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White Army Officer's Mess Uniform -- Ca 1912


GIl Sanow

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WHen I started collecting US Army uniforms almost 40 years ago, I set the challenge of trying to acquire an example of each authorized type from the Spanish American War era through the end of the 20th century. I pretty well succeeded, with the exception of experimental types. Two eluded me -- the early pre-WW1 white officer's mess uniform and the pre WW2 white EM's uniform. I finally gave up the idea a couple of years back, but then I went to the OVMS show in Wilmington, OH last weekend. And there, in moth-eaten and yellowed glory was one of the two I had sought for years -- It was on USMF member Jeff Schrader's table and it was marked 'half-off!'

 

Yeah, I bought it, even with all it's warts. Up close it looks like it was shot with a shotgun, but it is real. It is also somewhat of a puzzle, as I will explain later.

 

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It does have several features which I will probably never explain. From top to bottom, these include a label from a Coblenz (Germany) tailor? Why I do not know.

 

Secondly the apparent attachment system for the detachable knots. Why there are two loops at the sleeve end of the shoulder is unknown to me. Apparently the original knots were to be screwed to the shoulder using threaded buttons of a type which I haven't encountered. The knots shown are later and used as an example only, they are not original to the jacket

 

The buttons, on both the vest and jacket, are rimless gilt of the 1903-1911 era. They are American made, and sewn to the coat, not detachable.

 

The cuff insignia is that for a captain.

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The trousers are interesting too. For one thing, they are cuffed. I have never found any regulation authorizing this feature, but I haven't found any specific regulation for this uniform at all. The trousers were made in New York, and they have the name Capt. Bond in the waistband.

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I consulted the best reference I have, Bill Emerson's "Encyclopedia of United States Army Insignia and Uniforms" and found some mention of this rather obscure uniform.

 

Apparently sometime after the major revision of US Army uniform regulations published in 1902, there was an authorization for mess jackets. These were not exactly specified and the style and details were to be decided by the individual regiments. Some were blue, some were white, and I have seen photos of red examples worn by Artillery officers (with dark lapels!). Emerson states that white mess uniforms were first authorized in December, 1911 and further described in January, 1912 and were to be optional in the US and required in the tropics.

 

White vests were also an option with the blue mess jacket already. White trousers were mandated until 1928, as were white shoes.

 

I suspect this one was pre 1911, given the earlier rimless buttons, but there is no way of knowing for sure. These older buttons are found on uniforms into the 1930's, probably because they were easier to shine than the rimmed with their ribbed background.

 

So, why was the jacket made in Coblenz? Was Capt. Bond visiting Germany for some reason and needed a white jacket?

 

Why was it made of wool? Only white cotton drill was authorized later -- and the visored white caps were to be in cotton too.

 

Who was Captain Bond? Just for kicks, I tried to research him. There were two in the Army in 1912. One, John L. Bond, was assigned to the 30th Infantry in 1912. The other was a West Point grad (1896) named Paul Bond who was an Engineer officer.

 

If nothing else, this is a unique uniform. Now I still need to find the late '30's EM roll-collar type. Gotta get it before Jamecharles beats me to it!

 

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I am always surprised that when I post something really obscure and exotic, I get absolutely NO reaction! I guess some of my stuff leaves people speechless!

 

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Congrats on finding a long time want Gil. Hope this renews your enthusiasm for your last (?) piece.

 

Mark

Looking for for 37th Division

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Amazing find i low the mess dress uniforms !! So the white mess dress uniforms use white trousers before 1936 /37 ! really particular

 

great find i love it :D

Always looking for BLUE DRESS ARMY UNIFORMS (1936-1950)

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Two eluded me -- the early pre-WW1 white officer's mess uniform and the pre WW2 white EM's uniform. I finally gave up the idea a couple of years back, but then I went to the OVMS show in Wilmington, ...

 

Pre ww2 white EM's uniforms??? there is a pre war em white dress uniforms !?!?

can you let see me an example?? :D i'M REALLY CURIOUS

 

 

Giancarlo

Always looking for BLUE DRESS ARMY UNIFORMS (1936-1950)

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Brian Dentino
I am always surprised that when I post something really obscure and exotic, I get absolutely NO reaction! I guess some of my stuff leaves people speechless!

 

G

 

G, congrats on the find.....only one left now! :w00t: I think that the reason that some (like me) don't post is that some of your collection is so rare that items shown are ones that I have never seen or knew existed! :ermm: Like this uniform.....never seen one.

Again, nice addition and you are 50% complete on your "bucket" list! :thumbsup: :lol:

Always looking for 325th G.I.R. and WWII USMC items!

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Amazing find i low the mess dress uniforms !! So the white mess dress uniforms use white trousers before 1936 /37 ! really particular

 

great find i love it :D

 

 

White trou until 1928.

 

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Pre ww2 white EM's uniforms??? there is a pre war em white dress uniforms !?!?

can you let see me an example?? :D i'M REALLY CURIOUS

Giancarlo

 

I think I only ever saw one pic of EM in roll collar whites -- ca 1938. I beieve it was in DC, where one might expect to find it. I cannot recall ever seeing any authorizing regulation either. It may well have been worn by very few people at all.

 

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I am always surprised that when I post something really obscure and exotic, I get absolutely NO reaction! I guess some of my stuff leaves people speechless!

 

G

 

 

Gil,

Great looking uniform, warts and all! I have only been able to use my Iphone to view the forum lately, so seeing this on a real PC screen is so much better. If this would have been the Engineer officer's, would it have had the Engineer buttons?

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Gil,

 

I don't know if I'm mixing apples with oranges. I have a WWII vintage mess uniform that consists of the white waist coat, white vest, and black trousers with silk stripe down each outer seam (no cuffs). I also have a wedding photo of him wearing this uniform. He was a Signal Corps Colonel. I'm assuming this uniform post-dates your rather rare earlier version. Jack

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Gil,

 

I don't know if I'm mixing apples with oranges. I have a WWII vintage mess uniform that consists of the white waist coat, white vest, and black trousers with silk stripe down each outer seam (no cuffs). I also have a wedding photo of him wearing this uniform. He was a Signal Corps Colonel. I'm assuming this uniform post-dates your rather rare earlier version. Jack

 

that's right , your version is the m1937 / 38 model i've 2 of them i'll do some photos when i'll back home so we 'll do a comparison ;)

try to post your white mess dress i'm curious!!

 

I think I only ever saw one pic of EM in roll collar whites -- ca 1938. I beieve it was in DC, where one might expect to find it. I cannot recall ever seeing any authorizing regulation either. It may well have been worn by very few people at all.

 

G

 

 

O____O don't say soooooooo ! now i wanna find it and see this version :D

Always looking for BLUE DRESS ARMY UNIFORMS (1936-1950)

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Gil,

Great looking uniform, warts and all! I have only been able to use my Iphone to view the forum lately, so seeing this on a real PC screen is so much better. If this would have been the Engineer officer's, would it have had the Engineer buttons?

 

 

Good point -- probably more likely the Infantry officer. But I should check earlier -- say 1905-1911 registers to see if there are other candidated. BTW -- Paul Bond started out in Artillery.

 

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that's right , your version is the m1937 / 38 model i've 2 of them i'll do some photos when i'll back home so we 'll do a comparison ;)

try to post your white mess dress i'm curious!!

O____O don't say soooooooo ! now i wanna find it and see this version :D

 

 

Lotsa luck! As I said, I have had my eyes open for one for over 25 years, to no avail.

 

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I am always surprised that when I post something really obscure and exotic, I get absolutely NO reaction! I guess some of my stuff leaves people speechless!

 

G

 

Pretty funny Gil. You and I have the same problem. What we collect isn't always "sexy" enough to get the "ooos and ahhhs", but take heart that you're preserving a piece of history that would otherwise be lost. There's lots of us out there, we're just quiet. We also don't need a pat on the back to keep going.

 

Mark

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  • 10 years later...

Gil -

Great early (pre-1928) white mess uniform. Perhaps he was stationed in Coblenz during the Occupation after WWI, and had the uniform tailored while he was there. I managed to acquire the white mess uniform (complete with trousers, vest, and hat) worn by then-Major Otto H. Schrader, CAC. During WWI (1916-18), he was stationed at Ft Kamehameha, guarding the approaches to Pearl Harbor in the Territory of Hawaii, becoming the C.O. from Jun-Nov 1918. In the same purchase, I got his M-1937 dress blue uniform (with the 'pinks' riding breeches & russet boots), as well as his special evening dress uniform -- both date from when he was a full colonel, commanding the 8th Coast Artillery Regiment / Harbor Defenses of Portland & Portsmouth (1937-40).

 

The most challenging of the 20th Century Army uniform for me to find was the high-collar white dress uniform (1902-36) for a mounted officer (e.g., with breeches & black boots, shown in the photo being worn by the President's aide in 1910). Finally found the white breeches to go with the high-collar coat.

 

Still on the lookout for the special evening dress uniform hat worn in 1955. That year, the sleeve insignia on the tailcoat changed. Along with that change came a 'new' hat, described as follows:  cap had a plain black patent leather visor for company and field officers – with only general officers wearing embroidered oak leaves – and a band 1 ¾” inches in width, consisting of a ½” dark blue stripe, ¾” two-vellum gold color manipulated thread of two-vellum gold bullion stripe, and a ½” dark blue stripe

 

That is the opposite of dress blue cap, which has gold braid above/below the branch color in silk. Never even seen a photo of that 1955 hat.

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