FIFTH INFANTRY CAPTAIN’S EPAULETS AND KEPI

$3,250.00

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 1179-354

Shipping: Determined by Method & Location of buyer

To Order:
Call 717-334-0347,
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This set belonged to an unidentified officer in a 5th Infantry regiment judging from the officer’s embroidered hunting horn insignia on the front of the cap with a “5” in the loop of the horn, and the 5th Infantry embroidered circlets with deep blue ground on the epaulets. The epaulets are the regulation 1851 pattern, replaced in 1872, having solid brass crescents bordered on the outer edge by a roll of gilt dead-and-bright embroidery, gold bullion fringe, and ribbed bullion straps imitating the dead and bright bullion of the borders of the strap and crescent and the bullion fringe. There is a little rubbing at the middle of both straps showing where the rank insignia was once pinned in place. This is now missing, but the ¼” width of the fringe indicates the officer was a Captain. The circlets are firmly held in place by pins, as is correct.

The cap is a low-crowned officer’s cap with inset crown, making it a kepi rather than forage cap, rising to about 2 ½ inches on the center front. The brim is flat with a bound edge. The chinstrap is about 3/8” wide, secured at either side by a small Eagle-I button and adjusting by a standing loop fixed friction buckle. The interior has a thin, red Morocco sweatband of good height, about 1 ¾” tall, and black silk lining with open drawstring top that shows the embossed “Bent & Bush / BOSTON” address on the black leatherette stiffener of the crown.

The cap shows excellent color and very good fabric, with no moth damage, tight seams, with the visor and chinstrap firmly in place, with just the inside showing use. The sweatband is largely in place, but shows stains and chipping to the lower edge on the wearer’s left and the back, where it has pulled away from the stitching. The black silk lining is fully intact and in place, with no holes, but shows rubbing and some staining. The underside of the top shows some wear as well, with one small chip to the black finish and a small bit of abrasion on the right of the “t” and the ampersand in the top line of the logo and the upper portion of the “OS” in the lower line. The embroidered hunting horn insignia is very good, about 2 ¼” wide and 1 1/2” tall, the appropriate size for a kepi, with no moth damage, nice color to the deep blue ground, gilt finish on the bullion and jaceron wire border and silver on the embroidered “5.”

The epaulets have bright gilt on the jaceron wire and the fringe with the heavy bullion straps slightly subdued and the brass crescents showing patinaed brass where the gilt finish has been rubbed, but not the contrast is not strong. The embroidered borders and numerals of the circlets show oxidation toward gray: the borders tended to be silver, however, and the just the numerals gold. One shows some rubbing to the blue velvet ground and a 1 1/2” piece panel of the red leather bottom lining of the strap missing, as is the outer jaceron wire border on the top side of the strap portion, but the red silk lining of the shoulder is still in place. On the other epaulet the outer jaceron wire border of the strap on one side has sprung and stretched, but is still there and might be neatened or trimmed and tacked back in place. The blue ground of the circlet shows good color and no rubbing. The red leather and silk on the underside are very good.

Both epaulets were fastened by flat spring hooks that passed through loops on the shoulder opening and closing at the end of the strap by a stud on top in the form of a small eagle button. The missing leather panel on the underside of the one epaulet has exposed a crown and wreath maker’s stamp indicating these were imported, which is not unusual. The other one likely has the same mark concealed. Interestingly both straps are marked “left” on the underside, which indicates the officer had two sets or it simply did not matter much in the fitting. These may have been acquired at Bent & Bush as well, or from them: the company advertised widely- literally from Maine to Kansas in the Civil War (we show a December 1862 ad from a Kansas paper,) and perhaps even further afield. Though known largely for their headgear, they dealt in a variety of military goods as “importers, manufacturers, and dealers,” advertising not only caps, but swords, sashes, epaulets, etc. Composed initially of Charles Bent and Francis Bush, who advertised the company dated back to 1823 in Lowell, Mass., the company moved to Boston about 1849 when they took over an existing hat business. The firm did private business in the civilian and military market, but also had government military contracts during and after the Civil War, supplying the army and the marine corps, and continued under the same name well into the twentieth century, only dissolving in 1933.

This set displays very nicely and was once at the Texas Civil War Museum.  [SR][ph:L]

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