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MODEL 1881 FIRST PATTERN HOLSTER – IDENTIFIED TO THE 8TH US CAVALRY REGIMENT, COMPANY C - VERY GOOD SPECIMEN:  A particularly nice specimen, this First Pattern Model 1881 Holster is boldly stamped on the flap “C 8 CAV”, identifying that it was issued within Company C, of the 8TH US Cavalry Regiment.  Given the period which these holsters were available, it is most likely that this holster was in the inventory of the 8TH Cavalry while they were stationed in the Arizona Territory and serving in the field during the Apache Wars.   

The first of the series of the Model 1881 Holsters, these First Pattern Model 1881 Holsters were 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.   

In addition to the 8TH Cavalry Regiment inventory stamps, 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 “D.C.L.” - the inspector’s initials, and “W.H.V.” – 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 all very legible.  The surfaces of the body and flap are crazed, 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 which features identification to a specific cavalry regiment will be a special addition to complete your Models 1874 and 1885 Sabre Belts, or your Model 1882 Cavalry “Sherman” Belt.  (0213) $1450

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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