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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 Cups.   

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.  SOLD 



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