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Remembered Today:

Comparison: Balmorals and Tam O’Shanters


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19 minutes ago, FROGSMILE said:

Yes, the colour of the body of the officers’ pattern Balmoral is unchanged, but the binding is no longer that tan colour.  Instead the band is ‘self cloth’ with just a stitched down tape in a bow shape as a last vestige of the old adjusting tape at centre rear.

 

NB.  Interestingly the cloth used is identical in shade to the 32oz ‘Crombie cloth’ (a proprietary type of Melton) that used to be made in a now defunct factory in Scotland to make the once famed ‘British Warm’ officers’ overcoat.  I’ve often wondered if the cloth used is identical.

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The cap you show is a Tam O Shanter rather than a Balmoral, the differences between the two was quite succinctly explained by the thread starter, from which I learned to distinguish between the two.

 

Tam's are made from a dome which has the band of the same fabric stitched to it whilst the Balmoral has the dome and band in piece with merely a trim stitched to it.

 

 

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5 hours ago, Jerry B said:

 

 

The cap you show is a Tam O Shanter rather than a Balmoral, the differences between the two was quite succinctly explained by the thread starter, from which I learned to distinguish between the two.

 

Tam's are made from a dome which has the band of the same fabric stitched to it whilst the Balmoral has the dome and band in piece with merely a trim stitched to it.

 

 

 

Apologies Jerry, I had not meant to cause any confusion.  

 

Unfortunately the significant differential in manufacture has been lost within the Army for some years then, as the officers cap that I’ve shown is known within the regiment(s) as a Balmoral purely by virtue of the shade of cloth shown and noticeably smaller dimensions to the soldiers ToS, which is made from a different cloth, in a different shade and to a larger size.  

 

Interestingly the contemporary issue cap is of an even smaller size to the old officer pattern.

 

Thank you for pointing out the difference in design during that earlier time, it was rather more like the construct of a beret.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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1 hour ago, FROGSMILE said:

 

Apologies Jerry, I had not meant to cause any confusion.  

 

Unfortunately the significant differential in manufacture has been lost within the Army for some years then, as the officers cap that I’ve shown is known within the regiment(s) as a Balmoral purely by virtue of the shade of cloth shown and noticeably smaller dimensions to the soldiers ToS, which is made from a different cloth, in a different shade and to a larger size.  Interestingly the contemporary issue cap is of an even smaller size to the old officer pattern.

 

Thank you for pointing out the difference in design during that earlier time, it was rather more like the construct of a beret.

 

 

Thanks again Froggy.

 

I had also noticed the similarity in design between the Balmoral and the Beret.

 

I still need to find out if possible, when the "earlier" type of tan Balmoral went out of use as an aid to dating the example I posted pictures of.

 

Perhaps the thread starter will put in an appearance at some stage and comment.

 

 

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16 minutes ago, Jerry B said:

 

 

Thanks again Froggy.

 

I had also noticed the similarity in design between the Balmoral and the Beret.

 

I still need to find out if possible, when the "earlier" type of tan Balmoral went out of use as an aid to dating the example I posted pictures of.

 

Perhaps the thread starter will put in an appearance at some stage and comment.

 

 

 

I haven’t seen the originator of the thread for quite some time, I think that he had experienced a tragedy and have not seen him post since. We had been in contact via PM.

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2 hours ago, FROGSMILE said:

 

I haven’t seen the originator of the thread for quite some time, I think that he had experienced a tragedy and have not seen him post since. We had been in contact via PM.

 

I am sorry to hear that, hard to know what to say.

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1 hour ago, Jerry B said:

 

I am sorry to hear that, hard to know what to say.

 

Yes, I am really quite worried about his wellbeing.

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13 hours ago, Jerry B said:

 

in particular I was asking about the GW Tan Balmorals, for both OR's & Officers introduced in 1915, as mentioned in the first post of this thread of which an officers example was shown.

Interesting that tan officers examples continued until relatively recently and probably answers my question, regarding dating this example.

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You sure this is a military balmoral (ignoring the HLI badge)? 

 

I had a civilian balmoral absolutely identical to this which was purchased at a retailer in Edinburgh.  I have also had an almost identical one, the only difference being dicing on it, again purchased locally.  I can't recall who the actual maker was.  When working in a bagpipe makers/highland attire outfitters shop many years ago, we also used to sell such balmorals.  You can buy similar if not identical products today from Robert Mackie of 'Bonnet Toun'.    

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On 17/05/2019 at 23:49, Ron Abbott said:

 

 

You sure this is a military balmoral (ignoring the HLI badge)? 

 

I had a civilian balmoral absolutely identical to this which was purchased at a retailer in Edinburgh.  I have also had an almost identical one, the only difference being dicing on it, again purchased locally.  I can't recall who the actual maker was.  When working in a bagpipe makers/highland attire outfitters shop many years ago, we also used to sell such balmorals.  You can buy similar if not identical products today from Robert Mackie of 'Bonnet Toun'.    

 

Ron it’s important to remember that unlike the enlisted men, the officers were not issued with their headdress but had to purchase their own.  They did that from their tailor’s, or gentlemen’s outfitters and in that sense they were ‘civilian balmorals’.  There was nothing to stop a civilian buying the same cap, albeit without insignia.  Only soldiers were ‘issued’ a military cap, generally of ToS type.  I’m aware that you are very knowledgeable on Scottish matters, I’m really just emphasising the British military practice concerning the kitting out and equipping of British Army officers.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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9 hours ago, Ron Abbott said:

 

 

You sure this is a military balmoral (ignoring the HLI badge)? 

 

I had a civilian balmoral absolutely identical to this which was purchased at a retailer in Edinburgh.  I have also had an almost identical one, the only difference being dicing on it, again purchased locally.  I can't recall who the actual maker was.  When working in a bagpipe makers/highland attire outfitters shop many years ago, we also used to sell such balmorals.  You can buy similar if not identical products today from Robert Mackie of 'Bonnet Toun'.    

 

That is indeed a good question, though Froggy has supplied one answer.  The truth be told, I do not know, I have yet to have it in my hands, but even when I do, as a private purchase item I might never know.  This is partly why I am asking when they were no longer used as a Military item, as if it seems too modern then perhaps a return will be in order.

It is hard to find many genuinely old examples to compare linings etc against and I was largely comparing it against the one shown at the start of this thread which seems to have similar arrangement for the bow/tails...

Edited by Jerry B
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I don't know what it's being sold as, but if it was worn by an officer in the HLI....I'd expect the MacKenzie tartan patch to be behind the badge, not that civilian style rosette. 

Not definitive I know, as there is evidence of the tartan patch not always being worn especially in the field; but add to that the cap badge itself....is that the cap badge of a commissioned officer?  Maybe that's all that was available, but the whole thing just seems a tad suspect to me.

 

Frogsmile....no issue with what you say.  Enlightening as always. 

 

It may well be genuine, but if I was buying, I'd certainly be looking for more proof that it was a genuine HLI officer's headwear.

 

 

 

   

 

 

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5 hours ago, Ron Abbott said:

I don't know what it's being sold as, but if it was worn by an officer in the HLI....I'd expect the MacKenzie tartan patch to be behind the badge, not that civilian style rosette. 

Not definitive I know, as there is evidence of the tartan patch not always being worn especially in the field; but add to that the cap badge itself....is that the cap badge of a commissioned officer?  Maybe that's all that was available, but the whole thing just seems a tad suspect to me.

 

Frogsmile....no issue with what you say.  Enlightening as always. 

 

It may well be genuine, but if I was buying, I'd certainly be looking for more proof that it was a genuine HLI officer's headwear.

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

Always pleased to contribute where I can Ron.  Be careful with regards to the use of tartan patches on Balmorals and ToS as somehow confirming provenance.  Although the practice began during WW1 as a feature of ‘battle patches’, with their gestation during the lead up to the 1916 Somme battles, not all battalions of all regiments wore them, and they were not completely widespread until 1918.  Indeed it was only during WW2 that they were at last enshrined formally in dress (officers) and clothing (enlisted men) regulations at Army level.  Prior to that point they reflected regiments (or even battalions) quite literally doing their own thing.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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  • 4 weeks later...

later I know but an interesting image showing the HLI wearing both Tos and Balmoral, though the blue banded type with black badge backing rather than tartan?, hard to be sure from this image if it is perhaps tartan or not

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Edited by Jerry B
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It’s a black silk rosette, Jerry.  The plaid patch was worn only on khaki.

 

 

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Edited by FROGSMILE
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4 hours ago, FROGSMILE said:

It’s a black silk rosette, Jerry.  The plaid patch was worn only on khaki.

 

 

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Thanks Froggy as always.

 

I am in debate with the seller who claims the cap I posted is military issue, but he has accepted a return though keeps arguing the case it seems.

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On 15/06/2019 at 18:35, Jerry B said:

 

 

Thanks Froggy as always.

 

I am in debate with the seller who claims the cap I posted is military issue, but he has accepted a return though keeps arguing the case it seems.

 

Glad to help, Jerry.  It’s important I think to be not too purist.  Notice that the ‘Tam-o-Shanter’ whose image I’ve posted has the brownish ribbon and tails of the type you are researching, but it is not one-piece, you can see the join of the band around the edge of the ribbon and also where the separate top is joined to the body (sides) via a double line of machine stitching.  Yours has a rosette of brown silk, whereas this one has a Mackenzie plaid patch.  Different manufacturers used different methods, but the nomenclature of the cap/bonnet within the Army would remain the same, according to its colour and material (cloth).

 

P.S.  you will never find a contemporary officer admitting to wearing a Tam-o-shanter, that term is (has been for a long time) reserved for the soldier’s (i.e. other ranks) cap.  Instead they refer to their ‘Balmoral’, with its Royal castle connotation.  Pure snobbery of course, but true nonetheless, and with the different coloured, superior quality cloth that I have explained.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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  • 8 months later...

What a facinating artical, and has answerd many question, Ive ben making miniture militery headress and was getting confused at the name Tam o shanter and the Balmoral, also the Lowland bonnet and  even the Irish Cubaen, I post some pictures of the finished ones

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