Russian deals are either unmarked or are stamped with small indented letters on their ends.
Inferior qualities are frequently without marks at all.
American deals are not generally branded, but are sometimes marked with one, two, or three red chalk marks, to indicate quality.
The letters used to indicate quality are liable to change year by year. A list of the principal marks in use is published annually in Laxton's Price, Book, and other similar works.
Nearly all the information contained in the following remarks is taken from Colonel Seddon's Builder's Work.
"Shippers' and Quality Marks. - The different qualities of Memel and Dantzic timber are known as crown, first or best middling, second or good middling, third or common middling; whilst inferior balks are classed as "short and irregular."
"Memel balks of first, second, and third qualities are almost always scribe-marked at one end of the balk; but these marks must not be mixed up with the number of float or raft, which is also scribed at one end of each balk, and the distinguishing number of balk in the float, which, with the cubic content, is scribed about the centre of every balk floated in the docks, where timber of the same shipment and quality is roped together in separate floats or rafts, and an accurate registry kept of the cubic content, and what becomes of each piece.
"The scribe marks on Baltic timbers are often very numerous and perplexing, most of them being private marks put on by those through whose hands the timber has passed after being squared. On Dantzic they are much more numerous than on Memel or Riga timber; but with these marks of ownership we have nothing to do; all we care about are the bracker's or sorter's marks, distinguishing the different qualities from each other.
"The following are the recognised marks for the middling qualities. Very little crown timber is imported, being rarely used by builders, except perhaps for special Government purposes. Memel crown timber is marked as below, but with only a single stroke : -
First or Best Middling.
Second or Good Middling.
Third or Common Middling.
(Scribed at centre.)
(Scribed at end.)
(Scribed at centre.)
(Scribed at end.)
' Stettin timber is seldom marked unless to distinguish different qualities in the same cargo.
'some Riga shippers always use the quality marks for best and good middling, and others only when different qualities are shipped in the same cargo. The common middling quality is rarely shipped from Riga.
"There is no absolute uniformity about these quality marks, as all shippers from the same port do not adopt them, many using private marks of their own, either alone or in addition to the ordinary marks, the latter being seldom omitted on Memel or Dantzic balks. The safest plan, in the case of large and important works, is to order the timber direct from the broker, selecting it out of shipments from houses who have earned a reputation, from the care with which their timber is bracked or sorted; for there is a great difference in the same market quality of timber from different shippers; one shipper's good middling being often nearly equal to another's best middling.
"If, amongst a lot of good middling logs, one or two marked as common middling or best middling, as the case may be, are found, it does not always follow that any deception has been practised, since the timber may have changed hands; a balk here and there may have been considered by the last owner as too good for common, or too bad for best middling, and been shifted into a good middling float." 1
The following private marks used by a well-known firm of shippers are given as an example : -
Crown . . SK K SKK R
Best Middling SK SK R
Good do. . SK SK R
Common do. . SK SK R
As the letters are very roughly marked with the scribe, it will require some practice to recognise the marks. . . .
The addition of R to the SK marks indicates Russian timber shipped by the same firm (S. Koehne).1
"Baltic Planks, Deals, and Battens are, speaking in general terms, classed in the market as Crown, Crown Brack, First Quality, Second Quality, etc., down to even Fifth Quality.
"Very few crown, or crown brack, goods come into market, there being little or no demand for them for building purposes. The different classes of deals, etc., will be found to vary very much in quality, one shipper's second quality being often equal to another's first quality. Hence some shippers have become well known for the greater care with which their goods are bracked or sorted, and their names or trade marks may be safely taken as a guarantee of a high standard in the different qualities into which they are classed."
Among the marks for Dantzic crown deck deals are - CSC. EH. EB.EB.EB.
MK.MK.MK. HP.HP. HP. Some Dantzic crown brack deck deal marks are - FGF. MK.
"Russian and Finland Deals, which are chiefly first and second quality, or according to the shippers prima and secunda, generally come unmarked into the market, or only dry stamped or marked at their ends with the blow of a branding hammer, such marks being also termed hard brands. Some good shipments from Uleaborg (Finland) are dry stamped U S for "mixed" (first and second quality unsorted) and U S in red paint for third quality goods. Onega and Archangel deals are dry stamped thus with the shipper's initials, or private mark, and often with a number in addition, which, however, does not denote the quality, but merely the number of the yard in which they were stored before shipping.