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  #16  
Old 18-03-17, 08:07 AM
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Hello Charlie

Here are two photos of the back of my, rather worn, leather RNAS button.

Roger
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File Type: jpg RNAS button 1.jpg (43.2 KB, 6 views)
File Type: jpg RNAS button 2.jpg (28.3 KB, 7 views)
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  #17  
Old 19-03-17, 01:08 PM
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Further to what has been written.

I understand the logic behind the RNAS button having a design of an eagle in lieu of an anchor, while retaining the Crown and Roped Edge. As the roped edge is a prerogative of Naval officers, I would have expected the PO (or equivalent) ranks to have been issued similar buttons but with a plain rim in lieu of a roped edge.

Another point is the eagle/albatross controversy. Personally, I think the RNAS/RAF(KC) bird is an albatross - just have a look at the beak. The QC RAF buttons have a totally different bird, this time an eagle. The only QC RAF buttons I have seen utilising the 'albatross' are the Blazer buttons.

Concerning RNAS backmarks, I can furnish the following (all officer pattern, large):
GIEVE'S Ltd
SPECIAL QUALITY
Ed, STILLWELL & SON Ltd. LONDON, all within strap, osd bz.
No mark
SUPERB. QUALITY, small

GTB
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  #18  
Old 19-03-17, 08:12 PM
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Default RAF buttons

I think that ratings in the RNAS were simply deemed to be naval ratings - with skills that were felt to be interchangeable with those serving at sea (hence their use of existing trade badges). When the Naval Air Wing was first established applications were invited from ratings whose skills might be useful to the new service and most of those who transferred were petty officers and men 'dressed as seamen' (Class II uniform), rather than those employed in administrative, catering, medical or clerical work (Class III uniform). Many of the first photographs of ratings of the Naval Wing feature wood-working artificers and engineering tradesmen wearing the seamen's dress of this period.

It quickly became evident that the rig of a seaman wasn't really very suitable for duties in the Naval Air Wing and from July 1913 direct entry ratings into the Air Wing were being issued with Class III uniforms. This suggests that although it was felt necessary for them to wear a uniform appropriate to the duties they undertook, they were still simply regarded as naval ratings rather than members of a separate service. Hence their continued use of standard naval ratings buttons.

This is in direct contrast to the direct entry officers of the RNAS who were regarded as members of a separate organisation and who were not trained as naval officers with skills that could be used aboard ship - and who had to be clearly identified as what they were in case anyone mistook them for 'real' naval officers!

The bird on RNAS insignia is definately an eagle. Churchill wasn't very impressed with the first design produced as he thought the bird looked more like a goose than the eagle it was intended to be! Then in 1913 Captain Murray Sueter, the head of the Admiralty's Air Department, submitted a brooch that his wife had found in Paris as a design for the Naval Wing's insignia - the eagle design of the brooch was accepted as being suitable. I think that variations in the quality of the eagle are down to individual manufacturers!

Pete
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  #19  
Old 20-03-17, 12:30 PM
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As I mentioned earlier there is a difference between the beaks of an eagle and a ......(whatever). I think Churchill got it right when he likened the image to a goose. Just take a look at this sad bird's beak that with no stretch of the imagination can be likened to that of thr noblest of birds. The button is an early issue and has no backmark.
GTB
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  #20  
Old 20-03-17, 02:48 PM
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I agree about the quality of the bird on that button! It looks more like a duck-billed platypus than an eagle!

I'll have a look at the backs of my buttons and list the makers.

I have some which are very crudely made and are a metallic-brown in colour. I've often wondered if they might have been worn on flying gear. I'll post an image later.

Pete
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  #21  
Old 20-03-17, 03:39 PM
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Hello

I think it is pretty certain that the different characteristics in the eagle design are all down to variations by the many manufacturers who produced these buttons over the years.

There are plenty of references on other sites to Admiralty Order No.2, dated June 1914, which stated that the badge of an eagle will be worn by members of the RNAS as the centre piece replacing the anchor on officers' caps. So clearly an eagle was the intended bird from the start. The idea of an albatross just seems to be a long-standing myth.

On a slightly different note, there was an article in Button Lines about the buttons of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police which illustrated the first 'buffalo' head pattern button used by the North West Mounted Police. Apparently when this design was introduced in 1880 the English makers had only a written description to go by and as many had probably never seen a buffalo before there are some very odd-looking creatures seen on these buttons.

Perhaps something similar happened with the eagle on the RNAS/RAF buttons! Maybe the engraver asked "What's an eagle?" and was just told "A big bird with a large beak"!

Roger
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  #22  
Old 20-03-17, 04:29 PM
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I know that you will appreciate that it is not only the beak that defines the bird. The complete change of body shape is there also when comparing QC with KC buttons.
But going back to the beak, a comparison between older shoulder eagles (top) with later (bottom) ones, clearly defines how an eagle's beak should appear.And this point is actually highlighted with the beak embroidered in yellow.
Personally, I would put the monstrosity that appears on my button down to the round bulging eye more than anything.

GTB
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File Type: jpg RAFeagles.jpg (49.6 KB, 15 views)
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  #23  
Old 20-03-17, 05:44 PM
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Hello GTB

Nice set of insignia. I think the top two must have a naval connection as the beaks of those two birds are much more like arrestor hooks! Perhaps there is an RNAS/Fleet Air Arm connection - just joking!!

Roger
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  #24  
Old 20-03-17, 05:47 PM
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This is a small button from my spares box, not sure the beak is much better but an interesting variation.

Graham
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File Type: jpg IMG_6052bb.jpg (87.1 KB, 20 views)
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  #25  
Old 20-03-17, 07:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chacal View Post
This is a small button from my spares box, not sure the beak is much better but an interesting variation.

Graham
Very interesting indeed, and also without a backmark

GTB
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  #26  
Old 21-03-17, 12:55 PM
Alex Rice Alex Rice is offline
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So, to hijack this thread further, I decided to look through my RAF buttons, with a few different makers.
Here they are:
1 - Buttons Ltd - this has a layer of brown paint or something on it.
2 - Cheney Birmingham
3 - Gaunt
4 - KG Luke (?) Melbourne - Must be RAAF
5 - Smith & Wright
6 - Wm Dowler
7 - WLM (?)

Cheers,
Alex
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Buttons ltd 1.jpg (42.5 KB, 6 views)
File Type: jpg Buttons ltd 2.jpg (85.6 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg Cheney B'ham 1.jpg (54.8 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg Cheney B'ham 2.jpg (73.1 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg Gaunt large 1.jpg (55.5 KB, 5 views)
File Type: jpg Gaunt large 2.jpg (78.6 KB, 4 views)
File Type: jpg K G Luke Melbourne 1.jpg (73.1 KB, 8 views)
File Type: jpg K G Luke Melbourne 2.jpg (48.1 KB, 5 views)
File Type: jpg Smith & Wright 1.jpg (56.6 KB, 5 views)
File Type: jpg Smith & Wright 2.jpg (57.2 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg Wm Dowler 1.jpg (64.8 KB, 4 views)
File Type: jpg Wm Dowler 2.jpg (77.3 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg WLM 1.jpg (60.5 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg WLM 2.jpg (68.1 KB, 5 views)
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  #27  
Old 23-03-17, 05:34 PM
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I've just checked the makers' names on my RNAS/early-RAF buttons. They are as follows:-

Pitt & Co, 31 Maddox St, London
Firmin & Sons, London
J.R. Gaunt & Son Ltd., London
Unmarked

The unmarked buttons are the poorly made metallic-brown ones I spoke of earlier. I will try and scan their images tomorrow.

Pete
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