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MODEL 1881 FIRST PATTERN HOLSTER – LEGIBLE ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL STAMP - VERY GOOD SPECIMEN:  A particularly nice specimen, this First Pattern Model 1881 Holster is the first of the series of the Model 1881 Holsters, designed to carry both the Model 1873 Colt and the Model 1875 Smith and Wesson Schofield Revolvers.  Produced for a very short period before being supplanted by succeeding patterns with larger belt loops, these early specimens are one of the very historic holsters of the Indian Wars period.    

As described in US Military Holsters and Pistol Cartridge Boxes, by Meadows, on page 104, these holsters were made with the narrow belt loop, specifically intended to be worn on the leather sabre belts and they predate the need for the larger belt loops which would follow with the introduction of the woven cartridge belts.   As the new cartridge belts were adopted, many, if not most, of these First Pattern Model 1881 Holsters were modified by replacing the belt loop with larger loop as designed into the later holster patterns, and these specimens which escaped the modification process are now notably scarce.   

The holster flap bears the legible “Rock Island Arsenal” within a rectangle cartouche, correct for the First Pattern holsters manufactured in 1881-1882.  The tip of the flap is stamped with a legible “D.C.L.” - the inspector’s initials, and an adjacent faint stamp which is likely the piece worker’s initials.   

As with all of these early Indian Wars, this holster shows signs of use, but given the low survival rate and the environments in which they were used and stored, that they survive at all is remarkable.  The condition of this specimen is very good, with solid stitching throughout and with all of the components, including the plug, intact.  The body is full form and solid with a strong, legible “US” in the oval.  The flap is full form, supple, and the stampings are very legible as noted.  The surfaces of the body and flap have some light crazing, but the surfaces are stable.  The belt loop is very solid and the surface is overall smooth without being crazed. 

These First Pattern M1881 Holsters in their original configuration are anything but common, and one in this condition will be an attractive addition to complete your Models 1874 and 1885 Sabre Belts, or your Model 1882 Cavalry “Sherman” Belt.  (0632) $1250



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