PHILADELPHIA MAKER MARKED EARLY WAR HOLSTER FROM THE M.O.L.L.U.S. WAR LIBRARY AND MUSEUM

$895.00 SOLD

Quantity Available: None

Item Code: 1052-13

This is a very nice condition early war holster for a Colt 1860 Army Revolver, though it would fit a Navy as well, from the collections of the MOLLUS War Library and Museum, recently dispersed at auction. Formed after the war as a veterans’ organization by Union army officers, the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States incorporated their War Library and Museum in 1888 and from 1922 it was housed in a townhouse in Philadelphia. The museum was closed in 2008 pending a move or combination with another institution. These plans unfortunately came to naught. Much of its material was placed with other museums, and the remainder was recently sold at auction. We were fortunate to acquire some very interesting objects at the sale that we are happy to offer to our customers.

This holster is an early war military pattern flap holster, technically “non-regulation” by its use of a flap with hole for the fastening stud rather than a separate latch tab, but a pattern seen in Civil War photographs. The condition is excellent, with good color and surface to the leather, just some rubbing to the belt loop where it might rub against a wearer’s uniform. The leather is soft and the seams are good and the stitching is intact. The belt loop and toe plug are in place. There is a clear “Moyer Bros” maker stamp on the flap, just above the hole for the fastening stud. The Moyer firm dates back to 1811 as saddle and harness makers in Philadelphia. By the time of the Civil War it was run by brothers William, Edward and Augustus, and obtained government contracts in 1862-63 (and perhaps at other points) for various accouterments, including shoulder and waist belts, scabbards, pistol cartridge boxes, saber belts, etc. They also advertised themselves as selling “officers’ military equipments,” saddles, bridles, valises, haversacks, and other items.

As a potentially private-purchase holster, it could date any time during the war, but two elements suggest an early date. First, the belt loop is rather narrow and is secured at the bottom by stitching alone. Second, the belt loop is slanted quite a bit, which raises the muzzle of holstered pistol. This is seen on some very early military holsters that appear to have been designed with the idea of the trooper wearing it very near the center of his back, which made it necessary for the barrel of the pistol and the holster to rest across the saddle behind him. This was changed fairly quickly to the more standard configuration allowing more vertical position for the holster, though still on the soldier’s right side and most often with the butt of the pistol forward, as here. For a parallel, though unmarked example, see Meadows, US Military Holsters (1987) p. 70, left.

This is a nice holster on its own and its provenance adds a great deal of interest. The remains of an institutional inventory number on a white base show on the reverse edge.  [sr]

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