Original U.S. Indian Wars Model 1889 Black Campaign Hat by Conqueror

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. Black Fur felt with grosgrain ribbon hatband, has three rows of brim stitching indicating a classic Model 1889 specimen. This black felt hat became symbolic of the Army on the western frontier and today is one of the most highly prized pieces of military headgear. It has a brim measuring approx 3 wide. The crown measures approx 5″ high. This hat comes complete with a model 1889 Gold Cavalry officer hat cord complete with acorns.
Left side of hat bears a red circular cloth insignia. Interior has a 2 inch wide leather sweatband embossed:


Original paper size label still present. Condition overall is very good. An incredibly rare hard to find hat from the Western Frontier!


Below is an excerpt from:


United States Army Headgear 1855-1902
Catalog of United States Army Uniforms in the Collections of the Smithsonian Institution, II
by Edgar M. Howell

In 1889 the rows of stitching on the brim increased from two to three and the "wire gauze" ventilator was re- placed by a number of small holes punched in the sides and arranged in design as on the "standard sample". In 1895 the weight of the hat was dropped from 4 3/4 to 3 3/4 ounces and in 1897 the upper edge of the sweat band was turned over 1/4 inch and cemented and a narrow strip of oiled silk about I/2 inch wide was welted in between the sweat band and the body of the hat.

The advent of the war with Spain brought some renewed attempts to increase the ventilation in the hat. In June 1899 the Philadelphia Depot was directed to procure 1000 hats with corrugated wire side ventilators similar to those abandoned in 1889, and corrugated insertions under the sweat bands, 500 of leather and 600 paper mache, to be sent to Cuba for trial. Specifications for these were issued as an addition to, not as a substitute for, those for the standard then in use. An unspecified portion of the trial hats were to have the edge of the brim turned under and secured with three rows of stitching, the remainder merely to have the edge of the brim stitched like the standard model. Then in December 1900, Horstmann & Co. submitted to the Philadelphia Depot a sample hat with a corrugated sweat band insert made of aluminum. As the leather and papier mache inserts had not proved to retain their stiffness, the Quartermaster General authorized the procurement of 2000 trial hats, 1000 to have inserts of aluminum and 1000 inserts of celluloid. These were to be secured by nonrustable wire; as in the 1899 trial models they were to have wire side ventilators and the edges of the brims were to be turned over and stitched or merely stitched. All were to be sent to Manila and Cuba for trial. During the fiscal year 1900, more than 350,000 of these models with the sweat band inserts were purchased. Both the wire side ventilators and the corrugated sweat band inserts were dropped in the 1904 specifications.

Of the examples examined, none conformed to the 1883 specifications, that is, having the wire gauze side ventilators and two rows of stitching on the edge of the brim. Others followed closely the 1889-1895 and 1899 specifications. Of those following the latter, all examined had sweat band inserts of papier mache rather than leather and had the brim merely stitched rather than turned over, and none examined had the aluminum and/or celluloid inserts called for in 1900. All carried the contractor's name and date of contract. The officers' models examined all generally followed the various specifications, but were of a far superior quality.

Although nothing specific was said about the hat cords for either the 1876 black or the 1883 drab models until 1887, they were issued in fair numbers throughout the entire period and presumably worn. In 1887 a gratuitous issue of one cord with each hat issued was authorized, to be continued until old stocks were exhausted. Issue continued until the outbreak of war when procurement in large numbers was initiated.

Although the old and new model cords were of the same length and were worn in the same manner, they differed radically in method of construction and terminals. While the 1858 cord was made of four strands twisted with tassels at either end, the 1899 cord was braided of 16 strands and carried acorn terminals like the 1855 cavalry model and the

Civil War period officers' models. Colors prescribed were: Post quartermaster sergeant, buff; post commissary sergeant, gray; Hospital Corps, green; Engineer Corps, Scarlett and white, with alternate stripe running lengthwise; Ordnance, crimson; Signal Corps, black; Cavalry, yellow; Artillery, Scarlett; Infantry, blue. This infantry blue was soon changed to white and in 1902 the Hospital Corps changed from green to maroon and white with alternate stripes running lengthwise. Ordnance from crimson to red and black, again with alternate stripes running lengthwise, Signal Corps from black to orange and white with alternate lengthwise stripes, and Infantry from blue to light blue. Officers' cords were to be of gold for general officers and of gold and black silk intermixed for others. For organizational identification of enlisted men in 1899, the letter of the company and the number of the regiment were prescribed for wear on the hat. In the case of engineer troops the letter of the company only was to be worn.

Reaction to the drab model was generally positive over the years, and the fact that it was continued from its inception until the early years of World War II with only an alteration in the shape of the crown bears mute evidence of its utility.
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