1840s ARMED MILITIA MAN WITH COCKADE AND “JG” HAT INSIGNIA

$950.00

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Item Code: 1138-1929

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This sixth plate daguerreotype dates to the early or mid-1840s, having a simple octagonal mat and glass with no frame or “preserver.” It is also housed in simple leatherette cast with embossed floral and geometric designs on the exterior of the lid only and with a plain silk facing pad. The image shows a tad light, but the subject is a young, clean shaven militia soldier posed against a plain background and shown standing, from about mid-thigh up, resting one hand with elbow bent on the viewer’s left and the other at his side next to an eagle-pommel officer’s sword.

He wears a version of the 1839 forage cap with stiffened crown and lighter colored band around its base. The letters “JG” are clearly visible in a circular wreath on the front of the cap. His uniform is a dark overshirt, left unbuttoned to reveal a high-collar white shirt and knotted tie with a chain tie-clasp. He wears a sash that partly hides his waist belt, but shows the upper half a wide two-piece interlocking buckle with scalloped edges that was popular among militia starting about 1845 (O’Donnell and Campbell, plate 328 and others.) The same form of belt plate could be used by fire companies and others, but the sword makes it clear we are looking a militia member. He also wears a prominent cockade with ribbons on his chest. Likely, he has stepped into the photographer’s studio from a community celebration of some kind, perhaps the Fourth of July or other occasion when local militia companies would parade.

The sword is typical of militia swords popular in the 1830s, but carried for a time thereafter, with a simple bone grip, but gilt brass eagle pommel and reverse-P knuckleguard. The photographer has delicately tinted the belt plate, hilt and scabbard gold, indicating the latter are gilt brass. He has lightly touched the hat band and insignia, but obscured no details. The plate shows one small raised bump at the lower left edge, just touching his elbow, and some light scratches, the worst of which, at right, are not near the figure.

The letters “J.G.” on the cap are clear and unambiguous. One immediately thinks of the “Junior Guard” of Williamsburg, Virginia, but that company was formed much later than the image and other units of that name or those initials were certainly out there. This does, however, come from the collection of the late Bill Turner and likely has a Virginia origin.  [sr] [ph:m]

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