Haven’t found a collector yet who has seen a pair!
Probably one of the scarcest pair of shoulder straps available on the market today is this pair of Jacob Reed & Sons patented straps marked “PATENTED/JAN. 31. 1871.” This new patent by Reed applied a hinged strap, much like what you would find on epaulets of the period, and use them on here on these rank straps. Once they were slipped through one wide cloth guide on the shoulder, they would lock into place using this spring loaded catch. By pushing away from the brass guide strap, the hook would release the guide and allow the removal of the strap.
During this era, shoulder straps were either held down by the use of laces that would go through holes in the shoulder area and tied down on the inside, or simple the straps were sewn directly to the uniform. No doubt this patent was devised to allow an officer to remove the straps for laundering.
Just by handling these, I can see where eventually the spring in the catch would weaken, making it harder to keep the straps in place. Also, the little brass loop handle to release the catch would extend out beyond the base of the strap and be exposed, which not no make some officers comfortable with the appearance.
These artillery captain straps are otherwise basic types found for use in the Indian Wars era. They are in fine condition with a great deal of gilt remaining on the bullion, and just one moth hole which can be easily repaired.
The straps measure just under 4 inches length. and the maker’s label is on gold embossed leather backings.
Certainly the most interesting uniform insignia I have found for a long time.
USPS Priority $10.00