Monday, March 8, 2010

U.S. Maritime Service Chief Petty Officer

Maritime Service CPO Hat Badge
U.S. Maritime Service Chief Petty Office hat badge (2nd design)
One piece construction. Seal, 25mm diameter; Anchor, 50mm length.
Coro (Cohn & Rosenberger) hallmark.
Anchor and device stamped brass, sterling plated (marked); red enamel band and shield.
Mid-to-post Second World War era; 1942-1947.

This is the second design of the USMS CPO hat badge; the first was worn from 1938, with the institution of the USMS training program, up until WSA control of the USMS in 1942. The former badge may be found in plain brass or gold, as well as plated silver - as is the case of this badge. The second design is always in silver plate, any other is a pattern or reproduction. The illustrated badge differs from the first with a few stylistic differences - a difference in shield configuration and the inclusion of a motto, and punctured anchor ring. The first employs blue enamel as opposed to red. Interestingly enough, the changed design did not stylistically match that of contemporary uniform coat, cap and shoulder board buttons and snaps which were altered at the same time as the hat badge.

A miniature of this device was authorized and manufactured for wear on overseas caps.

USMS CPO Hat badge, obverse.

USMS CPO Hat badge, reverse.
A close-up of the reverse details the Coro (Cohn & Rosenberger) hallmark as well as the Sterling denotation. Coro, as a corporate name came to be in 1943; however, the incuse hallmark "Coro" with a distinct curly-queue C in serif font dates to 1940 and underwent minor variations until 1945. Moreover, due to wartime metal shortages, Coro produced Sterling insignia items under Government contract from 1942-1947. With the aforementioned in mind, this hallmark adequately dates the device to the early-to-mid 1940s, contemporaneous with USMS insignia change.

USMS CPO Hat badge, production hub.
This hub is composed of hardened steel; of interest are the alignment pins used in the creation of dies. I have already written about production methods specifically outlining the purpose of a hub, here. If you visit the image's page on Flickr, and select "All Sizes", the original size can give you a better idea of the intricacy of design and even the parts of the hub that have been buffed and chiseled.

One reason that dies do not show up often in collections is that as dies wear out, they are taken out of production, defaced and melted down; hubs survive due to the fact that more than one master is required for die production. In terms of USMS hat insignia, hubs are few and far between as there were not a whole lot of insignia houses producing USMS devices.

This specific die was sourced from an estate in Rhode Island; which corresponds to the fact that this is perhaps indeed a Coro hub (see above). Prior to, during and following the Second World War, Coro had a large jewelry factory in Providence, Rhode Island. Thus far, I have only seen period USMS CPO badges with Coro hallmarks.