Makers' Marks

Here are photos of nine marks or stamps of companies that were authorised by the Home Office ("HO") to supply corrugated iron for Anderson shelters.

The Star and Crescent mark is particularly interesting because it includes the word GALVANINED - which appears to be a misprint of GALVANISED. However, I am grateful to Harry Coates who has explained that, although galvanised is the more familiar UK spelling of the word, it has sometimes been spelt with a 'z' in the UK - for instance in an article by Leeds Galvanising. But why substitute an 'N' for a 'Z'? The answer - again from Harry Coates - is that printers of all sorts often improvised when it came to letters (such as the rarely used Z) that were not available for block printing.  And because the word is written in an arc, the typesetter would have thought it acceptable to use an "N" instead of a "Z". (Those interested to read more about the ingenuity of early 1900s typesetters might like to look at this fascinating story about the printing of the Declaration of Irish Independence during the 1916 Easter Rising.) 

It is interesting that the word Best appears in three of the stamps, and it was also found in 2016 on a roof in Adelaide, South Australia - see photo on right. The corrugated iron was brought out from the UK as valuable ballast in ships that would return with Australian produce. The house was built in around 1902 although the iron may have been added in a subsequent re-roofing. Other iron on the same roof was made by another UK company - John Lysaght & Co. Sue Pentelow (and I) would be very pleased to hear from anyone who can provide any further information about the BEST company and/or this export trade.

Please do email me if you find any more marks, or can add to my understanding of those already featured.

1. Best Roof Brand

2. British Make, Merino


3. Phoenix

4. Fountain

5. Globe

6. DL Diamond

7. Trademark Staley

Here is a photo of one of the stamps found near Westerham in Kent.

8. Emu Best

9. Star and Crescent

See the notes at the top of this web page for an explanation of how the word GALVANISED came to be printed as GALVANINED .

10. Swallow - Extra Best

This mark consists of two concentric circles, the outer being 8 1/2" diameter. Between them, in capital letters, are the words SWALLOW (at the top) & EXTRA BEST (at the bottom). Below the circles are the familiar H O initials with a crown between. In the middle is a picture of a rather elegant swallow flying right to left wings spread. 

11. Clarion


Most of the stamps were found on existing or recycled shelters in and around London. Other locations were as follows:

The Merino stamp was also found in two shelters in Pantyffynnon, Ammanford, Wales, and in recycled shelters in Cambridge and Northamptonshire. The Globe stamp was also found in Cambridge as well as in a shelter in Bristol. And a Best Roof Brand mark was also found in Cambridge.

The rather fetching Emu was in a shelter in Storridge on the Worcestershire/Herefordshire border.

The Trademark Staley stamp was found not far from Stalybridge near Manchester. The name may therefore be a reference to the Staley, or Staley Bridge, Ironworks. But it was also found on a re-erected shelter in Kent.

The Swallow mark was found in Ipswich, and the Clarion mark on corrugated iron in an allotment in Buckhurst Hill in Essex.

A number of shelters were recycled for use by farmers after the war, and some are still used - for instance as covers under which pheasants can lay their eggs. Stamps on sheets found in Norfolk include the Merino ram, Trademark Staley, Target, Emu, Fountain, Globe, and Best Roof, as well as the Star and Crescent - not yet found elsewhere.

Martin Stanley