VIRGINIA OFFICER’S 1858 HARDEE HAT INSIGNIA

$3,795.00 SOLD
Originally $3,995.00

Quantity Available: None

Item Code: 142-62

An exceedingly rare piece of headgear insignia in excellent condition. When the wide-brimmed “Hardee” or “Jeff Davis” hat was adopted for universal wear as a dress hat in the U.S. Army in 1858, states followed suit. Virginia, like many others, modified the U.S. general staff pattern by substituting its own initials within the gilt wreath on a black oval ground. The 1858 Virginia regulations for generals and field officers, quartermasters, surgeons and paymasters specified, “a gold embroidered wreath in front, on black velvet ground, encircling the letters VA in silver old English characters.” This insignia precisely matches those regulations and, to give an idea of how rare this particular insignia is, when Frederick Todd assembled his encyclopedic, “American Military Equipage,” he could not find an example. This one comes from the well-known collection of Lewis Leigh and we are proud to offer it here.

The black velvet ground has oxidized slightly to a rich, deep blackish-brown, a color resulting from the presence of iron in the dye (a color we like to see in headgear insiginia,) and one that still beautifully sets off the gilt bullion embroidered wreath of leaves and berries, joined at the bottom by a knot, and the silver embroidered old English letters “VA.” The perimeter wire border is in place around the edge of the badge, which is a bonus, since it is often missing. The back is of standard Civil War era construction with a brown fabric base supporting the embroidery stitching from the face. The badge was intended to be sewn to a hat, rather than secured with metal loops, and has a few minor loose threads on the reverse.

This insignia was adopted in time for the great upsurge in militia activity before the war and in time for John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859. It also would have seen use throughout the war as volunteer regiments even in Confederate service jealously preserved their state identities. Civil War insignia is beautiful, historic and rare. Southern associated pieces are especially so.  [sr]

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