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CC41 - decoding the codes

Discussion in 'Suits' started by Baron Kurtz, Nov 29, 2011.

  1. Over in the British suits thread, we've been meandering slightly and are in serious danger of highjacking things. So, here's a thread to discuss all things CC41 - we should also include ||O|| labels, too. I believe these are quiet well known in the womenswear scene, though I've never seen one on a piece of man's clothing. Feel free to post here, Ladies. The topic should interest you, too.

    CC41 refers to "Clothing Code, 1941" as part of the wartime specifications/restrictions on cloth designed to preserve and reduce waste of raw material. The CC41 label was used roughly from 1941-52 (?? please correct me by PM if wrong and I'll update this) (image to be added later) and often (usually?) has a number printed under it. We think this number refers to the grade of cloth. Ben will hopefully cross-post his Hansard evidence. Ben, we MUST make that trip to the British Library soon. HBK will also hopefully cross post his wardrobe survey.

    A survey of my CC41 wardrobe produced:

    Sadly my lab coat (white drill cotton) has a CC41 label but no designation numbers.

    Wool Tweed caps: 'Spec no. 206' or simply '206'
    (note the lack of 'X')

    Cotton shirt: '3025/1 X'

    Jacket: 'X 209A', 'X 209E' and 'X 209F'

    I assume that the letter following the number is some designation of colour or style (pinstripe etc). Both the 'X 209A' labels are in identical blue with white and blue double pinstripe cloths. The 'X 209E' was a grey and black crow's foot design, and 'X 209F' is a plain black flannel. Incidentally, the 'X 209E' is a Burton's suit. The Burton's label also bears the CC41 mark, and the number 'X 78E'. So it seems that Burton had their own grading system - maybe they already had a cloth in their system designated '209'? Or maybe their cloth '78' was designated '209' by the relevant Dept. I know Burton made their own cloth. Does anyone know if they made cloth for the general consumption? More confusion.

    Again, hopefully this thread can be devoid of too much chatter, and stick to the point of researching and collating info on this very interesting topic.
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2011
  2. herringbonekid

    herringbonekid I'll Lock Up

    East Sussex, England
    these are the codes i've found thus far:

    X209F : dark blue chalkstripe flannel suit trousers.
    X209F/2 : dark blue chalkstripe SB peaked worsted suit.
    209F: dark blue chalkstripe flannel DB 3 piece suit.

    while the above are all dark blue chalkstripe each is clearly a different fabric, including the two flannels.

    212: mid brown DB overcoat.
    209: brown dogtooth-ish tweed jacket. (last number might be wrong, could be a 3).
    Q311/2: brown shop coat.

    S.D.R/1: patterned tank top (not fair isle).
  3. Cobden

    Cobden Practically Family

    Oxford, UK
    Just thinking out loud a bit, but perhaps instead of referring to specific cloth types and grades through measuring thread count and general quality, it may refer to pre-war price. It seems that amongst the primary motivations for the scheme was to ensure affordable clothing pricing for the populace, and as such it would have been a somewhat easier process to use pricing as a starting point for those attempting to compile a list of cloths.

    Let's imagine the civil servant in question goes into a mill in 1941, and asks what fabrics they sell for 7/- a yard (I have no idea whether this is a feasible amount, but you get the idea), and makes a list of them, all of which become X001. He then looks at those that sell for 10/- a yard, all of which become X002, etc. Rinse and repeat through all mills, import merchants, etc, and a full list is compiled. As a measure of quality and scarcity, price would be a very good way to do it, after all, and provide a basis for future price alterations.

    This would also correspond to one of the (Hansard?) transcripts Ben posted in the other thread, concerning a drop in quality regarding a specific fabric - to ensure it remains in the X209 (IIRC) price bracket, certain cloths became poorer quality
  4. Miss Sis

    Miss Sis One Too Many

    I have had a look at a few items, I have a lot more to go through, but for starters (Are we able to tabulate this data)

    X209F Dark Grey heavy flannel trousers. Not part of a suit
    X209/1 Checked sports jacket, blacks, blues, reds, medium weight wool
    227A (no X) Brown checked wool suit
    MU 208 Dark blue/grey checked suit with black overcheck and red pin (Also on the CC41 label it states Size 38)
    X227D Heavy wool double breasted brown over coat. Red overcheck
    H173 Orange machine knot sleevless pullover.

    I have not started looking at the shirts yet, and some other bits in the loft
  5. Ben, I have already put what we have in the first 3 posts into a table in ms excel. When the table is built up a bit more - come on guys, help with the data gathering! - I'll send it to you and hbk by email.

  6. Miss Sis

    Miss Sis One Too Many

    This is interesting,

    Utility Stockings
    HC Deb 20 January 1943 vol 386 c236W 236W

    § Mr. R. Morgan

    asked the President of the Board of Trade whether any guarantee of durability is given with utility stockings for women?

    § Mr. Dalton

    No, Sir; but the utility specifications, for stockings as for other goods, are designed to provide a reasonable minimum quality within the severe limits set by the raw materials and capacity available in war-time. I have stopped the production of one of the utility specifications which has proved unsatisfactory, and I am having others revised. In addition, I shall shortly require each manufacturer to apply an identification mark to all utility knitted goods made by him. This will enable my officers to take up specific complaints about the quality of utility stockings with the manufacturer.
  7. Miss Sis

    Miss Sis One Too Many

    Printed Cotton Hankerchiefs code 601

    Mr. H. Wilson

    The first consignment of utility handkerchiefs, specification 601, was despatched by the manufacturers about a month ago. The quantity produced is relatively small and some retailers may, therefore, have difficulty in obtaining supplies.

    This was 1948
  8. A hepworths suit. Black worsted w/ white pinstripes. X 209H

    I think it will be useful here to give what information we have about manufacturers alongside the numbers.

    Paddys 3 piece DB blue w/ white and blue pinstripes from Burton's X 209F

    A trawl of eBay reveals:

    a blue overcoat made by Guards X 212
    A brown houndstooth jacket X 227C

    And a ladies skirt suit suit Ben sent me a link to earlier - blue, fawn and white herringbone-ish box check made by Elmoor Regd., London W1 X 227D
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2011
  9. Louise Anne

    Louise Anne Suspended

    Yorkshire ,UK
    I have been working on the cc41 for since 2005 in the context of women's clothing side, the principle must be the same as men's
    I am NO nearer to understanding what when on back then than when I started out.

    There is the cc41 label, the preferred list of manufactures (which Burton could very easily be on) and a quota system, they all somehow worked together.

    After 1946 a lot of clothes were marked cc41 and made and sold for export only these been of a higher quality.
    " it seems that Burton had their own grading system"
    I think this explains that .

    My specialist field is in hosiery and a few companies do say on their web site that they made silk and nylon stocking for export only under instruction from the UK government this is where the preferred list but they could not sell them in the UK, as you imagine that in say 1948 after the war had ended that would not go down well in the UK if it was commonly know and UK people could not buy them so I think there a lot of info not in the public domain or lost before it was even written down.

    If something dose not add up this could be why.
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2011
  10. Miss Sis

    Miss Sis One Too Many

    I think Steve makes a good point,

    Utility Wool Dress Cloth
    HC Deb 03 June 1946 vol 423 cc1585-6 1585

    § 14. Sir W. Smithers

    asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the fact that the largest selling wool dress cloth comes in class 210A and is now sold 54 inches wide for three coupons a yard, and that, owing to increases in costs and wages, manufacturers cannot continue this cloth at the price, which entails it going into four and a half coupons per yard, he will raise the specification for this cloth from 210A to 210B, for three coupons.
  11. Miss Sis

    Miss Sis One Too Many


    From my list, the only one with a makers mark is the Brown Overcoat, and that is a paper Burtons label.

    Rest all unmarked
  12. thanks Ben
  13. A few more:

    Pair of faux lambskin gloves. Specification No. 252

    Machine knit tank top made by Paramount. 1623B T. V..

  14. RobStC

    RobStC A-List Customer

    Edinburgh, Scotland

    The only CC41 item I have at the moment is a Montague Burton SB peak-lapelled suit, in a plain dark navy blue worsted. The code reads '209A' (no 'X'). Unfortunately the Burtons stock label has disintegrated, so no date info. The trousers have turn ups but no watch pocket or fancy extras.

    Interesting thread, chaps; thanks for all the input to this as well as the much lauded British suits thread. Must try to find the time to post a few of my own suits on that one.....:eek:

    Rob StC
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2011
  15. herringbonekid

    herringbonekid I'll Lock Up

    East Sussex, England
    looking through a bag of vintage labels, i found some loose CC41 labels. unfortunately i can't remember what garments they belonged to.
    from the top: the classic X209F. next down, the often overlooked and misinterpreted X208A. and a mysterious, rather cheeky newcomer at the bottom: H435D. MDBJ.


    here's a Scottish blanket label, the economic and catchily titled 1B:


    and a print on an unused length of 'Scottish Utility Cloth': 227D (All Pure Wool):


    will the code of the Utility labels ever be cracked ? is there a dusty dossier somewhere containing all the information we need to put us out of our misery ? does any healthy person actually care ?

    tune in next week.
  16. Miss Sis

    Miss Sis One Too Many

    Some more, not my collection, just off Ebay

    228 (Could be three) Also state wash as wool. Brown striped heavy collarless shirt

    X65 Cotton Hankies Striped Various colours (I presume the mark is the same on all of them)

    64 Cotton Hankies Plain (No X)

    X227C Brown and cream dogs tooth sports jacket

    332 Brown leather gloves
  17. .
    Try as I might, I can't avoid seeing Pac-Man in those bally things.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2011
  18. The trainspotters are on the case. We will certainly crack this case. The dossier exists.

  19. avedwards

    avedwards Call Me a Cab

    London and Midlands, UK
    Mid grey flannel trousers: X226A (the A and the X are in faded blue whilst the numbers are in black).

    These seem strange because no attempt seems to have been made to save cloth as they have cuffs, a flapped back pocket, pleats, side adjusters, belt loops and brace buttons. The only thing they lack is a watch pocket.

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