origin of the officers cuff ranks and ornamentation

Mark Conley

Active member
One of the most memorable items seen on an officers dress coat is the elaborate system of bars or stripes, usually made with gold braid, that are a part of the lower arm sleeve or cuff. You may have noticed those large, golden buttons on your sleeve cuff if you were enlisted. It serves a very colorful purpose now, but in days of yore, these items served a more practical purpose for the officer and yes, the enlisted man too.

The practice started in the 1600s, when a British naval commander of a warship noticed that his midshipmen and officers were wiping their noses on the arm sleeves of their jackets, instead of using a handkerchief, as any gentleman should. Since the commander of a ship could set the standard for dress aboard for the officers and crew, the commander proscribed the addition of fancy loops and enclosing stripes, as a gold braid, to the arm sleeves of his officers jackets, as a rank indicator, and large buttons with raised embossing for his enlisted men.

For those that have never tested the feeling, gold braid or a large button with a raised design is about the roughest thing to drag across a tender nose, and it would not take more than a few swipes to stop a person with a cold or runny nose from performing the practice. As always, other ship captains, and marine commander on the ships saw the practice, and adopted it for their own, with the end result of standardization, throughout the navy and eventually the armed services, of using the decorations to indicate rank or stature.

Although now we have more hygienic soldiers (sure, yeah, right), the use of the gold braid and buttons are still a part of today’s dress uniforms, even though shoulder boards and other items have taken over the rank display.
Hm... :?:

Is this true or just semi-true?
I have heard this one before.

It's a lot of our military traditions and customs that has a strange and interesting background.
It HAS to be true. Watch what soldiers in BDU's use as a hanky. The sleeve! (in the field, of course)
FUnny, when I read the word hankey there, initially the image of toilet paper arouse, and I bcame totally disgusted.
the good old days when people were allowed to be sadistic and no one said anything about it. Well if they did we haven't heard from them. :p They're probably dead.
wiping your nose on your sleeve is kinda gross... just use a snot rocket...
(1) plug one nostril and **** head back
(2) blow air out of nose as fast and hard as possible with a sudden stop (as to not get it all over your chest or arm!!)
(3) wipe the aftershock on your pants leg with your hand.

My grandpa taught me that when i was about 6 or 7... Now that man was smart!!!
lmao, what i do when i am in uniform is just kinda snort it back in, kinda nasty, but it works i guess 8)
Honestly, you are about to make me sick... Lets share secrets like these over PMs... The cuff thing was interesting, but it wasn't asking for ways to take care of our snotty problems.