SMITH PATENT CAVALRY SECOND LIEUTENANT SHOULDER STRAPS

$500.00

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 2023-3252

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This is a very good condition set of Smith patent shoulder straps for a second lieutenant of cavalry, showing strong color to the yellow ground and good gilt left on the brass frame border, stamped to imitate alternating dead and bright bullion embroidery. James A. Smith, the well-established New York military goods dealer, patented his false-embroidered  shoulder straps on June 18, 1861, asserting they would be, “cheaper, more durable, capable of becoming renovated by wear [by which he presumably means the wear might do away with a gilt finish, but would brighten the underlying brass,] and which can be quickly made in large numbers . . .” These featured stamped brass false embroidered frames and rank insignia mounted on a cloth base of appropriate branch of service color. They proved popular in the wartime and postwar army. The deeper yellow color of the ground suggests this pair were worn by an officer in the cavalry of the Indian Wars when the cavalry yellow went from a lighter to a darker tone in the 1880s.

These are in very good condition, showing a small stain to the edge of one strap and slight denting to the edge of the other, but nice gilt, very evident alternating dead and bright false bullion strands, and strong yellow color. The backs are sewn closed. The edges of the blue cloth base show some minor wear and loose thread at the corners indicating they were on an officer’s coat or jacket one time. Officers often wanted to omit insignia in the field to avoid being singled out, but Sherman as General of the Army was firmly for it on all uniforms. Three troops of the 7th Cavalry were roughly handled at the Bear Paw Mountains in 1877, one officer proclaiming, “I’m the only damned man of the Seventh Cavalry wearing shoulder straps who’s alive.” See Howard Lanham’s excellent book “Straps” (which has this great quotation) for details. These would make a great addition to a cavalry collection.  [sr] [ph:m/L]

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