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MODEL 1874 CAVALRY BRIDLE – COMPLETE SET w/ ALL THE COMPONENTS  - HEADSTALL, SHOEMAKER BIT, REINS, & CURB STRAP – A RARE SET IN VERY NICE CONDITION:  This is the same Cavalry Bridle Set issued with the Model 1874 Horse Equipments as described and shown in Ordnance Memoranda No. 18.  In historical context, this was the bridle newly issued when Custer’s troops rode onto the Little Big Horn, and which continued as the standard cavalry bridle until the adoption of the Model 1904 Bridle.   

Complete with all the components as issued, this bridle set includes the Model 1874 Headstall with the bullseye rosettes, a Model 1874 Shoemaker Cavalry Curb Bit, a set of Model 1874 Reins, and a Model 1874 Curb Strap.  Save for the underlying halter, this set represents the full set of equipment which the Custer-era cavalry horse wore on its head. 

The Model 1874 Headstall is complete with the crown piece, brow band with both bullseye rosettes, both cheek pieces and the throat latch.  The crown piece ends in two billets on both sides – one billet is for the cheek piece that attaches to the bit and the other billet is for the throat latch that passes under the horse’s jaw - and all four of the billets are full length – not common as many of these were shortened by the soldiers in order to eliminate extra lengths of leather to streamline their tack.  Complete with all the proper brass frame buckles, the bridle is supple and pliableThe top of the crown piece has a hand carved set of initials, “HGH” which were probably applied by the soldier to whom this bridle was issued in order to differentiate his bridle from all the others in the company.  The throat latch, often found to be missing on these headstalls, is full length with both correct buckles intact.  The leather surfaces of all the components have some crazing with some areas retaining a smooth and shiny surface.  All of the straps are supple and strong with no weak points, breaks, or other damage.   

The Model 1874 Shoemaker Cavalry Bit is an excellent example of this famous cavalry bit.  This specimen is a No. 1, indicated by the ½” high arch in the mouthpiece.  It is plainly stamped “RIA” on the off side (right) branch, indicating it was manufactured at the Rock Island Arsenal.  The bit is in excellent condition with no damage, nor any sign of heavy wear or use.  Both of the original brass “US” bosses are present, as is the lower slobber bar.  

The Model 1874 Cavalry Reins are full length with both full length billets intact and both brass buckles present.  As originally manufactured, the reins are made of two equal lengths of leather strapping which are sewn at the center point, providing a continuous loop for the soldier to control the horse.  At some point, in order to adjust the length of the reins or to remove a weak point, a second overlapping stitched joint was sewn just down from the center joint – the type of work which would have been accomplished by the company level saddler.  The leather is supple with no breaks or weak points and the surface is very good with no crazing and only minor flexing.  There are two wear points on one edge, close together which may be where the reins wore against another piece of the horse’s equipment.  Neither of these affects the strength or integrity of the reins, and they are not particularly noticeable, but are mentioned here in the interest of a full description.   

The Model 1874 Cavalry Curb Strap, which served to retain the Model 1874 Shoemaker Bit in the horse’s mouth, is complete with both brass buckles, and both billets are full length.  In excellent condition, all of the stitching intact and the supple leather has a smooth surface with no crazing.    

This is an excellent specimen of the Model 1874 Cavalry Bridle, complete and fully intact with the bit, curb strap and reins.  Such complete sets of these Custer era bridles which are complete and fully intact are very scarce and difficult to find.  A quality set such as the one offered here in which the leather and steel components are in such remarkable condition are almost impossible to find.  This piece will be a notable addition to your collection and would be a highlight in any Indian War Cavalry display.  (0472)  $2550

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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