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CIVIL WAR MODEL 1863 BRASS FACED ARTILLERY BIT – VERY NICE SPECIMEN:  The Model 1863 Brass Faced Artillery Bit was developed during the Civil War and was manufactured only during the final two years of the war.  Many of these decorative bits were subjected to post-war modifications resulting in relatively few of them surviving in their original form which makes them one of the scarcer Civil War Bits. 

This specimen shows evidence of use, but still retains the majority of the original brass facing.  Differing from brass plating, brass facing is an applied heavy veneer of brass overlaid only on the exterior surface of the iron cheek pieces.  The brass facing has a pleasing undisturbed aged patina overall.  The curb bar is stamped “US” on the right end of the bar.  

This bit has not been abused nor has it suffered from age or poor storage, with no damage or bending out of its original shape.  The exposed steel on the inside faces of the branches and the mouthpiece are overall clean with no significant pitting and generally smooth.  The lower bar at the bottom of the bit, often removed for a variety of reasons, has remained intact.   

The only modification to which this bit was subjected is the removal of the upper rein rings which were attached at the rear of the boss swells.  These artillery bits were fitted with two sets of reins – one set attached to the upper rings and the other set attached to the rein slots at the bottoms of the cheek pieces.  The double reining system was considered by some of the officers and soldiers as unnecessarily complex, and too the second set of reins added to the amount of harness which could become tangled or fouled to the determent of both horse and rider.  These bits, as with all horse equipment, were subjected to as much modification as the senior officers would tolerate.  Such is the case with this bit, as it is obvious that it remained in service long after the upper rein rings were removed and it apparently served a gun crew and their horse team quite well.     

These Civil War Model 1863 Artillery Bits are prized today as one of the most attractive bits issued by the U.S. Army.  Francis Bannerman and other military surplus dealers listed these bits as Civil War officers’ bits and many collectors continue to cherish this belief.  While it is certain that officers from all branches of the army obtained these bits for their own use, these distinctive bits were designed for the teams of heavy horses that delivered the field pieces to the battlefields.  Overall, this is a very nice specimen and one that will display nicely in your collection.  (0823) $475

 

   

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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