Mc Pheeters Antique Militaria
Home Page About Us Ordering Information Links



1850s DRAGOON BRIDLE FEATURING HORSESHOE SHAPED BRASS BUCKLES w/ A LARGE SIZE MODEL 1847 BRASS DRAGOON BIT:  A very special set, this early US Dragoon era Bridle and Large Model 1847 Dragoon Brass Curb Bit is definitely a show piece of exceptionally rarity and quality.  Complete with the full headstall, featuring brass horseshoe shaped buckles, and a beautiful brass Dragoon Curb Bit, this set would never need to be upgraded. 

This piece stands apart from other Dragoon era bits and bridle sets in that this bit features cast brass cheek pieces and solid brass rings, a very rare characteristic.  The standard Dragoon bits were manufactured with iron cheek pieces and rings which were then brass faced, that is overlaid with a thin veneer of brass.  The brass facing process required a certain level of skill and mastery of metallurgy, and that sort of skilled labor was not available in every part of the country, or in the smaller smithies and forges.  Brass, much softer than iron, was seldom used as the foundation material for bits due to the stress both the horse and rider exerted on the equipment, and under enough pressure, the brass was prone to bend or break.  While it is known that cast brass bits were produced during the 19TH Century, their tendency to break has resulted in complete surviving examples such as this bit being quite rare today.  It is worth noting that the Confederacy experimented with several different productions of bits with cast brass cheek pieces, and they too, experienced the same weaknesses and failures.  What those Confederate bits looked like is unknown due to the lack of an identified specimen; however it is known that the Confederate Ordnance Department was inclined to copy proven patterns of bits used by the Federal army.  While there is no maker marks or other identifying marks on this bit, the possibility exists that it may be one of those brass bits produced by the Confederate arsenal at Clarksville or one of the civilian contractors employed by the Confederacy to produce the brass bits.   

Regardless of the source of this particular bit, there is no question that it was manufactured at some time in the 1850-1860s time period and that it was specifically produced for the military market. Other than the base material of the cheek pieces, this bit is from all other appearances, form and dimensions the pattern of bit used by the U.S. Dragoons.  And, the bit and bridle give every impression of having been together since their period of manufacture and use.   

The headstall is complete and made in substantial proportions of stout leather, obviously intended to survive the rigors of field use.  The equally strong crown and cheek pieces are full length, the billets have not been trimmed as is commonly seen on early headstalls, and the standing loops are all intact.  The cheek straps are fitted with brass horseshoe shaped buckles with iron tongues, and the throat latch and curb strap are fitted with iron or brass faced iron buckles, all of which retain a nice aged patina.  The leather is strong and pliable with a nice finish, and will display well if handled and supported properly.  There is an I or H (depending on how it is viewed) carved into the center of the crown piece, likely the initial of the owner placed to identify this special piece as his property.   

Suspended from the headstall is the larger version of the Model 1847 Dragoon Bit, the same pattern as is shown in Figure 7 and 8 on page 371 of The American Military Saddle, 1776-1945.  An exceptional specimen, this bit shows little evidence of use or wear, and it features a beautiful, unpolished patina on the surface of the brass sidebars and rings.  The bit is full form with no damage, only minor bending at the bridle billet eye typical of solid brass bits no other signs of heavy wear or abuse, and the lower bar is intact with no misshaping.  The iron mouth piece and lower bar are in likewise excellent condition with an even naturally aged brown patina.  

Worth noting is the presence of the original curb strap still in buckled place between the bridle billet eyes.  It appears to be full length and is fitted with a horseshoe shaped brass-faced buckle.  This is a very early curb strap and is a rare survivor in its own right almost impossible to find on the loose.   

This early Dragoon set is the type of special item that seldom comes along, and when it does, it threatens to turn me into my own best customer, requiring a certain amount of discipline to remember that I cannot keep it all.  Due to the limited number of dragoons, their equipment was never made in large numbers, and the survival rate is very low when compared to the later Civil War horse equipment.   This excellent set would be appropriate to display with an early Dragoon Saddle, elevating the value of the pairing significantly, and it would be equally appropriate displayed with a Civil War officer's saddle, as the officers on both sides of the conflict had a decided preference for the early dragoon influenced equipment.  This offering is a rare opportunity to acquire a very nice piece to add to your collection.  (0211)  $1975



Ordering Instructions

Identified Items  


Edged Weapons

Saddles and Horse Equipment


Collectors Ammunition

Uniforms, Insignia, Hats

Canteens and Mess Gear

Gun tools, Bullet molds and Parts

Field Equipment and Artillery

Original Ordnance Manuals, and Photos 

US Army Medical

Reference Books and Reprints