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UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS MODEL 1878 CANTEEN WITH THE ORIGINAL LEATHER STRAP – EXCELLENT SPECIMEN OF A VERY RARE USMC CANTEEN:  Manufactured at the Rock Island Arsenal, this is the same canteen issued to the Indian War US Army soldiers as the Model 1878 Canteen, however this canteen is one of the very rare specimens issued to the United States Marines.   

Apparently produced, and so marked, in very limited numbers, this is only the second “USMC” marked specimen that I have seen in almost 30 years.  I have been told a small quantity of canteens marked the same way were discovered in a southern California costume shop a number of years ago and they quickly disappeared into collections.  

The combination of the small size of the Marine Corps during the late 19Th Century, and the conditions in which they served at sea and in far flung garrisons and battlefields around the world, contributed to a very low survival rate of “USMC” marked equipment, including these canteens.   

The “USMC” brightly stenciled on the front of the cover is very legible.  The cover shows some staining from storage, but otherwise shows little evidence of issue or wear.  The cloth is solid and free from any holes or tears, and the seams are intact.  The canteen is complete with both of the triangular hangers that were attached as part of the modification process the arsenal used to convert the Civil War canteens to the Model 1878 Pattern.  The body of the canteen holds it shape on the front and the rear surfaces with no dents or other damage.  The original cork stopper and brass chain are intact and full form.   

This canteen came with this wide leather Model 1878 strap, with the brass hooks crimped over the triangular rings, indicating it is original to this canteen.  The wider strap was introduced with the Model 1878 Haversack and adopted for the canteen as well with the introduction of the 1885 Equipment, and it continued in use through the early years of the 20TH Century.  This particular sling was manufactured at Rock Island Arsenal, so marked legibly on the sling along with the inspector’s initials, after the leather color change from black to russet leather in 1902.  The strap is in very good condition - full length with no weak points, complete with both brass hooks and leather keepers, and the leather is supple with a bright shiny surface and a nice russet color.   

While these canteens were issued to the Marines from the late 1800's, the presence of the russet colored sling indicates this particular canteen was used by the Marines through the period made famous by the siege of the diplomatic compound in China as depicted in classic film “55 Days At Peking”, and in such exotic stations such as Haiti, Nicaragua, and the Philippines.     

This is a very rare United States Marine Corps Canteen and it would be a notable addition to a display or collection of late 19TH Century or early 20TH Century USMC equipment, and the excellent condition of this specimen is such that it would be impossible to upgrade.  SOLD

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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