MODEL 1881 FIRST PATTERN HOLSTER – VERY GOOD
SPECIMEN: 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.
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.M.” – 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 overall smooth and
bright with only some isolated minor crazing, and the
leather surfaces are stable. The belt loop is very
solid and the surface is overall smooth and shiny
without being crazed.
These First Pattern M1881 Holsters in their original
configuration are anything but common, and in this
remarkable condition in spite of the evidence of being a
holster that saw service in the field, will be a special
addition to complete your Models 1874 and 1885 Sabre
Belts, or your Model 1882 Cavalry “Sherman” Belt.