This black felt ratings cap is from the 1930’s and was given to Kiwi Mason Nelson at age 7. This seemingly ordinary cap has a very interesting story. Inside the cap is initialled J. Seaton. In 1931, Nelson and his family were making the journey back to New Zealand from Singapore to begin his schooling.
Nelson and his family travelled aboard RMS RUAHINE. Aboard the ship, there was a group of British sailors on draft to NZ, whose company Nelson quickly became interested in knowing. Nelson became a favourite among the group of sailors, some of whom had children Nelson’s age in the UK. The sailors made Nelson their unofficial mascot, and outfitted him with a small, tailor - made sailor suit, complete with a cap donated by seaman 'Shorty' J. Seaton. Seaton was a small man which is why the cap fit young Nelson's head perfectly. The cap is all that remains of the specially made suit.
In 1944 Mr. Nelson joined the RNZNVR and was sent to the UK for training. Co-incidentally, Mason Nelson travelled to the UK on board RMS RUAHINE, the same ship where he first tasted life as a sailor.