RARE MAINE VOLUNTEER MILITIA CARTRIDGE BOX PLATE FROM THE MOLLUS COLLECTION

$975.00 ON HOLD

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 1052-24

This VMM cartridge box plate comes from the recently dispersed collections of the War Library and Museum of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion, the veterans’ organization composed of Union officers. Formed in 1865, it hit its height around 1900 with some 8,000 members: former Union officers, lineal descendants, and a few honorary members. They incorporated their library and museum in 1888 and from 1922 it was housed in a townhouse in Philadelphia. The building closed to the public in 2008. Efforts to unite with another institution failed. Some of it holdings went to other museums and the remainder was recently sold at auction. We are proud to offer a few pieces from that wonderful collection.

Maine issued two forms of cartridge box plate following the U.S. pattern, but with the raised letters V.M.M. for Volunteer Militia of Maine, instead of U.S. These came with standard iron loops on the reverse for attachment to the box flap with a thong, and are thought to have been issued to Maine’s first ten infantry regiments. They show up both with and without a lead filling on the reverse. See O’Donnell and Campbell, Plate 558 and 559 for the two types.

This has a nice, even, aged brass patina to the face with well defined letters. Two very minor dings show on the upper and lower rim at right. The reverse shows an even brown with a touch or two of green. The iron wire long ago rusted away but the points at which it was soldered at left and right on the reverse show gray soldier and some rusted iron. None of this is visible on the front of the plate, however, and there are no bends or tears to the brass. It has the look of an early battlefield pick-up but could well have come off a cartridge box flap that was simply damp enough to rust the wire over time. A small inventory number appears on the lower back. These were usually done in ink on white-out and sealed with some nail polish. We have not tried to remove it as it is unobtrusive and a nice indication of its provenance from a very famous collection. This would be a great addition to a collection of Maine artifacts and is the scarcer of the two cartridge box plates issued.  [sr]

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