Original U.S. Immediate Post-Civil War Era New York State Cavalry Shell Jacket Converted To Tailcoat

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. Original Item: Only One Available. This is a fantastic example of a late Civil War to Immediate Post War Cavalry Shell Jacket that was worn by a member of the New York State Cavalry. The shell jacket is interesting in the aspect that it was converted to a more eye-catching tailcoat, more than likely for parade and ceremonial purposes.

The shell jacket became regulation for the US army in 1833, replacing the Napoleonic-era blue tailcoat. Infantry jackets were sky blue with white piping and silver buttons. Cavalry uniforms were navy blue with orange (later yellow) piping and artillery uniforms were identical but with red piping; they had brass rather than silver buttons. The infantry uniform was worn during the Mexican War until 1851 when it was replaced with the dark blue frock coat with sky blue piping. Trousers with a fly front replaced the older-style flap-front design and kepis and Hardee hats replaced the M1839 wheel cap. Cavalry and artillery shell jackets remained in use until after the American Civil War as they were more practical for mounted troops than the long frock (which was briefly introduced in 1851 but rejected).

The jacket itself is in wonderful condition for being almost 160 years old! Garment is constructed of fine wool material dyed a deep indigo blue with the blue color still strong. Cloth body exhibits scattered moth nips and holes, common in these wool garments but nothing that shows any extensive damage. Jacket features a cuff style collar, approximately 3” tall with 1/2” wide, cavalry-yellow piping or lacing decorating the edges, collar is adorned with two, cuff size, New York “Excelsior” brass buttons set back on each side. Both buttons are offset by additional short strips of yellow wrapped around. Collar braid is bright, tight, and free of any seam separations at the center outside or inside seam as normally seen.

Jacket front reflects 9-button closure with 7, original brass eagle ‘Excelsior’ buttons securely sewn to the flap edge, 2 are missing. The CLOSURE buttons are marked on the back with:


The other buttons are marked: EXTRA QUALITY.

The buttonholes show light wear. Both sleeve cuffs do not have closure buttons but do have 3 vertical cuff sized buttons on the lower sleeve on both sides inside of diamonds. The added tailcoat has decorative buttons on the reverse with 5 of the original 10 present. There is a button on the tail that is not original to the uniform and is for the Philadelphia Police which was more than likely added for display purposes.

Interior blue wool body of this uniform jacket is in excellent condition as is the lining. The lower coat tail has a striped gray polished cotton lining which does have a few tears present. The only markings that can be found is a faint number 63 stamped in black.

A wonderful, early Cavalry shell jacket that comes more than ready for further research and display.

Approximate Measurements
Collar to shoulder: 10"
Shoulder to sleeve: 25”
Shoulder to shoulder: 17.5”
Chest width: 18”
Waist width: 16"
Hip width: 16”
Front length: 23.5"

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