1850’s 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.
the source of this particular bit, there is no question
that it was manufactured at some time in the 1850-1860’s
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.
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
The iron mouth piece and lower bar
are in likewise excellent condition with an even
naturally aged brown patina.
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