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CIVIL WAR FIELD GRADE OFFICER’S DOUBLE BREASTED FROCK COAT – RHODE ISLAND BUTTONS:    The classic uniform coat for all officers above the rank of captain, this frock coat was the style worn during the Civil War as described in the Regulations for the Uniform and Dress of the Army of the United States, of 1857 “All officers shall wear a frock-coat of dark blue cloth, the skirt to extend two-thirds to three-fourths of the distance from the top of the hip to the bend of the knee; single-breasted for Captains and Lieutenants, - double-breasted for all other grades.” 

This frock coat was very well made and the tailor incorporated some very interesting and unique features.  The inside of the collar is lined with black velvet and there is an inside breast slash pocket on left side of the coat.  The body of the coat is fully lined with black polished cotton cloth and the sleeves are fully lined with white cotton cloth.  An interesting feature of the lining incorporates a 1 5/8” wide belt, made of the same cloth as the lining, which fastens with a brass two-piece clasp.  This belt would cinch the waist of the coat, emphasizing the physique of the officer and presenting him with a very tailored appearance.  The split tail of the coat is very nicely detailed - decorated with four of the brass State of Rhode Island buttons, and including two deep slash pockets – one in each of the two rear tail pieces – that are accessed by a finished vent in the edge of the seam.  The coat measures 37 ¼” long from the top of the standing collar to the bottom hem. 

Sewn to both shoulders are the two-piece mounting hardware sets for attaching the officer’s “Russian” insignia knots, commonly worn by senior officers.  The two brass attachment loops on each shoulder are nicely covered in matching dark blue wool, evidence of a special effort on the part of the tailor.  All of the buttons on the double breasted front, the cuffs and on the tail bear the seal of the State of Rhode Island.  All the buttons are present and all of them are full form with no depressions or other damage.  

This frock coat is in very good condition with the dark blue wool material retaining its strength and integrity.  All of the seams are intact with the exception of some wear to the lining at the inner openings of the arm holes, and some wear and seam separation at the lower point of the arm hole, right at the point where the seam would be chaffed by the arm pit - all evidence that this coat was worn regularly over a period of some duration.  Otherwise the lining in the body of the coat is in excellent condition.  The wool is very solid with no damage except the points noted as follows.  There are two ½” holes (seen in photos below) immediately to the left of the center rear split tail, which appear to have been caused by wear.  There is some light, minor mothing to the right side of the rear skirt tail and some minor tattering to bottom edge of the coat.  There is some very small – pin hole size – scattered mothing.     

None of these faults are significant issues and in spite of the risk of discouraging a perspective buyer, I want to provide you with a fair and complete description.  As most of us are familiar with a time where soldiers have a variety of uniforms ranging from dress blues to camouflaged fatigues, its worth pausing to remember that these frock coats were not a dress uniform, but instead were the uniform and it was worn on the field of battle as well as in the parlor. 

This is a very attractive Civil War officer’s frock coat, and being double breasted as worn by the senior officers, is one of the less commonly encountered patterns.  In addition, Rhode Island related pieces are relatively less common than items from the larger, more populated states.  (0303)  $3,000

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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