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Chief Petty Officer cap device 1893-1897


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I have collected Chief Petty Officer combination cover anchors for a few years now. I've seen these 1893-1897 devices go for quite a bit of money on ebay and finally acquired one of my own. I've contacted the Naval History and Heritage Command for any information they have on this device and received the response pasted below.

 

There is a wealth of knowledge on this website, has anyone out there done any research on this device? If so, any information would be greatly appreciated.

 

Pictures of Sailors wearing these devices would be great too.

 

R/ Ben

 

Naval History and Heritage Command response:

Dear Sir,

 

Thank you for contacting the Naval History and Heritage Command regarding the interesting artifact in your possession.

 

Unfortunately, we have not uncovered any additional information regarding cap devices such as these. The information you already know from the 1886 and 1897 Uniform Regulations is all that we have to reference.

 

As you know the 1886 Regs show an image similar to your photograph but the image has 12 stars surrounding the eagle. The 1897 Regs show 13 stars surrounding the eagle. And finally, your artifact only has 11 stars surrounding the eagle. This could have been a deliberate change or it could have simply resulted in manufacturers spacing the stars differently when they made the item. We have no way of knowing this at this time without further information.

 

Further confusing matters is the 1897 Regs they call for CPO hats to have the "letters U.S.N. in silver upon a gilt foul anchor" even while they show images of the hat with a device similar to yours.

 

We are sorry to not be of more assistance in your search for information.

 

Very respectfully,

 

----------------------------------

Naval History and Heritage Command

Museum Specialist

805 Kidder Breese Street S.E.

Washington Navy Yard

Washington, D.C. 20374

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I can be of no help to you because I just learned from your great thread that these even existed! Personally, had I seen one I would have just assumed it to be a odd variation of an overcoat or strange cloak fastener. Thanks for sharing with us, this is something I had no idea even existed!

 

Dave

Only a weak society needs government protection or intervention before it pursues its resolve to preserve the truth. Truth needs neither handcuffs nor a badge for its vindication. -Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy

Peace is not the absence of war, but the defense of hard-won freedom. -Anton LaGuardia


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Wow...that is a fantastic piece of navy history. I am only coming to this thread to learn and that is exactly what I am doing...you have enlightened me!

 

Thank you for starting this thread. I am hoping for more contributions to further the discussion and provide the details you seek!

I do not profess to be a militaria expert, but I conduct as much research as I am capable of and then write about my findings.
Check out my blogs, The Veteran's Collection (general militaria) and Chevrons and Diamonds (military baseball)

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I've attached the plates from the 1886 uniform regulation.

 

The 1886 regulation calls for First Class Petty Officers to wear the device.

(device, Plate VII, Fig 3) - refers to the device in question.

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and 1897 Uniform regulations.

 

The 1897 regulations state "The device shall be the letters U. S. N. in silver upon a gilt foul anchor." The problem is that the plate still shows the device in question. I'm looking for some kind of documentation that came out between 1893 and 1897 stating that the Chief Petty Officers were authorized to wear the device...my search has been unsuccessful thus far.

 

 

 

 

 

SPECIAL REGULATIONS.

BLUE CAP.

(a) For chief petty officers, except band masters (Pl. 1, fig. 1, except device).—Dark navy-blue cloth, band of lustrous black mohair; visor of black patent leather, bound with same, green underneath; chin strap of black patent leather one-half (1/2) inch wide, fastened at the side with two small gilt navy buttons, and provided with one gilt and one leather slide. There shall be two small eyelet ventilating holes in each side of the quarters. The device shall be the letters U. S. N. in silver upon a gilt foul anchor.

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USS Boston (1887-1946) Members of the Master-at-Arms' mess (Navy First Class Petty Officers and a Marine Corps Sergeant) posed on deck, 1888. This is five years before the Chief Petty Officer rate came into existence....yes, I know I've made 99% of the comments on my own post but this stuff fascinates me....and they're wearing the device...I'm looking for one of these caps too...

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I love the photo - I believe that this one is in the book, American Steel Navy by John Alden.

 

I've read/looked through that book countless times over the last 30 years that I've owned it and never scrutinized that uniform quite the same as I am doing now (that I am interested in this earlier period of Navy uniforms).

 

Keep posting the info - this thread will be a great reference source for years to come!

 

USS Boston (1887-1946) Members of the Master-at-Arms' mess (Navy First Class Petty Officers and a Marine Corps Sergeant) posed on deck, 1888. This is five years before the Chief Petty Officer rate came into existence....yes, I know I've ma

de 99% of the comments on my own post but this stuff fascinates me....and they're wearing the device...I'm looking for one of these caps too...

I do not profess to be a militaria expert, but I conduct as much research as I am capable of and then write about my findings.
Check out my blogs, The Veteran's Collection (general militaria) and Chevrons and Diamonds (military baseball)

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It's really great to see the details of that old cap device, I've always wondered about them. In illustrations they look like oversized buttons.

 

Sometimes the first class POs of 1885-1893 are confused with CPOs since some of them had "chief" in their titles and they wore coat-and-tie type uniforms. It's interesting that in the earlier period there were blue visor caps for enlisted but no white caps; with the white coat-and-tie uniform they wore the round canvas hat. I don't think the white visor cap came around till 1897, though I'm not positive on that.

 

Thanks for posting, holdaas!

 

Justin

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USS Massachusetts beer line 1896 to 1901...not entirely true...

 

This actually has to be between 1886 and 1894...so this may or may not be a Chief Petty Officer wearing...the device...

 

1886 - The Master-at-Arms rating badge consisted of an eagle, three chevrons, a specialty mark, and three arcs or rockers.

1894 - General Order Number 431 changed the three rockers on the Master-at-Arms rating badge to one rocker.

 

http://www.history.n...uniform_cpo.htm

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It's really great to see the details of that old cap device, I've always wondered about them. In illustrations they look like oversized buttons.

 

Sometimes the first class POs of 1885-1893 are confused with CPOs since some of them had "chief" in their titles and they wore coat-and-tie type uniforms. It's interesting that in the earlier period there were blue visor caps for enlisted but no white caps; with the white coat-and-tie uniform they wore the round canvas hat. I don't think the white visor cap came around till 1897, though I'm not positive on that.

 

Thanks for posting, holdaas!

 

Justin

 

Here’s two more pictures I’ve acquired via eBay, I usually watch these things sky rocket in price and end up with a free picture out of the deal. The biggest joy in this hobby is being the only one to find a mismarked item on eBay.

 

Note the difference in the number of stars.

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I don't have a description of this photo, never wrote it down and never found the photo again...not sure the year but I would guess 1894-1897...maybe a little later?...nice photo though.

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USS Maine CPO Mess 1896...this is a bit of a stretch but there is a cover on the back shelf with the device...it's a good picture too. Why do their racks look so much better than mine ever did?

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USS Maine Gunners Mates 1896. The Chief is standing in the middle.

 

That's a really interesting one. It looks like the chief is wearing the 1886-1894 type rating badge with three arcs on top. If he is a chief gunner's mate, that would put it in the very short window between the creation of the CPO grade in 1893 and the adoption of the modern-pattern rating badges in 1894. Only masters-at-arms wore three rockers 1886-1893.

 

I always enjoy Old Navy pictures, thanks for posting!

 

Justin B.

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This is somewhat applicable to this topic, found this on the NHHC website and cropped it...I never see these on the market...

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That's a really interesting one. It looks like the chief is wearing the 1886-1894 type rating badge with three arcs on top. If he is a chief gunner's mate, that would put it in the very short window between the creation of the CPO grade in 1893 and the adoption of the modern-pattern rating badges in 1894. Only masters-at-arms wore three rockers 1886-1893.

 

I always enjoy Old Navy pictures, thanks for posting!

 

Justin B.

 

Here's a better view of the rating badge.

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Here's a better view of the rating badge.

 

There you go, Chief Gunner's Mate with Seaman Gunner mark. Those were authorized for so short a period, it's very cool to see one in actual use.

Thanks for the post,

Justin B.

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  • 1 year later...
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I was thinking the same thing. I've seen one other one go for a touch over $300 during the season but normally they bring in between $175-250 with them being more during the season (late June-late September). Not sure why this one had such a large gathering.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've been looking for a copy of "Navy Department Circular #79, dated June 12, 1897". This is may be the document that addressed the change from the disk device to the anchor.

 

Quote from the web:

 

"Chief petty officers continued wearing the first class petty officer cap device until 1897 when the Navy introduced the current style CPO cap device. Navy Department Circular #79, dated 12 June 1897, described the new CPO cap device as ―The device for chief petty officers‘ caps (except Bandmaster) shall be the letters U.S.N., in silver, upon a gilt foul anchor."

 

Any help would be appreciated.

 

Ben

 

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