MODEL 1906 US ARMY MESS CUP – SCARCE FIRST MODEL
US ARMY ALUMINUM CUP: Far less common than the
Models 1874, 1885, 1901, and the later Model 1908
Experimental Mess Cups, the Model 1906 Mess Cup was the
first US Army general issue mess cup made of aluminum.
To place this cup in historical perspective, a little
“cup history” might be helpful. According to Paul L.
Hedren in his well written article “Army Tin Cups on the
Western Frontier” published in the Company of Military
Historians periodical, the army experimented with
aluminum cups as early as the 1890’s and some aluminum
cups were introduced for trial as early as 1902, but due
to the heat conductivity of the metal, the cups were not
popular with the soldiers.
In 1901 the army adopted a tin plated one-piece drawn
bottom steel cup – the Model 1901 - that was the last
version of the tinned US Army cups. For all intent and
purposes, the design and form of the Model 1901 Cup was
identical to the cup pictured here except that the M1901
Cup did not incorporate the cork washers between the
handle and body of the cup as found on the aluminum 1906
This aluminum cup measures 4” high and 4” in diameter,
was press formed with the bottom integral to the sides,
has a rolled lip, and an iron handle riveted to the side
of the cup. To address the complaints from the soldiers
about the heat conductivity of the aluminum, the army
incorporated two unique features in these cups. The
handle is slotted so that the soldier could use the
tines of his fork to introduce or retrieve the cup from
the fire without burning his hands. And, the handle is
insulated from the body of the cup with cork washers to
keep the contents of the cup from heating up the
handle. Both of these features were retained in the
design of the Model 1908 Cup that would follow.
The handle is stamped “U.S.” and “R.I.A. 1907”. The
cup is full form, with a few minor dents from handling
and storage, but no holes and no cracks in the rolled
rim as is often found. The handle is full form, the
arsenal stamping is clear and legible, and both of the
cork washers are present and fully intact. The bottom
of the cup bears several hand applied initials, probably
by the soldier so he could identify this as his cup.
Appearing only in the 1917
printing of the Horse Equipments and Equipments for
Officers and Enlisted Men, this is a fairly rare cup and
it seldom appears on the market.