This miniature portrait was painted in either Hong Kong or Shanghai, by an unknown artist. The sitter is a navy officer. I had originally thought he was American, but a kind visitor advises that he is more likely British.
The US Navy has never used the loop above the stripe or gold buttons on the sleeve. We use a five pointed star to designate an officer of the Unrestricted Line and other devices to designate corps, i.e. I wore a device of three oak leaves and two acorns to indicate that I was a member of the Supply Corps.
The loop is typically British but has been adopted by other navies in Continental Europe and even, as I recall, in Thailand. I believe that Great Britain is the only country that used gold sleeve buttons, however, none have ever been included as a part of rank designation for a Commissioned Officer rank in any navy.
As best I can tell the portrait is that of a British Warrant Officer, a Bosun with over ten years service. The gold stripe and loop on his sleeve is 1/2 inches in width. If he had less that ten years service the stripe would be only 1/4 inches wide.
This kind insight is very helpful and reinforces the ability to use images in studying the history of sitters in portraits. 224