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CIVIL WAR PATTERN OF 1851 SHOULDER STRAPS RARE MATCHING PAIRS IN VERY GOOD TO EXCELLENT CONDITION:   These are very desirable, and quite rare, matched pairs of Officer's Pattern 1851 Shoulder Straps.  Introduced before the Civil War, this same pattern was worn by officers on their garrison and field uniforms through the end of the 19th Century, in the halls of the War Department and the parade fields of the frontier forts alike, and on the battlefields of Gettysburg, the Little Big Horn, and on San Juan Hill.   

Pattern 1851 Officer Shoulder Straps are more often found as single pieces that were separated through the years.  Whether found as singles or pairs, more often than not they are mismatched and show considerable wear and aging.  These are particularly nice matched pairs, together since the officers wore them, which would display very well on their own, or would be a valuable upgrade for a uniform coat lacking the insignia. 

I have the following sets available and each is described below with accompanying photographs. 

 

No. 1  CIVIL WAR PATTERN OF 1851 SHOULDER STRAPS FOR THE RANK OF CAPTAIN OF CAVALRY RARE MATCHING PAIR IN VERY GOOD CONDITION:  Measuring 4 long and 1 wide, these straps have survived as a matched pair in very nice condition.  Each strap bears the two fully intact pairs of gold bars signifying the rank, on a yellow velvet field indicating the officer served in the cavalry, likely a company commander.    

Surrounding the field is a very pronounced border of 3/8 wide embroidered high quality gold bullion.  These borders are tarnished, but still retain some of the original gilt, with no tears or wear points, and the embroidery is still firmly attached to the base.  Along the inside and outside edges of the embroidered bullion, and long each outer edge of the captain bars, is a fine border of jaceron, the thin bullion bead characteristic to well made shoulder straps.  The jaceron is fully intact, with the exception of the short section along the edge of one end on one of the straps.     

These straps show obvious signs of having once been on a uniform coat, and subject to regular wear, suggesting the Captain wore this pair on his regular duty uniform in garrison and in the field, and not on a dress uniform coat worn only on special occasions.  The yellow velvet fields on both straps is fully intact, but show wear in the center sections where the straps crested the arch of the officer's shoulder.  The wear is limited to the nap of the velvet, and the base cloth is still intact with no tears or holes.  The velvet in the protected areas closer to the bullion bars retains the nap and the full color.  The straps are full form and lay flat with none of the curling often found in these old straps.  The blue wool which edges the straps is intact with very little wear limited to one end of one strap which in not noticeable when displayed.  The balance of the blue wool edging is fully intact around the edges and on the section that folds under the strap, fully stitched to the white cotton base material.   

Matched pairs of cavalry officer shoulder straps available on the market are especially notable due to the fewer number officers who served in that branch and the popularity of cavalry officer accoutrements and insignia.  This is a particularly nice set. (0615)  $650

 

No. 2  CIVIL WAR PATTERN OF 1851 SHOULDER STRAPS FOR THE RANK OF FIRST LIEUTENANT OF CAVALRY RARE MATCHING PAIR IN VERY GOOD CONDITION:  Measuring 3 7/8 long and 1 wide, these straps have survived as a matched pair in very nice condition.  Each strap bears the two fully intact single  gold bars signifying the rank, on a yellow velvet field indicating the officer served in the cavalry, likely a company commander or executive officer.    

Surrounding the field is a pronounced border of wide embroidered high quality gold bullion.  These borders are tarnished, but still retain some of the original gilt, with no tears or wear points, and the embroidery is still firmly attached to the base.  Along the inside and outside edges of the embroidered bullion, and long each outer edge of the lieutenant bars, is a fine border of jaceron, the thin bullion bead characteristic to well made shoulder straps.  The jaceron is fully present, with a couple of minor breaks along the outer edge where it was exposed to the most wear, but none of the jaceron is missing.       

These straps show obvious signs of having once been on a uniform coat, and subject to regular wear, suggesting the Lieutenant wore this pair on his regular duty uniform in garrison and in the field, and not on a dress uniform coat worn only on special occasions.  The yellow velvet fields on both straps is fully intact, showing only the lightest wear in the center sections where the straps crested the arch of the officer's shoulder.  The wear is limited to the nap of the velvet, and the base cloth is still intact with no tears or holes.  The velvet in the protected areas closer to the bullion bars retains the nap and the full color.  The straps are full form and lay flat with none of the curling often found in these old straps.  These straps are backed in thin black enameled cloth which has some minor wear on one of the straps, the other straps backing is in very good condition.  This backing may suggest that this pair pre-dates the Civil War as the earlier straps were often backed with thin black leather or this black enameled cloth.  

Matched pairs of cavalry officer shoulder straps available on the market are especially notable due to the fewer number officers who served in that branch and the popularity of cavalry officer accoutrements and insignia.  This is a particularly nice set. (0406)  $600

 

No. 3  INDIAN WAR PATTERN OF 1851 SHOULDER STRAPS FOR THE RANK OF CAPTAIN OF INFANTRY RARE MATCHING PAIR IN EXCELLENT CONDITION:  Measuring 4 long and 1 5/8 wide, these straps have survived as a matched pair in excellent condition.  Each strap bears the two fully intact pairs of silver bars signifying the rank, on a sky blue wool field indicating the officer served in the infantry, likely a company commander. 

This set can be dated quite accurately due to the background color and the color of the rank insignia.  The infantry used sky blue from before the Civil War until it was changed to white in 1888.  The color of the bullion used to signify the rank of captain was gold until 1882 when silver bullion was introduced for both the oak leaves used to identify a lieutenant colonel and the bars for a captain.  The presence of the sky blue background and the silver captain's bars date this set as having been used between 1882 and 1888.   

Surrounding the field is a very pronounced border of 3/8 wide embroidered high quality gold bullion.  These borders have some tarnish, but still retain much of the original gilt, with no tears or wear points, and the embroidery is still firmly attached to the base.  Along the inside and outside edges of the embroidered bullion, and long each outer edge of the captain bars, is a fine border of jaceron, the thin bullion bead characteristic to well made shoulder straps.  The jaceron is fully intact, with no breaks or missing sections.   

These straps show stitching marks on the underside, an obvious sign of having once been on a uniform coat, but as they show little, if any, signs of wear, this set was on a uniform coat he wore on special occasions.  The sky blue wool fields on both straps is fully intact, showing no wear and retaining a bright clear color.  The straps are full form and lay flat with none of the curling often found in these old straps.  The blue wool which edges the straps and forms the backing is intact with no wear or holes.   

Matched pairs of officer shoulder straps in condition such as these seldom are available on the market and this particularly nice set would be impossible to upgrade. (0405)  $600

 

No. 4  CIVIL WAR PATTERN OF 1851 SHOULDER STRAPS FOR THE RANK OF SECOND LIEUTENANT ASSIGNED TO A STAFF RARE MATCHING PAIR IN EXCELLENT CONDITION:  Measuring 3 7/8 long and 1  wide, these straps have survived as a matched pair in excellent condition.  Each strap features a dark blue field without any insignia of rank, indicating the officer was a second lieutenant who served on a general staff or in one of the staff corps.      

Surrounding the field is a very pronounced border of 3/8 wide embroidered high quality gold bullion.  These borders have very little tarnish, and still retain much of the original gilt, with no tears or wear points, and the embroidery is still firmly attached to the base.  Along the inside and outside edges of the embroidered bullion, and long each outer edge of the captain bars, is a fine border of jaceron, the thin bullion bead characteristic to well made shoulder straps.  The jaceron is fully intact, with no breaks and no missing sections.

These straps show stitching marks on the underside, an obvious sign of having once been on a uniform coat, but as they show little, if any, signs of wear, this set was on a uniform coat he wore on special occasions, or perhaps he was promoted to first lieutenant before he had a chance to put much wear on this set.   The dark blue fields on both straps is fully intact, showing no wear and retaining a bright clear color.  The straps are full form and lay flat with none of the curling often found in these old straps.  The blue wool which edges the straps and forms the backing is intact with no wear or holes.   

While a staff second lieutenant's shoulder straps might not create the exciting mental images as those worn by a cavalry or infantry officer, these staff officers performed critically important functions such as Ordnance and Engineers.  In any case, matched pairs of officer shoulder straps in this excellent condition are seldom available on the market and this particularly nice set would be impossible to upgrade. (0407)  $450

 
 

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