SCARCE PAIR OF ELEGANT CIVIL WAR OFFICER’S BRASS EAGLEHEAD BOX-TYPE SPURS

$2,500.00

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 1179-487

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A very nice pair of English-made spurs imported for the American market combining the scarce military eagle-head form of spur with a just as scarce patented “box-type” fastening system. The system got its nickname from using a small box inlet into the back of a boot heel that would accept a spring-catch or “key” extending from the inside of the heel of the spur. This let the wearer remove them more easily for storage or just out of courtesy when entering a dwelling. They were still provided with sidebars, not for spur straps, but to stabilize them.

When found, these are usually plain in style, as illustrated by Schuyler, Hartley and Graham, for example. In this case the maker used the system on an eagle head pattern likely aimed at the American market, with the tips of the sidebars incised with lines to imitate wing feathers, behind which raised, cast and chased smaller neck feathers extend back around the heel and up the neck of the spur to the eagle’s head, which shows well delineated eyes, “lores,” and beak with ridges, as well as a short crest on the eagle’s head. A steel rowel is fixed in the beak, having many small rays and points creating a bright, silvery sunburst with just a few tiny dark spots contrasting nicely with the bright brass eagle. These were expensive pieces at the time and often sold by high-end military goods dealers in lined, presentation/storage boxes. This pair bear the maker’s name on the key, “Sheldon,” who is likely Catherine Sheldon, listed in an 1861 Birmingham directory as a “spur manufacturer, 9, St. George’s place, Great Hampton street.”

The spurs are in very good condition and come from the Texas Civil War Museum. Small modern labels inside them read “Gorton / #26.” We don’t know the significance of the name, but if it is an officer’s identification noted by the museum, only a few officers come up in a cursory search, with George O. Gorton of the 3rd RI Heavy Artillery as the main candidate: he was a lieutenant and captain, but spent time as an adjutant, which would have placed him on horseback as staff officer. This is a great, very showy, pair of Civil War officer’s spurs in any case. [sr] [ph:m]

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