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CIVIL WAR US NAVY OFFICER’S UNIFORM – IDENTIFIED COMPLETE MATCHED SET -  CUSTOM MADE DOUBLE BREASTED FROCK COAT & TROUSERS – BEAUTIFUL EARLY US NAVY UNIFORM:   A very rare offering, this identified Civil War US Navy Officer’s uniform set is styled as the one shown on page 91 of Blue Jackets – Uniforms of the U.S. Navy of the Civil War Period 1852-1865 by Ron Field, and described as a US Navy undress uniform styled in accordance with the Naval Regulations of July 31, 1862.  A complete set of a double breasted frock coat and matching trousers, this uniform incorporates a number of very desirable features, including the officer’s name – “Corning” – written on the trouser label.   

As with the officers of the US Army, US Navy officers were expected, and required, to furnish their own uniforms at their own expense.  However, unlike their land locked brethren in the army, the naval officers had the opportunity to avail themselves of the services of tailors throughout the world while on lengthy deployments overseas.  Tailors in such faraway places as Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Manila, Cape Town, Liverpool, Barcelona, Naples and thousands of ports of call, large and small, across the globe enjoyed the patronage of naval officers from all the navies of the world, and its is likely each officer had his favorites. 

Such is the case with this uniform, bearing the maker’s tags of the Dalbera Brothers tailor shop in the Mediterranean coastal city of Nice, France.  Obviously custom made using a fine grade of dark blue polished wool broadcloth, this uniform included special touches and features that speak to the officer’s sense of style, and his ability to pay.   

The body of the coat is fully lined with black satin and the sleeves are fully lined with white pin striped polished cotton cloth.  The placket is fitted with button holes on each side of the front opening, allowing the coat to be buttoned either left over right, or right over left – a feature significant to a naval uniform of this period.  It was not particularly unusual for a naval officer to suffer a incapacitating wound to, or lose, one of his arms in an accident or in an engagement.  So, the option of buttoning his coat in either direction would allow him to use whichever hand was still functional - a grim, but very practical consideration in the design of the coat.  The double pleated split tail of the coat is very nicely executed, with 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 39” long from the top of the collar to the bottom hem.   

All of the buttons on the double breasted front bear the seal of the United States Navy, and are maker marked “A. M. C. PARIS”, not surprising since the uniform was made by a tailor in Nice.  All the buttons are present and all of them are full form with no depressions or other damage.    

This frock coat is in excellent condition with the dark blue wool material retaining its strength and integrity, and all of the seams are intact.  The lining in the body of the coat is in very good condition with some fairly minor wear spots in the center of the back of the lining as can be seen below in the photographs.  The wool is very solid with no damage noted.    

The trousers are made of the same material as the coat, and the waist band is lined with the same white pin striped polished cotton cloth used to line the sleeves of the coat.  The fly and suspender buttons are all black hard rubber bearing the name of the tailor “DALBERA” and the city “NICE”.  The pocket buttons are plain black hard rubber.  All of the buttons, save one suspender button on the waist, are present and intact, and firmly attached by solid stitching.  There are two front hip pockets and one rear pocket.  The adjustment belt across the back of the trousers is full length and complete with the maker marked buckle.  There is a black with gold embroidery maker’s tag for the Danbera Brothers at the rear “V” of the waist band and a second white maker’s label on the underside of the rear belt with the maker’s name and, written in ink, what I believe to be the name of the Naval Officer for whom the uniform was made.  The script is a little difficult to decipher, however it is sufficiently clear that the officer could be identified by surveying a list of the officers who served during, and in the years surrounding, the Civil War.  Those lists are available, however time did not allow me to pursue that research and I will leave it to the new owner to explore.  One other feature worth mentioning is the cut of the cuffs, done in the dropped heel style of the period, and reinforced on the inner surface with a narrow strip of heavy black canvas to prevent undue wear from the officer’s footwear - all very nicely done.       

The trousers are in likewise excellent condition with the dark blue wool material retaining its strength and integrity, and all of the seams are intact.  The wool is very solid with no weak points.  There is one hole, approximately 1/8” in diameter low on the right leg which appears to be a burn hole, perhaps a cinder from the stack, or an errant cigar or pipe ash.  There is also a minor tear, approximately ˝” long where the right front pocket buttons, but when the pocket is closed, this is not visible and does not detract from the appearance of the trousers. 

None of the faults indicated in the description of either piece 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 service personnel  have a variety of uniforms ranging from dress blues to camouflaged fatigues, its worth pausing to remember that these 19th Century uniforms were not a dress uniform, but instead were the uniform and were worn at sea as well as in the parlor, and given the nature of ship board life, it is a wonder this uniform survived at all, much less in this outstanding condition.     

This is a very attractive Civil War US Navy Officer’s uniform and would be a worthy addition to any nautical collection  (0305) $2,750

 
 
 
 
 

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