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PATTERN 1885 CAVALRY BANDSMAN – MUSICIAN SHOULDER KNOT AND CHEST CORDS SET – A VERY SCARCE SET IN EXCELLENT CONDITION:  This complete set of Pattern 1885 Cavalry Bandsmen or Musician Shoulder Knots and Chest Cords, or Aiguillettes, is an extremely scarce offering, virtually never found as a complete set, nor in this excellent condition.   

As the army moved out west following the Civil War, significant changes were made to the uniforms.  One notable change took place with the elimination of the shell jacket adorned with the horizontal rows of herringbone trim in the color of the service worn by the buglers and musicians, which was replaced by the dress coat.  While the army continued to provide the herringbone trim on some of the 1872 and 1884 Dress Coats issued to bands, the photographic evidence from the period also shows that the bandsmen wore the standard dress coat of their particular regiment without the herringbone trim. 

The 1872 Uniform Regulations stated:  

Bands will wear the uniforms of their regiments or corps.  Commanding officers may at the expense of the Corps, sanctioned by the Councils of Administration, make such additions of ornaments as they may judge proper.” (emphasis added)   

This last statement created the potential for some fairly outlandish affectations, limited in practice only by the imagination of the commanding officer.  This latitude didn’t last forever, and unfortunately – or fortunately, depending on your point of view, there doesn’t appear to be a photographic record of what sort of ornaments the local commanders imagination provided with which to decorate their bandsmen’s’ uniforms.  Some things are best left to mystery. 

In 1885, the army standardized the band uniforms additions, as well as accoutrements, and accessories service wide with the issue of General Order 104, which stated:

Bands will wear the uniform generally of their regiments.  Commanding officers may, upon appropriations made by the Councils of Administration, add such ornaments as they deem proper to the uniforms of the chief musician and bands, and upon proper application they will be supplied by the Quartermaster’s Department with mounted helmets having cords and bands and hair plumes conforming in color to the arms of the service, and lyres white metal, aiguillettes with shoulder knots, music pouches, white linen trousers (according to the pattern in the office of the Quartermaster-General, to be worn upon such occasions as may be prescribed by the commanding officer).” 

This set of Pattern 1885 Cavalry Bandsmen or Musician Shoulder Knots and Chest Cords, or Aiguillettes, has survived as an intact set, and shows little, if any, evidence of having been issued or used.  Both shoulder knots are full form, have the complete lining on the underside, original general service buttons are in place, the brass mounting hooks are present, and the full length ties all retain the sealed tips.  The chest cords, also known as aiguillettes, are all intact, full length and other than some minor snags, are in likewise excellent condition.  The brass cord tips are firmly in place.  The color of the knots and the cords retains the bright yellow hue, with no fading, soiling or discoloration.    

This is an extremely attractive set, and even if the opportunity were to present, it would be difficult to upgrade.  This is a uncommon opportunity to take your Pattern 1884 Cavalry Dress Coat up a notch with a very dramatic addition.  (0222)  $875   

HISTORICAL NOTE:  For no other reason than I had the image available, it has a “hometown” appeal for me, and that I thought you should have the opportunity to see it, I’ve included below a photograph of the Band Barracks at Fort Sam Houston here in San Antonio.  This building still survives on “Infantry Post”, a section of Ft. Sam across the street from the famous stone walled Quadrangle.  These unique buildings were once present on most of the larger army posts during the late 19TH Century, but due to expansion and need for more modern buildings, most of the Band Barracks buildings across the nation have been torn down through the years.  In the dim recesses of my memory, it seems to me that at one time I was told this is the last – or one of a very few – that still survive intact and in its original form.  The covered portico at the top front of the building provided a protected open air area for the band to practice where the rest of the post could enjoy the music.  It is easy to imagine soldiers relaxing on the porches of their barracks, and officers and senior NCOs taking the evening air with their ladies, as they listened to the regimental band’s serenade. 



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