Boot brushes have appeared many times over the years of this blog and the army marked examples are very common, regularly examples dating back as far as the First World War turn up for under £1 each. Those stamped up for naval or Air Force use are much scarcer, but I have managed to pick up a pair of Admiralty marked examples over the last few years. Until recently however a wartime dated RAF example eluded me. It was therefore fantastic to find this example a few weeks back for just 50p:The brush is typical of all boot brushes, with a wooden back and bristles glued in small clumps into holes drilled into one side:The bristles are made of hair, like nearly all brushes manufactured before the widespread use of nylon, and this is stamped into the wood along one side of the brush:That this is an RAF brush is clearly indicated by an AM and crown mark indicating the Air Ministry and the date of 1941:‘Kent’ is the name of the manufacturer and indicates that this brush was produced by GB Kent & Sons Ltd. This firm is still trading today and their website gives some history:
G B Kent & Sons Ltd, manufacturers of brushes since the eighteenth century, is one of the oldest established companies in Great Britain.
Kent Brushes was founded in 1777 by William Kent in the reign of George III. We hold a pre-eminent place in the history of brush making, with an unbroken record of excellence in the quality of our production, which has been recognised by the granting of Royal Warrants for nine reigns.
The Kent family continued to run the company for six generations until 1932 when the last of the three Kent brothers passed away. Then Mr Eric L.H Cosby, owner of Cosby Brushes Ltd, entered into an association with G.B Kent & Sons. This started a new chapter in Kent’s long history, and since then, Kent Brushes has been under the creative and dynamic direction of the Cosby family.
The only other marks on the brush is an RAF type stores code marked in minuscule type into the same side as the AM mark:Airmen were issued a pair of boot brushes on enlistment, just like their counterparts in the other services and were then responsible for the upkeep of their own footwear, polish being bought out of their own pay at the NAAFI.