ARMED MILITIA RIFLE OR LIGHT INFANTRY MEMBER OF THE “ELEGANT ELITE"

$1,350.00

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 766-1536

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This sixth-plate daguerreotype dates about 1850-55 and shows a member of an American militia company uniformed as light infantry or riflemen, though he is posed holding what is clearly a typical U.S. musket with barrel bands. On the table beside him some books on the table cloth next to his shako, bearing a plume of red feathers on top and white below. The front of the cap shows a large “BG” colored silver by the photographer, surrounded by an open-topped, lightly gilt wreath. The leather visor and top edge of the cap show clearly, as do the hat cords with paddles. The shako shows the French and British influence of the period, abandoning the bell crown form, becoming somewhat shorter, somewhat like the contemporary British army Albert shako or, even more, like the yeoman style cap of the U.S. regiment of riflemen in the War of 1812.

His coat has three rows of buttons down the front, connected by double bands of tape and he wears a round, interlocking belt buckle, lightly gilt, on a black leather belt. Some of the buttons have been lightly gilt as well. Eight show in each row, but a ninth might be hidden by the belt. His cuffs have one band around them and three inverted chevrons above. His tall collar is taped on the front edge and top. His collar insignia seems to be a looped hunting horn suspended by cords, a version of the infantry insignia used on the M1832 shako (adjusted in 1833 and published in 1834.) These started out as open horns suspended by cords, reminiscent of some War of 1812 rifle insignia, but quickly morphed into suspended looped horns that are even seen on the tails of officer’s coats. They appear as a collar ornament, as here, on militia uniforms, most notably the Washington Light Infantry of Charleston just before the Civil War.

Our man wears the raised, rolled fur (?) shoulder wings seen on British light infantry uniforms (and some American uniforms) in the early 1800s and the photographer has very thinly tinted them green, the characteristic branch of service color for riflemen. In contrast to the jackets and tail coats of that period, however, his jacket extends squarely down the front and both front and bottom edge are fringed in the manner of a hunting shirt, another uniform common to American riflemen. The fringe may also have been tinted. His trousers have a broad stripe. He wears a white glove on the hand holding the musket. He holds the other on his thigh.

The image is very clear, the tinting is thin and well done, and the plate shows only minor spots and stains, the only significant one just touching his upswept hair on the right. The plate is matted, glassed, and framed in leatherette case with the facing pad in place, but the hinge separated. This is a very strong image from the era of the “elegant elite” uniformed militia and some research might turn up a company with the initials “B.G.” that fits the uniform.  [sr] [ph:L]

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