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    Royal Naval Barrackmaster?

    I have often seen this button advertised as being for a 'Royal Naval Barrackmaster'. I have never seen any evidence to say that such a button existed or was ever worn by those appointed as Barrackmasters.

    Can anyone confirm that this is or isn't a button for a Royal Navy Barrackmaster? And if it isn't, what is it?

    Pete
    Attached Files

    #2
    I do not know what it is. I think Royal Naval Barrackmaster is incorrect.

    Comment


      #3
      Royal Naval Barrackmaster?

      I'll be perfectly honest with you and admit that I've never believed that it was a button for a Barrackmaster either. I've seen quite a few of them advertised as such and I just wanted to know where they got the information re it's identity from. Or is it simply, as is so often the case, the initials just happen to fit the title.

      I know that Barrackmasters did exist in the past in RN barracks but these were all serving naval personnel. As such they wore RN uniform, so why would they even need a special button?

      I get tired of the 'identification' of such buttons without any information to back them up. And even more annoyingly everyone else then goes on to use that spurious identification to identify their own examples of the button and it spreads until it is accepted as gospel by the collecting community.

      For some reason naval buttons seem particularly prone to this problem.

      Pete

      Comment


        #4
        Pete,

        I agree with you. I have managed to debunk a few, but more fancy names have been issued in recent years, mostly by dealers.
        Unless one finds a button's proper identity the general opinion does not change. Even then, the correct name has to be 'better' than the original name.

        Do you have backmarks for these RNB buttons?

        regards,

        Comment


          #5
          Unfortunately I don't have any backmarks as, because I don't believe they are what they are claimed to be, I have never purchased one! I have seen them advertised as being for sale over many years but never seen an image of the rear of the button. They seem to turn up fairly infrequently, so there can't be too many of them around - whatever they are!

          I would just like to finally clearly identify this button in order to stop it being sold as something it isn't.

          And before anyone points it out to me, I am aware that there are still Barrack Masters and Assistant Barrack Masters serving in the Royal Navy. The only reason I referred to them in the past tense was because all the so-called RN Barrackmaster buttons I have seen are King's Crown buttons.

          Pete

          Comment


            #6
            I have one of these, the backmark is FIRMIN LONDON.

            Comment


              #7
              Thank-you.

              Comment


                #8
                Buttonman, may I ask you a question?

                When you bought your button did you know what it was already (and if so how did you know) or did you buy it simply because the seller said it was a Royal Naval Barrackmaster's button? Did they provide any evidence to back this identification up?

                I know it's rather cheeky of me to ask this but I'm determined to prove the identity of this button one way or another!

                Thanks

                Pete

                Comment


                  #9
                  Pete,
                  It was a swap years ago with a collector of transport buttons. He described it as "Royal Naval Barracks" but I've never confirmed it. Looking through a battered old Naval List for July 1905, Barrack Masters seem to be RMA & RMLI officers with the rank of Colonel or Major. I also found a mention in P. Benyon's website of Barrack Masters [I think in 1926] who were ex-senior naval ratings although I understand that civilians were also appointed. The button itself has an open back in the style of livery buttons & is similar to the RNH [Royal Naval Hospital buttons]. The gothic? style of lettering on the RNB button is like that used for the NH cap badge worn by hospital attendants as shown in the 1937 Manual of Seamanship.

                  David.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    If I had to guess. I would say Royal Navy Band, rather than Barrackmaster. It could just as easily be Rangoon National Band.
                    "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by Guzzman View Post
                      I'll be perfectly honest with you and admit that I've never believed that it was a button for a Barrackmaster either. I've seen quite a few of them advertised as such and I just wanted to know where they got the information re it's identity from. Or is it simply, as is so often the case, the initials just happen to fit the title.

                      I know that Barrackmasters did exist in the past in RN barracks but these were all serving naval personnel. As such they wore RN uniform, so why would they even need a special button?

                      I get tired of the 'identification' of such buttons without any information to back them up. And even more annoyingly everyone else then goes on to use that spurious identification to identify their own examples of the button and it spreads until it is accepted as gospel by the collecting community.

                      For some reason naval buttons seem particularly prone to this problem.

                      Pete
                      Hi Pete, a bit off the original question, but maybe a point of interest? In 1983, before I joined up, I was employed by the Admiralty as a Labourer Gardener and worked in the grounds of the wardroom and barracks of HMS Nelson, at that time the barrack Master was a retired Chief Petty Officer, who wore a CPO's uniform but was not a serviceman but a Civil Servant! similarly, the Officer in command of the Royal Naval Reserve New Entry Division at HMS Raleigh wore the uniform and rank of a Lieutenant Commander but was a retired officer and a Civil Servant. In both cases buttons were most certainly standard RN buttons for their rank.

                      Hope its of interest?


                      Regards


                      Tony

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Hi All,

                        I bought mine as "Royal Naval Barracks". A description, I wasn't totally sure of or happy with, but they were cheap and worth taking a punt on.

                        I bought them as I collect Mess Waiter buttons and they are the standard type of late Victorian/Edwardian open backed style of button as are most Mess Waiter buttons of that period. So I was hoping it was some form of Royal Navy B?????? Mess Waiter's button. But I have no info to back that up with - just wishful thinking on my part.

                        I have 2 sizes:

                        16.1mm - FIRMIN LONDON & BIRMINGHAM
                        25.6mm - FIRMIN & SONS Ld . St MARTINS LANE LONDON .

                        I have also seen advertised :

                        16mm - FIRMIN * LONDON *
                        26mm - FIRMIN * LONDON *

                        It would be great if we can identify the true use of this button.

                        Ian

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Firstly, many thanks to everyone for responding. I'm sure with all the knowledge on this website we can crack this mystery.

                          David, thanks for answering my questions. I really appreciate you taking the time. Many RM or RMLI officers were Barrackmasters - especially at RM Barracks. One of my own ancestors was Barrackmaster at Chatham RM Barracks in the 1820s. My own research has also shown that they sometimes served as Barrackmasters in RN Barracks but RN Officers also filled the role. These all seem to have been serving officers so they wouldn't have needed a special button as they had their own uniform. i have also come across senior rates serving as Barrackmasters or Assistant Barrackmasters. Once again they were serving personnel.

                          Civilians (presumably people who had never served in the Armed Forces) being appointed to the post is new to me. I will have to look into that further.

                          Phil, as you say the letters could stand for anything but I have considered the possibility of them being worn by Royal Navy Bands. Long before the Royal Marines became responsible for providing music for the Royal Navy there was a Royal Navy Band Service, with it's own distinctive and rather unique uniform. I have some information on their uniforms somewhere but can't lay my hands on it at the moment. However, since all the RNB buttons feature a King's Crown I think that it is unlikely to have been used by them as they disappeared at the beginning of the 20th century.

                          Tony, any information is helpful! I've personally encountered retired senior rates who were employed as civil servants but still wore their uniforms. One former WO sticks in my mind. He thought he was God and I had to remind him that, despite his uniform, he was now only a civil servant. This just seems to confirm something that we have mentioned before - that if retired senior rates filled the post of Barrackmaster and were required to wear a uniform they probably just wore their old uniform. This has been the case for many years.

                          Ian, many thanks for the information re maker's marks. I will check these out and see if they give us any more information re the dates they were possibly used - for whatever it was!

                          Pete

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Royal Naval Barrackmaster?

                            Excuse my not adding anything over the last few days but my internet has been down.

                            I've checked the dates for the Firmin backmarks and they seem to be dated as follows: -

                            Firmin London & Birmingham 1882 -
                            Firmin & Sons Ltd. St. Martins Lane London 1895 - 1915
                            Firmin *London* Mid-20th century

                            I assume that all the buttons owned or seen are King's Crown buttons? I've certainly never seen one with any other crown. I've spent the Easter weekend poring through my reference books and Admiralty manuals but drawn a complete blank other than the odd reference to there BEING a barrackmaster - which we already knew. So I guess we have drawn a blank and unless we find anymore information we can't proceed any further at the moment with positively identifying this button. But I'm still determined to solve this mystery!

                            Pete

                            Comment


                              #15
                              A long shot here, but still a possible contender? Royal Naval Benevolence (for RNBT uniformed staff if they existed at all)

                              GTB

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