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OILER MAKERS MARKS - ENGLAND

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Photo notes: Photo detail from a larger group photo taken in 1916 of the staff of T. H. Nice, 21 Abbeygate Street, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England. The firm of T. H. Nice, motor engineers and cycle makers, was one of many local firms recruited in 1915 by the East Anglican Munitions Committee to take on munitions production. Women munitions workers were known as “Munitionettes.” The three in the photo are wearing their newly issued triangular “On War Service” badges. Photographer unknown; Martyn Taylor (UK) collection; used with permission. [1]

 

 

BRITISH MAKERS OF LEE-ENFIELD OILERS 1888-1988

YADDA YADDA YADDA

 

YADDA YADDA

 

Inspection/view marks are usually found beneath a crown and a number/letter code. The shape of the crown is non-significant.

 

 

BIRMINGHAM SMALL ARMS COMPANY (BSA)

BIRMINGHAM SMALL ARMS COMANY - INSPECTION MARK

Principal British small arms contractor 1861-1960's. Total rifle production in the millions. Prime government contractor; most oilers have a BSA inspection cartouche.

 

A poorly stamped and/or worn italic B may look like "13".

BIRMINGHAM SMALL ARMS COMPANY - COMMERCIAL PRODUCTION

Arms produced for commercial sales, including Colonies, police and foreign governments, are marked with the three-stacked Martini-Henry rifle logo, as are the oilers.

BIRMINGHAM SMALL ARMS COMPANY - COMMERCIAL SALES INSPECTION MARK

The BSA commercial inspection/view mark is a "V".

 

ROYAL SMALL ARMS FACTORY (RSAF) SPARKBROOK

 

ROYAL SMALL ARMS FACTORY SPARKBROOK - INSPECTION MARK

 

Simple, straight-up, non-italic, "B". Factory sold to Birmingham Small Arms Co. (BSA) in 1906.

 

The Sparkbrook "B" is sometimes found on Mk IV oilers manufactured by Great War (1914-1919) contractors. Simplest explanation is probably no one thought it worth the bother to switch out a non-italic Sparkbrook inspection B cartouche for an italic Birmingham Small Arms inspection B cartouche. They're both "B" and both factories are BSA.

ROYAL SMALL ARMS FACTORY SPARKBROOK Government factory 1883 - 1906. Factory sold to Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA) in 1906. Mark found on Mk II, Mk III and Mk IV oilers. Total oiler production unknown.

J & J BENT COMPANY

Lee-Enfield rifle oil bottles

J & J BENT COMPANY Charlotte Rd, Stirchley, Birmingham, brassfounders. [4] [5]

 

Great War (1914-1919) contractor.   [2]    250,000 total produced. [3]

 

Two types of marks noted. JJB-in-a-box most common.

J & J BENT COMPANY Charlotte Rd, Stirchley, Birmingham [4] [5]

 

Great War (1914-1919) contractor. [2]

 

JJB-not-in-a-box is Type Two. Scarce.

 

 

THOMAS BLAND & SONS LTD

Lee-Enfield rifle oil bottle

THOMAS BLAND & SONS GUNMAKERS LTD    41/43 Whittal Street, Birmingham; later 4-5 William IV Street, Strand, London. [4] [5]

 

Great War (1914-1919) contractor. [2]      26,000 produced. [3]

 

The marks we have seen are lightly struck and easy to miss.

THOMAS BLAND & SONS GUNMAKERS LTD   

 

The 1954, 1960 and 1965 catalogs have exactly the same drawing on the cover.  [6]

 

W.H. BRISCOE & COMPANY, LTD.

Lee-Enfield rifle oil bottle

W. H . BRISCOE & COMPANY, LTD.   51-52 Park Street, Birmingham. [4] [5]

 

Great War (1914-1919) contractor. [2]      150,000 produced. [3]

 

 

H.S. COOKE & COMPANY, LTD

Lee-Enfield rifle oil bottle

H.S. COOKE & COMPANY, LTD. 116 Northwood Street, Birmingham. [4] [5]

 

Great War (1914-1919) contractor. [2] Unknown production. [3]

 

Not uncommon

 

DAVIS & MAWSON

Lee-Enfield rifle oil bottle

DAVIS & MAWSON    Plume Street, Aston, Birmingham. [4] [5]

 

Not named by Skennerton as a Great War (1914-1919) contractor, but obviously did so. [2]    Unknown number produced. [3]

 

Two variations of mark noted; the simpler D&M is Type One.

DAVIS & MAWSON    Plume Street, Aston, Birmingham, brassfounders, oilers. [4] [5]

 

Not named by Skennerton as a Great War (1914-1919) contractor. [2]    Unknown number produced. [3]

 

The mark with a "B" beneath is rarely seen. Type Two.

 

ROYAL SMALL ARMS FACTORY (RSAF) ENFIELD

ROYAL SMALL ARMS FACTORY (RSAF) ENFIELD - INSPECTION MARK    Enfield Lock (No 13) is a lock on the River Lee Navigation, in the London Borough of Enfield.  It gives its name to the surrounding area of Enfield Lock.

 

Principal government small arms manufacturing plant known as RSAF Enfield, or simply "Enfield". After England and NATO adopted the Belgian made FN-FAL rifle and 7.62mm round as standard in 1954, the end was inevitable. Plant closed in 1988.

 

A simple straight-up Times New Roman style "E" beneath a crown is the most common insepction/view mark.

ROYAL SMALL ARMS FACTORY (RSAF) ENFIELD - MANUFACTURING MARK   

 

Mark commonly found on RSAF Enfield manufactured rifles, bayonets and oilers.

 

Total oiler production unknown. Most commonly found on Mk I, Mk II and Mk III oilers. Later oiler production generally contracted out to suppliers.

 

EDWIN SHOWELL & SONS, LTD.

Lee-Enfield rifle oil bottle

EDWIN SHOWELL & SONS, LTD.    Lower Loveday St. until 1902, then to bigger premises at Stirchley Brass Foundry, Charlotte Road, Birmingham. Founded as Showell and Barnes circa 1790; Showell name only from 1820. They were taken over by Josiah Parkes & Sons in 1956. [4] [5]

 

Great War (1914-1919) contractor. [2]   300,000 produced. [3]

 

Two variations of the same mark noted. Type One has more space between the letters.

EDWIN SHOWELL & SONS, LTD.    Stirchley Brass Foundry, Charlotte Road, Birmingham. [4] [5]

 

Great War (1914-1919) contractor. [2]

 

Type Two variation has smaller letters, more closely packed.   No one but a collector would notice the difference.

 

GABRIEL & COMPANY

Lee-Enfield rifle oil bottle

GABRIEL & COMPANY    (Percy) Gabriel & Company, founded as a brass foundry in 1884 at 4 & 5 AB Row, Birmingham, making brass components and fittings. [4] [5]

 

Great War (1914-1919) contractor. [2]    205,000 produced. [3]

 

More common Type One mark is curved and includes Birmingham.

GABRIEL & COMPANY   Brass foundry at 4 & 5 AB Row, Birmingham. [4] [5]

 

Great War (1914-1919) contractor. [2]    1914 Specialities: Brassfoundry including Builders' and Cabinet Makers' requirements, Lavatory Fittings, Water Fittings, Electric Light, Railway Carriage, Tramcar and Motor Car Fittings and Ships' Brassfoundry [4] [5]

 

The Type Two mark is rarely seen.

 

HARCOURTS, LTD.

Lee-Enfield rifle oil bottle

HARCOURTS, LTD 223 Mosley Street, Birmingham. [4] [5]

 

Great War (1914-1919) contractor. [2]   100,000 produced. [3]

 

The name of the company is HARCOURTS, spelled with an "s"; the name on the oilers is HARCOURT, without an "s". The print is tiny; lack of space does not appear to be an issue. Nor does there appear to be another firm with the same or similar name. Collectors and historians will simply have to live with the mystery.

Lee-Enfield rifle oiler

RECESSED CAPS are sometimes encountered. A close examination of the oiler spoon sometimes reveals "HARCOURTS' PATENT" embossed on the shaft.

 

 

M. HALLADAY & COMPANY

M. HALLADAY & COMPANY   Name not found in official records. [4] [5]

 

Listed by Skennerton as a Great War (1914-1919) contractor. [2]   Name not found in the 8,760 metalworking and similar firms listed in Ministry of Munitions lists 1916-1921. Closest name match is Halladay's, Ltd. which did engine work.

 

No reports of any marks that might be associated with this maker.

 

HENRY JENKINS & SONS, LTD.

Lee-Enfield rifle oil bottle

HENRY JENKINS & SONS, LTD.    Unity Works, Victoria Street, Birmingham. [4] [5]

 

Great War (1914-1919) contractor. [2]      1,100,000 produced. [3]

 

With more than one million produced, one of the more common marks.

 

SAMUEL HALL & SONS, LTD.

Lee-Enfield rifle oil bottle

S. HALL & SONS, LTD.    -OR-    S. HEATH & SONS, LTD. ?

 

We have two firms with very similar names/initials. Both firms manufactured Lee-Enfield oilers during the Great War (1914-1919). Hall produced about 100,000 units; Heath about 400,000 units.

 

We have assigned the less common/numerous SH&S mark (without the Ltd.) to Hall & Sons and the variations with some form of "Ltd" in the mark to Heath & Sons.

 

After that, it gets more complicated.

SAMUEL HALL & SONS, LTD.  Vanguard Works, Hay Mills, Birmingham [4] [5]

 

Great War (1914-1919) contractor. [2]   100,000 produced. [3]

 

SAMUEL HEATH & SONS, LTD.

Lee-Enfield rifle oil bottle

S. HALL & SONS, LTD.    -OR-    S. HEATH & SONS, LTD. ?

 

We have two firms with very similar names/initials. Both firms manufactured Lee-Enfield oilers during the Great War (1914-1919). Hall produced about 100,000 units; Heath about 400,000 units.

 

We have assigned the less common/numerous SH&S mark (without the Ltd.) to Hall & Sons and the variations with some form of "Ltd" in the mark to Heath & Sons.

 

After that, it gets more complicated.

SAMUEL HEATH & SONS, LTD.  Cobden Works, Leopold Street, Birmingham. [4] [5]

  

Great War (1914-1919) contractor. [2] 400,000 produced. [3]

 

Three different markings noted; the simple one-line S.H&S Ld is Type One.

SAMUEL HEATH & SONS, LTD.  Cobden Works, Leopold Street, Birmingham. [4] [5]

  

Type Two mark is within a large triangle.

 

No idea of how many of each type mark were produced.

SAMUEL HEATH & SONS, LTD.  Cobden Works, Leopold Street, Birmingham. [4] [5]

 

Type Three mark is within a small triangle.

 

No idea of how many of each type mark were produced.

 

KINGS NORTON METAL COMPANY, LTD.

Lee-Enfield rifle oil bottle

KINGS NORTON METAL COMPANY Kings Norton, Birmingham [4] [5]

 

Great War (1914-1919) contractor. [2]   100,000 produced. [3]

 

Ammunition company formed in 1890 at Kings Norton, South East of Birmingham. Ammunition headstamp KN on military contract ammunition. Plant absorbed by Explosives Trade Ltd. in 1918; ceased manufacturing in 1920; remaining assets liquidated 1930's.

 

LIGHTWOOD & SON, LTD.

Lee-Enfield rifle oil bottle

LIGHTWOOD & SON, LTD.   Partridge Works, Price Street, Birmingham. [4] [5]

 

Great War (1914-1919) contractor. [2] 84,000 produced. [3]

 

LIGHTWOOD & SON, LTD.   Partridge Works, Price Street, Birmingham. [4] [5]

 

Their 1920 catalogue proclaims "Established 1859".   It also shows they manufactured various sizes and shapes of oil bottles, among many other items.   [6]

 

LONDON SMALL ARMS COMPANY, LTD.

Lee-Enfield rifle oil bottle

LONDON SMALL ARMS COMPANY, LTD.   Victoria Park Mills, Old Ford, Bow, London.

 

Founded in 1866, factory at Victoria Park Mills; moved to Albion Works, Ossary Road 1921; out of business 1925. Rifle production 1888-1926 estimated to be 731,300.

 

Inspection/view mark found on Mk II and Mk III oilers; no other manufacturers marks. LSA inspection mark not seen on any oilers manufactured by others.   X-inspection mark easily overlooked.   Scarce.

 

MARRIS'S LTD.

Lee-Enfield rifle oil bottle

MARRIS'S LTD.   Cumberland Street, Birmingham. [4] [5]

 

Listed by Skennerton as a Great War (1914-1919) contractor. [2]   No reports of any marks that might be associated with this maker.

 

Marris's (no "Ltd.", but listed at the same address): "1922 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Manufacturers of Fern Pots, Vases, Crumb Trays, Curbs, Coal Boxes, etc. Sole makers of "Sirram" Fitted Tea and Luncheon Baskets and Cases, and Boiling Sets."  [4]

 

MAY & PADMORE, LTD.

Lee-Enfield rifle oil bottle

MAY & PADMORE, LTD. 118/123 Leopold Street, Birmingham. [4] [5]

 

Great War (1914-1919) contractor. [2] 100,000 produced. [3]

 

 

NICOLE, NIELSON & COMPANY, LTD.

Lee-Enfield rifle oil bottle

NICOLE, NIELSON & COMPANY, LTD.   Whippendale Road, Watford, Herts. [4] [5]

 

Great War (1914-1919) contractor. [2]   50,000 produced. [3]

 

Scarce.

If you purchased a motor vehicle in the early days of the 20th century, it probably didn’t come with a speed-o-meter - a device to measure how fast you were travelling. Fortunately for the British motoring public, in 1904 Nicole & Nielson Co., Ltd. patented The Watford Speedometer, a device that not only would tell your speed, but also record your maximum speed, as well as how far you had driven.

 

The advert at left (click for full-size) appeared in the March 1916 edition of “The Autocar” , a magazine “in the interests of the mechanically propelled road carriage."

 

Many thanks to Graces’ Guide to British Industrial History [4] for making much of the research on this oiler page possible.

 

The advert at left (click for full-size) appeared in the October 1913 edition of “The Autocar”. The text is hard to read; we have reprinted it here:

 

SPEED OF ANIMALS

The following is an extract from “The Daily Mail,” of Brisbane, dated Tuesday, 29th October [1912] and has reference to a motor trip from Sydney: “A Watford British-made speedometer is fitted to the dash of the car, and yesterday it registered 721 miles-the mileage from Sydney. Animals like the kangaroo, etc., had their speed tested and registered gratuitously by the speedometer of the car that chased them. Mr. Birtles found it interesting to note the different speeds of movement from the various fugitives. Fowls ran at fifteen miles an hour to save their necks, and mongrel dogs and kangaroos each averaged twenty-five miles an hour. One hare succeeded in attaining the speed of forty miles an hour, but he fell a victim to the car wheels at last. Neither the blue-tongued lizard nor the greyhound had their speed tested.”

 

NOBEL EXPLOSIVES COMPANY, LTD.

Lee-Enfield rifle oil bottle

NOBEL EXPLOSIVES COMPANY, LTD. Waltham Abbey, Essex. [4] [5]

 

Great War (1914-1919) contractor. [2] 53,000 produced. [3]

 

"No Known Mark" is a bit of a misnomer. The Nobel Explosives headstamp found on military contract ammunition is a simple "N" (not to be confused with the Times-New-Roman style "N" of the Royal Navy). We have no reports of any oiler found with a maker's mark similar to the known Nobel headstamp.

NOBEL EXPLOSIVES COMPANY, LTD. Waltham Abbey, Essex. [4] [5]

 

The 1912-1913 Nobel Ammunition Price List sports a simple "N" within a circle - the only time we have seen this particular mark.

 

This mark has not been seen on oilers, but it does give us something else to go on, should one show up.

 

PARKER-HALE, LTD.

PARKER-HALE, LTD.   Bisley Works, Whittal Street, Birmingham. [6]

 

Founded in the 1880's as A.G. Parker & Company, Ltd.; did not adopt the name Parker-Hale until 1936. Renamed P-H Arms 1940.

 

This is one of the few manufacturers whose logo is found on both Mk IV (brass) and Mk V (non-brass) oilers  The P-H mark has only been seen on Mk IV oilers.   

PARKER-HALE, LTD.   Bisley Works, Whittal Street, Birmingham. [6]

 

Founded in the 1880's as A.G. Parker & Company, Ltd.; did not adopt the name Parker-Hale until 1936. Renamed P-H Arms 1940.

 

The P-H within a triangle has only been seen on Mk V (non-brass) oilers.

 

R&N LTD - UNKNOWN SOLDIER - ENGLAND

R&N LTD   Unknown Soldier [4] [5]

 

Name not found in the 8,760 metalworking and similar firms listed in Ministry of Munitions lists 1916-1921. Closest name match is Ross & Nicoll (no Ltd.) a 26-person firm that did engine work for the Admiralty.   Name not found in WWII (1939-1945) list of contractors.

 

Mk IV oiler, Broad Arrow marked, presumed British. No inspection/view mark.

 

SPERRYN & COMPANY, LTD.

Lee-Enfield rifle oil bottle

SPERRYN & COMPANY, LTD.   Moorson Street Works, Birmingham. [4] [5]

 

Great War (1914-1919) contractor. [2]   100,000 produced. [3]

 

One maker with four variations of their own manufacturing mark?   We've noted a tiny X, H and a * variously incorporated into the mark; the placement of which seems to vary from oiler to oiler.

 

We'll call the simplest version (left) Type One.

SPERRYN & COMPANY, LTD.   Moorson Street Works, Birmingham. [4] [5]

 

The version with a star/asterisk (left) is Type Two.

 

SPERRYN & COMPANY, LTD.   Moorson Street Works, Birmingham. [4] [5]

 

The version with a floating X (left) is Type Three.

 

SPERRYN & COMPANY, LTD.   Moorson Street Works, Birmingham. [4] [5]

 

The version with a floating H (left) is Type Four.

 

 

STANDARD SMALL ARMS COMPANY, LTD.

STANDARD SMALL ARMS COMPANY, LTD.   No. 1 Lench Street, Birmingham [4] [5]

 

The Standard Small Arms Company (SSA) was formed in early 1915 with a business plan to contract parts and pieces of rifle production to various small firms to be assembled in a central location. At about the same time the government established the Ministry of Munitions to do exactly that, but for all aspects of war production. The privately owned/financed SSA was soon subsumed by the new government owned National Rifle Factory (NRF). Total rifle production for SAS/NRF is estimated about 250,000 units.

 

No idea about the number of oilers produced. Only 2-3 samples reported. BSA inspection/view marked.

 

VICKERS, SONS & MAXIM / VICKERS, LTD.

Lee-Enfield rifle oil bottle

VICKERS, SONS & MAXIM   Crayford Works, Crayford. [4] [5]

 

Great War (1914-1919) contractor. [2]   208,000 produced. [3]

 

Founded as Vickers, Sons & Company 1867, became Vickers, Sons & Maxim 1897, then Vickers, Ltd. in 1911 when the company got into aircraft manufacturing. The V.S.M appeared on ordnance and ammunition manufactured during the Great War (WWI; 1914-1919).

 

WESTERN ELECTRIC COMPANY, LTD.

Lee-Enfield rifle oil bottle

WESTERN ELECTRIC COMPANY, LTD.   North Woolwich, London. [4] [5]

 

Not named by Skennerton as a Great War (WWI: 1914-1919) contractor. [2] Unknown number produced.

 

Broad Arrow marked. No inspection/view mark.

WESTERN ELECTRIC COMPANY, LTD.  

 

Unknown number produced. Broad Arrow marked. No inspection/view mark.

 

The "16" presumed to be 1916.

Lee-Enfield rifle oil bottle - ENGLAND

WESTERN ELECTRIC COMPANY, LTD.

 

WEC oilers are sometimes encounted with a steel cap. Extremely scarce, as most deteriorated into rusted blobs. Clean, undamaged steel caps are a rare find.

 

Click pic (left) for closer view.

 

THIS IS A CODE SNIPPET TABLE

Lee-Enfield rifle oil bottle

NAME HERE Address details if availble [4] [5]

 

Great War (1914-1919) contractor. [2] xxx,000 produced. [3]

 

Notes and comments

NAME HERE Address details if availble [4] [5]

 

Great War (1914-1919) contractor. [2] xxx,000 produced. [3]

 

Notes and comments

 

 

 

LEAVE SOME SPACE BETWEEN TABLE AND TABLES BELOW

 

Page Notes & Sources

[1] Photo and information found at the St Edmundsbury Chronicle 2000 website; used with permission (and with our thanks!) http://www.stedmundsburychronicle.co.uk/galleryww1/galleryww1page_08

 

Additional background information On War Service badges at the Imperial War Museum website: https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/on-war-service-badge

 

Additional information at the Imperial War Museum website on “Munitionettes” and the role of women munitions workers during World War I: https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-munitions-worker

 

[2] Great War contractors: Skennerton, Ian. The Lee-Enfield Story page 368; The Lee-Enfield pages 425-426.

 

[3] David Clarke, Hornchurch, Essex, UK has researched some of the official records during his many visits to the Enfield Pattern Room. He prepared a list of production contracts that were awarded to a number of vendors during the Great War (1914-1919). Unpublished. We are greatly indebted to Mr. Clarke; this information would not be available without his research.

 

[4] Grace's Guide to British Industrial History website: https://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Main_Page

 

[5] Birmingham Brass Makers website: https://www.oldcopper.org/makers/birmingham_brassmakers.php

 

[6] Cornell Publications website: http://www.cornellpubs.com/index.php reprints old gun catalogs, books and manuals dating from before 1850 to 2000+ and covering all aspects of firearms including Rifles, Shotguns, Pistols, Revolvers - Firearms, Sights, Telescopes and Ammunition of all sorts. Military and Civilian.

 

 

Suggested Reading

Arms and the Wizard: Lloyd George and the Ministry of Munitions 1915-1916  (1978)
Adams, R.J.Q.   Texas A&M University Press, College Station, Texas, USA   ISBN 0-89096-045-3

256 pages, end notes, index, bibliography, appendix.

 

On Her Their Lives Depend: Munitions Workers in the Great War  (1994)  
Woollacott, Angela   University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, USA.   ISBN 0-520-08502-7

256 pages, footnotes, index, bibliography.

 

Official History of the Ministry of Munitions Volume XI: The Supply of Munitions (2009) Compiled by HMSO
Naval and Military Press, United Kingdom

 

662 pages, DETAILS?

 

NOTES?