neat spirit - discussed on another page.  

Alternate Quart 'Square', No1                                      Alternate Quart 'Square' No2.                       

Most of the above eight examples are from the same manufacturer, made however in different years.

The two images below show some variations that I have in my collection.

 

The two images below show the capacity markings of the 'Half Gallon' and 'Gallon' measures.

½ Gallon 'Square'.                                             Gallon 'Square'.
½ Pint 'Square.                                                  Pint 'Square'.                                                      Quart 'Square'.
½ Gill 'Square'.                                                  Gill 'Square'.                                                      1½ Gill 'Square'.

The next three images below show the capacity markings for the 'Half Pint', 'Pint' and 'Quart' measures.

Square:             The round measures in my collection suggest that the 'Italic' capacity marking format did not extend

                           beyond March 1953.

                           Round measures after this time were marked with the 'Square' capacity marking format.

                           Oddly, I do have a small number of round measures from the Victorian era that are marked with the

                           'Square' font - the vast majority of Victorian measures were marked with the 'Abbreviated' font.

                           I also have a couple of George V, UV marked measures, with the 'Square' font, likewise, the

                           vast majority of George V round measures, were marked with the 'Italic' font.

                           The 'Squares' begin to appear in greater numbers towards the end of George VI reign, and apart

                           from the QEII, March 1953 Italic, mentioned above, they are the only type issued during the reign of

                           Elizabeth II, up until the cessation of the rum issue in 1970.    

                            

                           The three images below show the capacity markings for the 'Half Gill', 'Gill' and

                           'One and a Half Gill measures. 

Left: Amongst other things - a different '2'.

Right: A horizontal line between '1' and '2', also 'Gill' not 'Gills', and a different 'G'.

Left: A horizontal line between '1' and '2' and a different 'P'.

Right: A different 'R'

 

Left: Horizontal line between '1' and '2' and different 'G'.

Right: Almost 'Italic' but not quite!

 

    Most of the above eight examples are from the same manufacturer, made in the same year.

    The six images below show some variations that I have in my collection. 

1/2 Gallon Italic                                                  Gallon Italic
½ Pint Italic                                                        Pint Italic                                                            Quart Italic

    The two images below show the capacity markings of the 'Half Gallon' and 'Gallon' measures. 

½ Gill Italic                                                         Gill Italic                                                             1½ Gill Italic

    The next three images below show the capacity markings for the 'Half Pint', 'Pint' and 'Quart' measures.

Italic:                Analysis of my collection suggests that the QV/Edward VII 'Abbreviated' format was not used after the

                         reign of Edward VII - ( 1910 ). ( The image above left shows a new Abbreviated format using the

                         'P' from the 'Italic' markings that were to follow later ).   

                         An earlier, slightly different 'Italic' font is shown on the Victorian 1/2 Gill and Gill measures above,

                         these were in use at the same time as the Victorian measures with the 'Abbreviated' font.           

                         However, for the new monarch, George V, it appears that the capacity marking format changed to

                         'Italic'.

                         The 'Italic' format remained through the reign of Edward VIII ( I have not seen any Edward VIII

                         measures ) to George VI and into the reign of Elizabeth II.

                         My oldest 'Italic' capacity marked round measure is the Victorian Half Gill shown above, the next is UV

                         dated August 1913. ( George V ).

                         The most recent George VI, 'Italic', capacity marked round measure, is UV dated February 1953 - one

                         year after George VI death. ( I am uncertain why this would be so, but believe it may be a traditional 

                         mark of respect ).

                         March 1953 saw the first and I believe the last, 'Italic' capacity marked round measure from the reign

                         of Elizabeth II.


                         The three images below show the capacity markings for the 'Half Gill', 'Gill' and

                         'One and a Half Gill' measures. 

My own 'Abbreviated' style round measures - ( QV & Edward VII ) - all have a 'Broad Arrow', or 'Crows Foot' impressed, as can be seen in the images above.

The 'Broad Arrow' signifies government property. A measure with a Broad Arrow could therefore have been in use with any of the British services, Army, Navy or other government department, for example, Prisons.

Therefore, it is not possible to say with certainty, that a broad arrow marked measure is a Royal Navy rum measure.


Considering 'Round Measures', the 'Abbreviated' capacity marking style was not the only stlye in use during the reign of Queen Victoria - (1837 - 1901 ).

I have three measures in my collection that have Victorian UV numbers, but have the 'Square' format of marking - see below for a discussion of UV numbers and 'Square' format capacity marking. 

The image below left, shows the final mark of the set, 'Gallon'.

( The '1½ Gill' measure was introduced some time between 1929 and 1939, as detailed earlier ).


There can be some differences to the character styles, image below centre is an alternate 'Quart'.

The image below right also shows the markings from a 'Quart' rum measure, the character that looks like a '2' is an upper case 'Cursive' style 'Q' - many thanks to Mr John Rowsell for this information.

Gallon Abbreviated                                        Alternate Quart Abbreviated                             Alternate 'Q' - Cursive upper case.
Pint Abbreviated                                             Quart Abbreviated                                            1/2 Gallon Abbreviated

The three images below show the capacity markings for the 'Pint', 'Quart' and 'Half Gallon' measures.

      1/2 Gill Abbreviated                                        Gill Abbreviated                                                 1/2 Pint Abbreviated

Abbreviated:    The three images below show the capacity markings for the '½ Gill', 'Gill' and '½ Pint' measures.

Capacity marking styles: 

                                                                               Round measures are marked to show their capacity.

                                                                               All of the round measures in my collection, have their

                                                                               capacity markings on the front of the 'beaker' section,

                                                                               180 degrees opposite the handle.

Since my earliest days of collecting, to distinguish between differing types of capacity marking styles or 'fonts', I gave each of the three main styles a name that meant something to me.

'Victorian Abbreviated', 'Square', and 'Italic'.

Regarding the 'Victorian Abbreviated': I initially observed this style on Victorian measures  only, hence the name.

( I notice this name has also been picked up by other sites ).

Having now discovered the 'Victorian Abbreviated' capacity format on measures from the reign of Edward VII, I have changed the naming of this style to 'Abbreviated'.

Handle repair - where handle meets body.                                    Filling of dents and holes. 
Handle bottom fixing - pointed.                                                      Internal view, single flat head rivet.  
Internal 'tinning', older measure.                                                    New or unissued measure - tinning shiny.

 

Tinning:                In order to prevent the spirit and the copper measure reacting, thus leaving the spirit with a 

                                   metallic taste, round measures were 'tinned' internally.

The 'tinning' inside older measures is quite thin, it may also become very dark with age, thus giving the appearance that the measure may not be tinned at all.

The 'tinning' of measures that were only lightly used, or perhaps never issued, will be shiny and bright.

See both images below.

As rivets became loose, through heavy usage or damage, quite often the measures were repaired by 'running' solder into the top of the handle, at the point where it meets the 'beaker' section.

See image below - left.

Handles that sustained large dents, or holes through persistent polishing, were occasionally filled with solder and buffed to a smooth finish.

See image below - right. 

The bottom end of the handle is normally finished off to a point and affixed to the 'beaker' section with a single, flat base, copper rivet, as shown in the two images below.

Occasionally, the bottom fixing is squared off, or even rounded, rather than pointed. 

 'Fish tale' finish and two rivets.                                                       Internal view, two flat base rivets.

The top of the handle, where it is riveted to the 'beaker' section, is usually finished off in a characteristic 'fish tale' like shape, see image below, left.

Two, flat based copper rivets, secure the upper part of the handle to the 'beaker' section.

These can also be seen in the image below left.

The internal view of the upper end, two fixing rivets, is shown in the image below right.

 The two edges of the handle now meet at a seam, which is brazed.

 The brazed seam is always on the inside of the handle, facing the measure, but not necessarily in the middle, it

 may run off centre to either side.

 Joining seam shown in image below right.

 

 Not all round measures have the standard handles described above.

 I have seen a round measure with a flat plate handle,  I suspect that this measure may have become damaged  in use and repaired on board!

 I also believe that one manufacturer ( G&C ), fitted seamless handles to round measures as standard, discussed

 later.

 

Construction of 'wall' section and base - 3 piece measure.
 
 Handle shape.                                                  Handle cross section.                      Handle seam - to inside.

The handles are generally manufactured from a single sheet of copper, they are formed to have the parallel sides of a rectangle, both ends of the rectangle closed in by a semi circle, as shown in the diagram below centre.

The width across the handles decreases from top to bottom, a slight tapering, hence becoming narrower.

Handle shape:           Generally, the shape of the handle, for all measures in the set, does not vary.

                                            See image below left.

                                            Dimensionally, the handle size varies, dependant upon the size of the measure. 

Later measures were of two piece construction, the handle and the 'beaker' like section.

Most handles were manufactured to be slightly tapered, from a single piece of copper plate, as previously, but the 'beaker' component was 'spun' on a 'turning machine', from one piece of copper plate.

( There are some very good video's of 'metal spinning' on Youtube.com ).


It is difficult to suggest a date when three piece construction was replaced by two piece construction.

Two of the three piece construction measures in my collection have markings that were in use between the late 1830's and 1879, ( See explanation of Weights and Measures markings on the W&M page ).

This may suggest that the majority of three piece measures predate the application of Unique Verification numbers, ( See the Weights and Measures page for an explanation of Unique Verification ( UV ) numbers ).

In 1879, legislation was introduced requiring the application of UV numbers. Three piece measures may therefore predate 1879?


From whatever time two piece construction replaced three piece construction, the two piece build method remained the only style, right up until the cessation of the rum issue in 1970.

The two edges of the 'wall' piece were castellated, enabling them to mesh together and, once brazed, make a stronger joint than a straight seam.

Image below left - shows the joint in the 'wall' section

The main base component was round and castellated, to mesh into the 'wall' section, this joint was also brazed.

Image below right - shows the base to 'wall' joint.

Construction:     Early measures were constructed from three pieces of copper plate.

                                    One piece forming the handle, a second piece, forming the walls of the measure, this

                                    piece was also bent to form part of the base, the third piece forming the remainder of the base.

The image above shows a full set of 'round' 'rum measures', rum measures having became the everyday term for such items - in actual fact, they are 'grog measures', as the round measure was used to measure grog - the mixture of rum and water.

In size order, the set initially comprised of seven measures:   Gallon, Half Gallon, Quart, Pint, Half Pint, Gill, Half Gill.

The 1929 edition of the Naval Victualling manual, BR93, does not list a 1½ Gill round measure, but the 1939 edition does. Introduction of the 1½ Gill round measure was therefore sometime between 1929 and 1939, it remained part of the set until cessation of the rum issue in 1970, making a set a run of eight measures.


Full set of 8 round rum measures

I believe that the type of measures

shown in the image right, are also

reproductions.

They normally present as a set of

four - Pint, 1½ Gill, Gill and ½ Gill,

although can be found separately.

The internal 'tinning' is usually aged,

giving the appearance that they were

produced some time ago.

The key 'tell' is that none have a

'unique verification mark', the norm

for a genuine 1½ Gill measure, but

not for the other three sizes.

For the particular set shown right,

other oddities include the unusual

shape of the handle - extended oval

at the top, but triangular in shape at

the bottom.

This style of handle is shown in the

image first right.

I have a second set with similar

markings where the handle shape

appears to have better evolved into

the more accurate extended oval,

top to bottom.

The image second right shows the

upper handle fixing to the beaker

section, it does not have the

traditional 'fish tale' finish of an

'original' measure.

The first set of four that came my way have the makers mark shown in the image above left.

I thought that the mark looked like 'three trees', so personally referred to these measures as such, three trees reproduction measures.

I later came across similar measures, with extended oval handles top to bottom, the makers mark was however, two trees, as shown in the image above right. This mark being a little clearer.

The makers mark is the same - minus one 'tree', but being clearer, perhaps the makers mark looks more like a flower of some sort. In any case, I have not been able to identify the maker from their mark. Should anyone know who these particular marks belong to, I would be very grateful to learn.

'Three Trees' handle.                            'Two Trees' handle upper fixing.
' 3 Trees' style of Reproduction 'round' measures.