When officers purchased their helmets, busbies, forage caps etc. they most often also purchased a storage/transit tin to protect their valuable items of headgear.
These came in various shapes and sizes to suit the type of headgear and could be ordered in both single and double configurations. For example, a wealthy officer may have purchased both a white and a khaki helmet and might therefore order a double tin.
A Wolseley helmet with single helmet storage tin showing a shipping line’s luggage label. (Author’s collection)
Wolseley helmet with double tin which has additional space for the plume holder. (Author’s collection)
Tins came in single or double helmet configurations. There were at least two variations of double tin interiors.
A double tin illustrating the clips used to secure two helmets. (Author’s collection)
Another variation of a double tin showing the ledges on which each helmet would rest. This is an exceptionally tall tin to accommodate a cardboard plume holder at the bottom. (Author’s collection)
The interior of a single helmet tin showing the ledges on which the helmet rested. Many examples do not have these ledges with the helmet resting on the bottom of the tin. (Author’s collection)
Tins were of a japanned metal construction. Japanning was a process of applying a heavy black lacquer in layers to the metal. Each layer was allowed to dry either naturally or by the application of heat. After the last layer the tin was polished to a glossy finish. Black and dappled red/black are the most commonly encountered finishes.
An example of red/black japanning. (Author’s collection)
These tins were labelled with brass plaques, or stencils, naming the maker and also the owner and his regiment, although not all tins have the owner’s name or, indeed, the maker’s label.
A brass maker’s plaque and owner’s name and regiment plaque. (Author’s collection)
A tin with the owner’s name and unit stenciled on. (Author’s collection)
Other Ranks (Enlisted men) were issued with cotton bags to protect their helmets, although there is some doubt as to whether they were extensively used. But it should be noted that lost equipment etc. had to be accounted for.
A Wolseley helmet in its cotton bag and the bag without helmet. (Author’s collection)
The method of locking the tin seems to have had two variations; the first using a lock and key and the second a hinged clasp through which a padlock could be used.
The lock and key method of locking the tin. (Author’s collection)
The padlock method of locking the tin. (Author’s collection)
A Home Service Helmet and tin with brass plaques. This one to Lt. R.N. Colville, 4th Battalion, North Staffordshire Regiment. This style and size of tin was also used for the Colonial Pattern helmet. (Author’s collection)
A forage cap and tin attributed to Brigadier William Henry Sitwell. It has the Hawkes’ plaque but only has painted on the lid “W.H.S” to identify the owner, Brigadier General William Henry Sitwell. (Author’s collection)
A cardboard hat box for a cavalry pillbox cap. Attributed to Sergeant Morris of the 13th Hussars. (Author’s collection)
An officer’s pillbox cap and metal tin to the Berkshire Yeomanry. (Author’s collection)
A dragoon helmet with tin and quilted cover for hot weather stations. This helmet to the 1st (King’s) Dragoon Guards. (Author’s collection)
A cocked hat and tin. Attributed to Major C.H. Bagot, Royal Engineers. (Author’s collection)
A Royal Artillery Busby and tin. (Author’s collection)
Shako and tin to the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles). (Author’s collection)
Royal Aberdeenshire Highlanders Storage Tin and Feather Bonnet. (Photo courtesy of Benny Bough)
A bearskin cap and storage tin (Collection of Peter Suciu)
An advert for storage/transit tins from the Army & Navy Stores catalogue of 1907. (Author’s catalogue)