Original U.S. Set of Three 19th Century Epaulettes -1790s-1820's Militia, 1820s-1830's Militia, and Civil War

Item Description

Original Items: One Set of Three Available. Epaulettes are a type of ornamental shoulder piece or decoration used as insignia of rank by armed forces and other organizations. Flexible metal epaulettes (usually made from brass) are referred to as shoulder scales. Their direct origin lies in the bunches of ribbons worn on the shoulders of military coats at the end of the 17th century, which were partially decorative and partially intended to prevent shoulder belts from slipping. They gradually became more ornate, particularly in France, and the ornate coiled metal design then spread throughout Europe, and began to be an indicator of higher rank, after which officers of many different types of units began to wear them.

As the United States was for the most part directly influenced by Europe, from the beginning they were utilized as part of the uniform of military commissioned officers. As time went on even NCOs were able to use minimalized examples.

This is a very nice set of three U.S. Epaulettes, which shows how they progressed over the 19th century. The smallest epaulette is for Militia officers, circa 1800 or so, and is somewhat triangular in shape. It is padded yellow on the underside, and is in very good condition. The next largest epaulette is from a Militia unit after the war of 1812, and is much closer in size to its European contemporaries.

By far the most substantial epaulette in the set is the civil war example, which is built around a brass internal frame, complete with the attachment clip and other hardware. It is marked RIGHT on the clip underneath. It does not have a branch of service color on top, as is correct for epaulettes for ranks of Major and above.

At this point epaulettes were so substantial that they were really only worn on parade occasions. Examination of Civil War period photos will find very few showing officer's wearing their epaulletes.

A very nice set, full of research potential!

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