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Any real Revolutionary Uniforms?


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#1 stratasfan

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Posted 15 February 2017 - 11:57 AM

Hi, All! This has been something I've been wanting to post for ages now! Ten or twelve years ago, we went to our local, weekly auction house (which we went to most weeks), and the large consignment was from a living history museum. Don't know from when or where it was, but everything was marked with little printed cards that explained what it was and when it was from. they had everything from old wooden trunks and chests, to medicine bottles, to uniforms. It was the uniforms that struck me as cool. This was before I really got into militaria, but I was already super interested in the history, so it was like a hands-on living history museum! (This auction house is the open type of cement-block building, where it is often out buildings and attics emptied. No guards, you just get to handle everything, which is mostly just in lots in boxes or piled on tables.) We were there for ages!

 

Mom was excited to see the Civil War uniform pieces, as she had been researching her GGGGrandfather, who served in the OVI. They had WWI and WWII uniforms as well. However . . . the thing that we spent the most time with and still talk about was a uniform jacket that looked like Revolutionary War. We looked at it and held it, and Mom was inspecting the sewing on the inside and out, as it was so cheaply made! The seams weren't all hemmed. Mom was positive it was a costume, but the wool fabric was nothing you could buy in our lifetime and probably in our Gramma's lifetime! I remember it was in an old wooden box/trunk with something else that we figured was with it, however, it was the jacket we really paid attention to.

 

There were so many dealers from Columbus and Cleveland, we've rarely seen it that full! In the end, it got $770 for the jacket. It was the most amazing thing! No holes, no rips or stains. The most amazing top-quality fabric, even if the sewing was so  . . . 2nd-gradish. Sarah and I were positive that it was real, as there were some real military dealers we knew by sight and they were all going for it. Obviously someone knew. It was one of those things that you never forget. So fun to be able to see it up close and actually hold it. Wish we'd taken a camera.

 

So . . . I was wondering if anyone has any Revolutionary War uniform pieces that they would post pictures of? I so enjoyed looking at the post about the sword and the chest. I love the Revolutionary War era, and don't often get to see the real things! So, would love it if anyone has any uniform pieces to post pics of! :)



#2 VMI88

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Posted 15 February 2017 - 12:18 PM

It's most likely the uniform you saw was a theatrical costume or possibly a 19th Century militia uniform made in the style of a Revolutionary War uniform.  The fact that the sewing was poorly done makes me lean toward theatrical.  I'm sure there are existing American Revolutionary War uniforms but they would be exceedingly rare.  The only one I've seen is General Washington's coat in the Smithsonian, and they actually believe that was a uniform he wore as president rather than as a general.

 

Interestingly, there's a British regimental museum (I forget which one, but it's right next to Buckingham Palace) that has a British officers uniform that was worn in America during the Revolution!



#3 gwb123

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Posted 15 February 2017 - 12:30 PM

It's most likely the uniform you saw was a theatrical costume or possibly a 19th Century militia uniform made in the style of a Revolutionary War uniform.  The fact that the sewing was poorly done makes me lean toward theatrical.  I'm sure there are existing American Revolutionary War uniforms but they would be exceedingly rare.  The only one I've seen is General Washington's coat in the Smithsonian, and they actually believe that was a uniform he wore as president rather than as a general.

 

Interestingly, there's a British regimental museum (I forget which one, but it's right next to Buckingham Palace) that has a British officers uniform that was worn in America during the Revolution!

 

I agree with this conclusion.  The poor sewing suggests it is a costume.  In addition to the theater, there have been Revolutionary War commemorative events ever since the 1820's where such uniforms were created.

 

I believe uniforms dating that far back, and if they had seen actual use, would be becoming more fragile by the year.  Cloth that old needs conservation and proper storage.  Even vintabe Civil War uniforms are at a stage where they have to be handled properly.

 

Even in museums, a lot of what you see are reproductions.



#4 vonrall

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Posted 16 February 2017 - 08:40 PM

Hi, All! This has been something I've been wanting to post for ages now! Ten or twelve years ago, we went to our local, weekly auction house (which we went to most weeks), and the large consignment was from a living history museum. Don't know from when or where it was, but everything was marked with little printed cards that explained what it was and when it was from. they had everything from old wooden trunks and chests, to medicine bottles, to uniforms. It was the uniforms that struck me as cool. This was before I really got into militaria, but I was already super interested in the history, so it was like a hands-on living history museum! (This auction house is the open type of cement-block building, where it is often out buildings and attics emptied. No guards, you just get to handle everything, which is mostly just in lots in boxes or piled on tables.) We were there for ages!

 

Mom was excited to see the Civil War uniform pieces, as she had been researching her GGGGrandfather, who served in the OVI. They had WWI and WWII uniforms as well. However . . . the thing that we spent the most time with and still talk about was a uniform jacket that looked like Revolutionary War. We looked at it and held it, and Mom was inspecting the sewing on the inside and out, as it was so cheaply made! The seams weren't all hemmed. Mom was positive it was a costume, but the wool fabric was nothing you could buy in our lifetime and probably in our Gramma's lifetime! I remember it was in an old wooden box/trunk with something else that we figured was with it, however, it was the jacket we really paid attention to.

 

There were so many dealers from Columbus and Cleveland, we've rarely seen it that full! In the end, it got $770 for the jacket. It was the most amazing thing! No holes, no rips or stains. The most amazing top-quality fabric, even if the sewing was so  . . . 2nd-gradish. Sarah and I were positive that it was real, as there were some real military dealers we knew by sight and they were all going for it. Obviously someone knew. It was one of those things that you never forget. So fun to be able to see it up close and actually hold it. Wish we'd taken a camera.

 

So . . . I was wondering if anyone has any Revolutionary War uniform pieces that they would post pictures of? I so enjoyed looking at the post about the sword and the chest. I love the Revolutionary War era, and don't often get to see the real things! So, would love it if anyone has any uniform pieces to post pics of! :)

There are VERY few surviving revolutionary war American coats. Offhand, one in the Maryland historical society , one in a private collection , one in a Charleston museum , one at the Smithsonian (not the Washington coat , that's 1790s) . I know of three Loyalist coats , 2 in Canada and one at Connecticut Historical society. There are several British coats of the period as well. 



#5 suwanneetrader

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Posted 16 February 2017 - 09:35 PM

About mid 1960 in Cincinnati Ohio Beck Costumes went out of business If I remember it was a large 3 or 4 story structure.  Tom Kerr and I along with a few others had been shooting and selling items at Friendship Indiana (home of the NMLRA) and participating in Re-enactments since the start of the CW Centennial.  A friend of Toms (Oscar Brewer I think) went in the store looking any items for sale and Mr Beck (the then old son of the founder who had gone to Govt surplus sales with Bannerman and the likes told Oscar he was too old and had never sold anything before but had decided to sell out and retire.  He took Oscar to the 2nd floor and there as a pile head high of old guns.  Oscar was not a gun person so when he picked up a Colt Revolving musket the cylinder fell out on the floor (we found this out later) but Oscar said he did not want that one as it was broken.  He did buy a Colt CW musket at a very low price.   In the next few months due to people stealing when Mr Beck let them wander thru the building no  one except Kerr, and his brother in law and I were the only people allowed to dig thru and wander.  Part of one floor was a large commercial sewing shop.  Where they might have one or two original Confederate uniforms from which they would make 50 for a Hollywood movie etc.  I remember a big wooden barrel full of brass buttons.  They might rent out a WWI uniform and it would come back with a couple of buttons gone and the ladies would just reach in the barrel and any brass button the same size would be sewn on CW, Police etc it made no difference.  The best thing I got was a Cook & Bros. Naval Cutlass and an original CW Union Generals overcoat.  I apologise for wandering but to get back to topic he had dozens and dozens of costumes made in 1876 for the 100th anniversary of the Amer Rev.  as there were plays and parades all over the country in celebration.  My oldest son who was 8 or 9 wore one of the 1876 Drummerboy coats at some CW re-enactments and living history.  He still has it with some of his blood on it from when he was hit by a car wearing it playing war with other kids and ran across the street in front of our house.   I think I still have a large pattern book for sewing Male, female and children clothing in the Rev War style that came out of the sewing shop.


Edited by suwanneetrader, 16 February 2017 - 09:37 PM.


#6 The Iron Brigade

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Posted 16 February 2017 - 10:25 PM

Continental army uniform coat worn by Colonel Peter Gansevoort Jr. of the 3rd Regiment of the New York Continental Line. He wore this coat during his command of Fort Stanwix, New York, in 1777. Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution.

7640d3d07c3bdf6e12fd2a6d44521817.jpg

#7 BEAST

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Posted 17 February 2017 - 05:26 AM

If I remember correctly, there are only a few original US uniforms known and they are all officer's.

Do you remember if it had a waist seam in the back? Not the vertical back seam, but a horizontal seam?

#8 mikie

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Posted 17 February 2017 - 09:19 AM

Continental army uniform coat worn by Colonel Peter Gansevoort Jr. of the 3rd Regiment of the New York Continental Line. He wore this coat during his command of Fort Stanwix, New York, in 1777. Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution.

attachicon.gif7640d3d07c3bdf6e12fd2a6d44521817.jpg

Wow!  Tht's amazing.  I grew up about 15 miles from fort Stanwix and had no idea his uniform still existed!  I've been out of the area for 35 years but have been getting into my former local history again lately. Thanks for posting it!

Mikie



#9 ocsfollowme

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Posted 17 February 2017 - 09:35 AM

http://americanhisto...ect/nmah_434863

 

George Washingtons uniform (I am sure one of many that he had). 



#10 stratasfan

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Posted 19 February 2017 - 07:12 AM

Thanks to all! I got all the notifications at once, so was thrilled! Appreciate the info and the pictures. That is so cool that some do exist. Also, suwaneetrader . . . cool story and thanks for sharing! Really interesting! I appreciate all the input and the picture of the one coat is amazing! Do you know if it is on display at the Smithsonian?



#11 Eric Queen

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Posted 19 February 2017 - 08:17 AM

(most likely) an actor wearing revolutionary war uniform (costume) in late 19th century photograph. 

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#12 suwanneetrader

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Posted 20 February 2017 - 08:38 PM

I found a copy of a neighborhood 1960s newspaper We are all wearing 1860 thru 1876 made items from Becks.  Sorry photo of newspaper photo not better I made it before I had a scanner.  Richard

 

Richard Kerr Boys Rickie L 4-64 Real Uniforms.jpg



#13 dunmore1774

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 03:10 PM

Looks like the Rev war soldier in the pic is holding a M1863 Springfield?   just a little out of date :)



#14 GITom1944

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Posted 31 December 2017 - 06:17 PM


(most likely) an actor wearing revolutionary war uniform (costume) in late 19th century photograph.

 

 

I know this is an old thread but I thought I'd mention that the fella in the picture might be a member of a ceremonial military unit. One of these, the Putnam Phalanx, was founded in 1858. They were not a true military organization - more like a fife and drum corps without the fife and drums. Their uniforms were said to have been modelled after Gen Washington's Revolutionary War uniform. The Putnam Phalanx itself continued to exist through the end of the last century. Its members periodically went on "excursions" to places in the U.S. and later, in Europe. Here is a photo of the unit during a trip to Louisville, KY in 1895.

 

Putnam Phalanx 1895 s.jpg

 

Tom



#15 Josh B.

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Posted 24 June 2019 - 07:19 AM

Any other news on Rev War era surviving uniforms?  I know of a documented French and Indian uniform coat in private hands in New Hampshire. The sewing is exquisite and must have taken forever to construct. 


Edited by Josh B., 24 June 2019 - 07:20 AM.



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