Air Ministry Half Gill Spirit Measure
The Gill was introduced in the 14th century to measure individual servings of spirits or wine. In Great Britain, the standard single measure of spirits in a pub was 1⁄6 gill (23.7 ml) but was discontinued after metrication. Half of a gill is a jack, so an eighth of a pint. Our measure is made from English pewter by Gaskell Chambers Ltd of Birmingham, established in 1892. Gaskell and Chambers did not just deal in pewter but supplied an assortment of fixtures and fittings for the bar trade in general. Their premises were bombed by the Luftwaffe in1941 but they survived the war (minus their records!) but sold out James Smellies in the early 1970s, but finally shut up shop in 1983. Gaskell and Chambers catalogues showed a wide range of products available but the bulk of their production was beer mugs and measures. Their products, as our measure, were marked under the base ‘Gaskell and Chambers Birmingham’ and with a further stamp inside with a crowned ‘X’ with a triangle below. Whilst these measures turn up regularly this is the first we have seen that was specifically destined for the RAF. It is marked to the base with an indistinct crown and below A.M. (for the Air Ministry) and is numbered 661821/37 so manufactured in 1937 specifically for the RAF. Below is stores reference number 21C/777. RAF Stores reference '21' covered an assortment of 'Barrack Equipment', and sub category 'C' encompassed 'Metal Ware'. Other less scrupulous dealers (who I won’t name) would indicate this came direct from behind the bar at the Petwood Hotel. I prefer to think it was used by the late Geoffrey 'Boy' Wellum, after a successful fighter sweep with 92 Squadron chums at Biggin Hill. For those who have not read 'First Light' I suggest you secure a copy now and I am currently enjoying it even more for a second time around! So whilst this measures history has been lost down the years for sure with its pre-war manufacturing date it clearly served throughout WW11 and as we so often say 'if it could only talk '. Whilst small (measures just 2 1/2" high/6 cm) it is beautifully formed! An ideal stocking filler for the RAF collector in your life and why not add a copy of my ' book of the month' 'First Light' which is available via Amazon. com!