When you start collecting antique military items you will inevitably run across the British Broad Arrow. This is a mark that was stamped, printed and engraved on countless military weapons and clothing through out the 20th century. It signifies that these items were the property of the British Empire.
The Broad Arrow or pheon represented the head of a Broad Arrow or javelin, with long barbs. It could be said, that the Broad Arrow was one of the first widely used trade marks. There is some debate as to when it was first actually used, but consensus says it probably started between 1300’s – 1600’s.
Along with the Broad Arrow marks, there are other marks that may indicate more historical information. The combination of a Broad Arrow with a number underneath it, typically represents a British inspector’s stamp.
During the revolutionary times, Great Britain, would often mark trees with 3 slashes to indicate ownership known as the King’s Broad Arrow. Many of these trees were tall eastern white pines that could be used for ship building and making masts for large vessels.
The British Broad Arrow was also used to designate British ownership for convicts sent to Australia.
Here are just a few examples of Broad Arrows that were part of the United Kingdom at one time and are seen in many WW1 and WW2 military items.
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