The image above shows the filling and sealing of wicker covered 1 gallon rum jars at Royal Clarence Yard Gosport. I am grateful to Hampshire Library's for permission to use this image on my site.
The gentleman to the left is filling the jars from a 1 Gallon lipped measure. The gent to the right, inserting the cork with a 'press' and presumably then sealing with wax. The electric wax melter is on the table in the foreground.
As well as sealing the jar, the wax also acts as a security seal. The action of the press leaves an impression in the hot wax.
Each Victualling yard had their own identifiable impression. The image left shows the impression for 'Southern Area' - ( Royal Clarence Yard ).
The image bottom left is the seal for R.E.Y Scotland - ( Royal Elizabeth Yard ). The image bottom right is the seal for R.V.Y Deptford - ( Royal Victoria Yard ).
I am yet to see a seal from Plymouth/Wrangaton, I suspect however it includes R.W.Y - ( Royal William Yard ) or S.W.A. - ( South West Area ).
Filling and sealing Wicker Jars at Royal Clarence Yard, Gosport.
'Southern Area' wax seal - Royal Clarence Yard Gosport.
Wax seal from R.E.Y. Scotland ( Royal Elizabeth Yard. Wax seal from R.V.Y Deptford ( Royal Victoria Yard ).
OHMS label attached to one of the jars.
OHMS Label reads:
1 - Gallon
( 8 pints or 160 fl.ozs )
at 4.8° U.P. (Under Proof)
20 Aug 1953
SRD, Taunton ( Supply Reserve Depot)
Lid of wooden crate containing 2 x wicker covered gallon jars. Tops of 2x wicker covered jars visible. Wax seals (impressed (Royal Army Service Corps. Supplies). SRD) - intact.
Gallon Rum Jars without wicker covering: Towards the end of the WW2, the wickering industry were
experiencing great difficulty in sourcing sufficient material to meet
the demands of the Royal Navy - the packing of rum and vinegar
into wicker covered jars for issue to small ships which cannot take
supplies in casks.
The decision was made to supply rum and vinegar in unwickered jars, which were to be supplied in wooden cases, two jars to a case, each jar being protected by a surrounding fill of wooden chips.
The cases were to be carefully opened and jars removed, leaving the chips in the case. Once empty, the jars should be returned to the case and carefully repacked in the wooden chips, for return to the victualing yard.
I wonder if the Royal Navy borrowed the idea above, from the British Army.
Gallon wicker covered jars of rum, intended for Army use, were packed in wood chips inside wooden crates, two jars per crate.
Apparently Army rum jars did not have a red paint band applied, presumably, they did not receive vinegar in wicker jars?
The three images below, of wicker jars packed in crates ( Army rum ), are shown by kind permission of my collecting colleague, Mr Neil Price.
To remove the cork from the jar, the wax seal must first be broken away, a fellow collector and Ex Victualling CPO, Mr Neil Price, advises that normal practice was to hold the corkscrew by the spiral end and strike the wax seal with one of the wings of the corkscrew, until the wax had fallen away, revealing the top of the cork, which may then be pulled out.
It is my belief that most stocks of original navy rum have been exhausted, but from time to time, sealed, red banded wicker covered rum jars do pop up at auction.
Cork from the jar left.
Service issue cork screw.
The Admiralty Victualling Manual states that " Rum jars when full, are sealed with the Admiralty or Victualling Yard seal before leaving the yard".
The image below left, kindly supplied by fellow collector, Mr Chris Barrand, shows the top of the rum jar with the wax seal intact - hence the jar still contained rum!
The text reads 'Southern Area' ( Royal Clarence Yard ) around the perimeter and dated 12-70, December 1970.
This particular jar being filled and sealed from stocks remaining after cessation of the rum issue.
Wax sealed rum jar - December 1970.
One Gallon stone jar.
Makers mark to stone jar, left.
Early version - 1 Gallon rum jar. Later version 1 Gallon rum jar.
Woodworm appear to be fond of the heavy gauge cane covering on the older type of jars, as such, it is difficult to find a heavy gauge covered jar in good condition. Attack by woodworm may have been one of the factors in deciding to change to the finer gauge cover.
The Admiralty Victualling Manual advises that "rum jars have a red band painted on the wicker". Some say that the red band denotes 'bonded stock' or 'duty paid'. However, I believe that the red band was simply to identify that the jar contained rum, as vinegar was also supplied in wicker jars. ( The Victualling manual advises that the 'chimbs' of rum casks are also painted red for identification ).
Removing the wicker covering from the jar reveals the stone jar itself, as shown in the image below left. Note that a little of the red paint from the wicker has come through to the jar. The only markings on the jar are those of the maker, as shown in the image below right - 'Pearsons - Chesterfield'. I have seen several makers marks and at least two different coloured glazed tops, dark brown and light brown. In my time collecting, I have never found a wicker rum jar with an 'SRD' ( Supply Reserve Depot ) stone jar inside.
Royal Navy 1 Gallon Rum Jars.
Neat spirit ( Rum ) was supplied to Naval vessels and shore establishments by the Victualling Yards. Larger vessels and shore establishment received their rum in oak casks, of varying sizes. Smaller vessels were supplied with rum in one Gallon stone jars, bound with wicker. The purpose of the wicker being to provide protection from damage to the stone jar.
There are two distinct types of wicker covering, the type right, was the more recent, a finer gauge of cane, while the type left, with the heavier gauge cane, was the earlier version.