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MODEL 1841 DRAGOON ENLISTED PATTERN STEEL SPURS – A VERY RARE PAIR IN EXCELLENT CONDITIONThis matched pair of Model 1841 Dragoon Enlisted Pattern Steel Spurs is one of the rarest of the early Dragoon era horse equipments.  Pictured on page 19 and on the cover of The American Military Spur by R. Stephen Dorsey, that particular pair of Model 1841 Spurs were the only specimens known to exist at the time of publishing.  Extraordinarily rare, only a very few pair have surfaced since that publication became available, and they continue to be the rarest of the regulation US Army spurs.  

The Ordnance Manual of 1841 described the spur as “Spurs, wrought iron, japanned black:  the plate attached to the heel of the boot by a point behind and 2 screws at the sides – the shank – the rowel (steel).”   

With such a limited description, the positive identification of the Model 1841 Spur may have been nigh impossible were it not for a chance discovery.  A pair of spurs matching the Ordnance Department description was discovered on Bannerman’s Island in the remnants of military equipment remaining just prior to the island’s condemnation by the State of New York.  A small group of collectors had arranged to have access to the island and castle to do some last minute scrounging.  They found that the top floor of the tower had been used to store the “less desirable” saddles and had been exposed to the elements for years due to a collapsed roof.  It was on this top floor the collectors found stacks of Ringgold and Grimsley Dragoon saddles, but time, Mother Nature and the resident crows and buzzards had combined to affect the perfect tragedy – these valuable relics had been rendered into useless relics.  However, as a result of this exploration, a pair of Model 1841 Spurs was found wired to one of the equipment rings on the remains of a Model 1847 Grimsley Dragoon Saddle – a strong association that coupled with the Ordnance Department description to confirm the identification of this rare spur. 

This style of spur incorporated the “screw and spike” attachment method without any leather straps.  The heel spike not only limited the movement of the spur and would cause the spur to hang on debris as the soldier walked through rough terrain, the spike also levered against the layers of leather used to construct the boot heel, in effect tearing the heel apart.  The aggravation caused by the heel spike was well documented in military correspondence of the period, and from surviving specimens, it seems that many of the soldiers alleviated the problem by breaking the spikes off flush with the heel plate.   

This pair has survived in full form with the heel spikes intact, all the screw holes intact, the heel plates, shanks and rowels all holding their shape and they are in excellent condition showing little if any wear.  This pair appears to have been plated, probably in tin, one of the early efforts to prevent corrosion.  It is known that the army began experimenting with plating and brass facing of the horse equipment and other issued items, all in an attempt to prolong the service life of the equipment.  Some of this plating exhibits some wear on the upper swell of the shank as can be seen in the photographs below, likely the result of wear against the saddle skirt and stirrup strap.  The steel surface is very smooth with no pitting and the rowels are both complete with all their points and they spin freely.   

The Model 1841 Enlisted Spur was the issued pattern for a very short period, replaced in 1847 with the introduction of the Grimsley Horse Equipments which included a new pattern of spur made of brass.  This short life span in the army’s inventory, coupled with the limited number of mounted soldiers during this period, resulted in a low production and an obviously low survival in today’s collections.  This offering is a exceptional opportunity to add such a rare set of spurs to your collection.  (1101)  $1200



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