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PATTERN 1872 OFFICERS GOLD BULLION AIGUILLETTES – A VERY RARE SET IN EXCELLENT CONDITION:  From the French aiguille, or “needle”, Aiguillettes date from at least the 15TH Century.  These braided cords intended to be worn on one shoulder of the uniform and often rendered in gold or silver bullion, are believed to originate in history from the lacing which was used to secure the plates of armor together on medieval soldiers and knights.  In modern usage in this form since at least the 15TH Century, the aiguillettes became strictly ornamental, featured decorative metal tips, and were worn to denote a special office or honor.  

The U.S. Army has worn aiguillettes since at least the early 1800’s.  For example, by the 1830’s aiguillettes were being worn to designate an assignment to regimental or higher staff duties, and at the time of the Civil War, they had been incorporated into the army Band Drum Majors’ uniforms.   

The Pattern 1872 Aiguillettes were ordered by the army for wear with the dress uniform coat by officers serving in specific assignments.  As described in the Regulations for the Uniform and Dress of the Army of the United States, of 1872: “SHOULDER KNOTS - For officers of the Adjutant General’s and Inspector General’s Departments, and for Aides-de-Camp to General Officers - …an aiguillette of gold cord to be worn with the right shoulder-knot and permanently attached thereto, according to the pattern.”  The regulations continued, “Aides-de-Camp and the Military Secretary, who have increased rank, will wear the aiguillette with the uniform of the General Staff.  Aides-de-Camp to Major and Brigadier Generals will wear the aiguillette with the uniform of their Regiments or Corps.   

Given the fairly small number of officers who were authorized to wear the gold bullion aiguillettes, production of these cord sets must have been relatively limited during the Indian Wars era, hence surviving examples are rare.  That this aiguillette has survived at all is notable and it is indeed, a special offering.   

The cords are in excellent condition and both tips are present.  They were worn by an officer, no doubt, but very gently, and they were not abused either in use or later in storage.  They are full length as they were worn by the officer.  It stands to reason that they were made up in one length by the uniform manufacturers and then at the time of purchase, the dealer would size the cords to match the stature of the officer.  Where the two raw ends of the cords on this set are joined, they are wired together with a small wire loop which served as the point of attachment to the shoulder knot. Both of the gilt tips are present and in full form.  

Like so much of the officer uniforming and insignia, as it was privately owned by the officer and not part of the government owned inventory, these Pattern 1872 Aiguillettes did not filter into the collectors’ market via the avenues of the normal surplus sales, but rather were held in family estates until such time as they decided to part with them.  I honestly cannot recall the last time I saw a set of these cords offered for sale.  This set surfaced in a very old, comprehensive collection and as the opportunity presented, I bought them without hesitation.  You’ll look long and hard before you find another set, much less one of this quality. (0202) $1150 



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