RARE WASHINGTON ARSENAL 1857 DATED ARTILLERY TUBE POUCH

$3,950.00 ON HOLD

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 490-3648

This artillery tube pouch bears a wonderful arsenal stamp at top center of the outer flap consisting of “U.S. / WASHINGTON / ARSENAL” with the first two lines in an arc over a dynamic U.S. eagle and the word “arsenal” in a straight line underneath. To the left of this is stamped “FABRICATED” and to the right, “1857.” The box is made of brown leather, with inner flap with side ears and outer flap. The body of the box is about 8 ½ inches wide and 6 inches tall, from bottom to upper edge of the front. Along that upper edge of the box itself is another stamp, reading “J.P. HALL.”  The outer flap when closed measures about 10 5/8 inches wide and 8 inches from the top to bottom. It is fastened by a latch tab sewn inside the front cover that fastens on to a pointed brass finial on the bottom of the box. In contrast to typical Civil War era tube pouches, the body does not taper downwards, but has straight edges and a flat bottom about 2 inches front to back. The reverse is fitted with two belt loops that would accommodate a belt 1 3/8 inches wide, the width of a typical gunner’s belt (1.37 inches in 1862.) Tube pouches were intended to hold the lanyard, friction primers, gimlet and priming wire. This box differs also from typical Civil War tube pouches in having a strip of leather sewn across the underside of the flap along its upper curve that forms tubes, or sleeves, for those last two tools.

This box was published in the Military Collector and Historian (Spring 1988) 40.`1, and was postulated as possibly for use with seacoast artillery pieces, largely because it seemed large for the narrow belt. We note, however, that although the 1862 Ordnance Manual specifies a tube pouch that narrows toward the bottom, it also notes that the gimlet and priming wire might be carried “in the loops, attached by a twine,” presumably referring to the belt loops, “or in small loops on the inside of the flap,” which describes this arrangement. We do not know of further information on this box, but it seems also possible this was a sample made for trial of a new pattern or was simply a variation not intended for a specific artillery piece. To our knowledge, “J.P. Hall” has not been identified, but he is likely an inspector at the arsenal or perhaps the leather worker.

In any case, this is certainly a scarce pattern of artillery tube pouch and one made at a U.S. government arsenal. The condition is excellent, with nice color and finish showing just minor rubs and handling marks. Established at the confluence of the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers, the first building of the Washington arsenal was erected about 1803 and the arsenal remained in operation until 1881 producing munitions and acting as a final assembly and distribution point for artillery and other ordnance, particularly for the southern portion of the country. It was expanded in 1857 and was especially active during the Civil War. This would make an interesting addition to an artillery collection.  [sr] [ph:m]

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