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CIVIL WAR MODEL 1864 McCLELLAN CAVALRY SADDLE – AN EXCELLENT COMPLETE SPECIMEN – WITH GOVERNMENT INSPECTOR’S INKED ACCEPTANCE STAMP:  One of the finest Civil War Model 1864 McClellan Saddles known to exist and having survived in excellent condition, this specimen is complete with the skirts, full length quarter straps, both girth straps, original stirrup straps, sweat leathers and hooded stirrups, all of the iron and brass hardware, an especially nice Model 1859 Girth, a carbine socket, and of particular note, all six original full length captured coat straps with the original leather stops present – just as it left the Ordnance depot.   

This saddle was manufactured by C. Prudden of Philadelphia, and bears the brass maker’s tag on the front extension of the left side bar.  One of the outstanding features of this saddle is that it still retains the rarely encountered government inspector’s acceptance stamp, applied in ink on the cantle seat surface, “GEO. BOOTH U.S. SUB INSP OF SADDLE TREES 1864”.   These ink stamps were relatively light and as it would take very little use to wear the ink from the rawhide, very few examples of these inspector’s stamps survive in collections today.  Booth’s initials, “GB” are also stamped into the underside of the near side stirrup strap iron loop.  I have seen Booth’s initials stamped in this same location on other saddles manufactured by Prudden and he may have been assigned to that particular shop or the Philadelphia area as the government inspector.     

The rawhide covering the seat is in excellent condition, retaining an attractive light color with no wear points, tears or holes and with all of the seams intact.  All of the brass coat strap mortise plates are present and firmly attached.  All of the iron rings, barrel staples and footloops are present, with the majority of the original black lacquer japanned finish present on the iron fittings.   

The black leather components are all in excellent condition with no breaks or tears, are still supple with no weak points, and generally retain a bright shiny surface. 

The significance of all six of the original coat straps being present cannot be overstated.  These relatively fragile straps simply did not survive very long in the field and required constant replacement.  The presence of any original coat straps present on a Civil War era saddle is notable, and that all six full length straps are present on this saddle is exceptionally rare.  As noted above, these six straps are original to the manufacture of the saddle as they are still “captured” in the mortise slots by the round leather stops riveted to each strap to prevent it from being withdrawn from the mortise slot and separated from the saddle. 

From what I have noted on remnants of these straps I have seen through the years, it was this very attempt to retain the straps that caused them to break – the stop positioned the same section of the strap so that it wore against the edges of the strap slots and mortise plates to the point that the leather eventually wore through.  Of course, the wear was further aggravated and accelerated when the straps were secured around the soldier’s equipment load of blanket, overcoat, etc.   The company saddler replaced the straps as needed, and from the coat straps on the loose that I’ve seen through the years, it appears the stops were omitted on the replacement straps.  All six coat straps are supple and the buckles retain the majority of the original black lacquer japanned finish.

The skirts are in full form and supple, the saddle bag retaining straps are present on both skirts, and there are maker’s stamps that are still discernable on both skirts.  The leather surface is overall smooth with very little sign of wear or aging. 

The quarter straps are full length with no breaks or weak points, and they join at the proper spaded “D” rings on each side, from which depend full length girth straps. 

Often missing from these saddles, and almost impossible to find on the loose, the two original sweat leathers are present and both are in excellent condition with both stirrup strap loops present on each one.  The original full length stirrup straps are in very good condition with no weak points.  

The stirrups are particularly nice, with strong wooden frames that have no splits or damage.  Each stirrup is fitted with full form leather hood with no damage and a bright smooth finish.  The early Civil War McClellan Saddle Hooded Stirrups featured a narrow tread and a closely fitted leather hood, both of which served to provide the soldier with a very short space to fit his shoe or boot, making it difficult to “keep” his stirrups.  In response to the soldier’s complaints, as are featured on this pair of stirrups, the depth of the front bell of the hoods was increased to provide a better purchase on the stirrup. 

A nice addition to the saddle is the presence of a Model 1859 Carbine Socket, complete with an equally nice buckle and with a full length billet which bears the Civil War maker’s stamp, “C. PETERS”. 

Completing the saddle is an excellent Model 1859 McClellan Saddle Woolen Girth, manufactured by “HOOVER CALHOUN & CO” and so marked on the leather safe protecting the “D” ring.  This full length standard pattern girth features a rich colored indigo or dark blue woolen webbing body; with all of the leather billets, keepers, iron buckles and “D” ring present and intact and the girth-billet loop sewn across the center of the girth.  The indigo webbing is in excellent condition, full form and retaining a bright color with no wear or holes.  The leather components are all very strong and pliable, the maker’s stamp is fully legible and the iron buckles all freely move.  These girths have become quite scarce on the market, difficult to find in any condition, and normally not included with saddle offerings.  Finding these early girths in this condition is almost impossible, and it is one of the many highlights of this saddle.

Overall this is an excellent and complete example of the Civil War Model 1864 McClellan Saddle, a quality specimen of the grade that almost never appears on the open market and is seldom found in even the most advanced collections. SOLD



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