Barrel shuttlecocks

Museum LogoThe new logo recently adopted by the National Badminton Museum is based on a barrel shaped shuttlecock.  Barrel shuttles were in use in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and an article in Badminton Now, (March 1984, page 33) by Ian Maconachie includes very useful information on these shuttles and we reproduce part of that article relating to barrel shuttlecocks for the benefit of readers.

"The Badminton Association of England was formed in 1893 and the first All-England Championships were held in 1899.  From that date shuttlecocks became a little more standardised as more clubs were formed although still no specification was laid down.  Some of the best of that day were manufactured in France where a little badminton had been played for some years.  Their leading shuttle was known as the ‘barrel’ so called because its shape which closely resembled that of a barrel.  Chicken feathers were commonly used and they were inserted into the cork with the flat side of the quill to the outside.  The natural inward sweep of the feathers produced the curved barrel shape which gave it its name.  Most of these shuttles had a stitching half way up the quills and another one, which was quite useless, around the quills on top of the base.  This is the first record of a stitching around the feathers held in place by an adhesive, and this was the first manufacturer, whose name was never recorded, to supply shuttles in a reasonable standardised shape.  A decided advance in shuttlecock construction was made, albeit the importance of constant weights was still not understood.

The base was covered with best French chamois leather and finished with a binding round its circumference and usually, but not always, a second around the dome. These shuttles were first made with chicken feathers, which had little strength, but after a few years experimenting they were replaced with the wing feathers of the goose, which proved to be very much stronger.

There were a lot of complaints in England from the early tournament players about the considerable variation in length of flight of the barrel shuttles. 

The barrel shuttle was used in the first All-England Championships but it was found to have had a short playing life and there was considerable variance in length of flight so that it was never entirely satisfactory.  In 1909, after lengthy deliberation by the Badminton Association it was replaced in the Championships by an early version of the modern shuttle."

barrel shuttle tubeOne of the memorabilia items collected when the offices were in Bromley was a tube for shuttlecocks, labelled Jacques’ Association Shuttlecocks – first choice.  Warranted to Size, Weight and Flight.  With Leather Bottoms, and Double-Stitched Feathers.  Specially manufactured for the Company in France:- Finished and tested in England.  On the box handwritten notes by Humphrey Chilton – "Specimens of Barrel—shaped shuttlecocks much in use up to and around 1910.  From the archives of the Crystal Palace Badminton Club."

barrel shuttleInside the box were 6 shuttlecocks, one marked Jacques 1st Association as on the box which appears to be a barrel shuttle, never used.  The other five have no makers name and are probably not barrel shuttles. 

Warning – never assume shuttles are always replaced in their original box!!!