Rare, Short Lived Unit Formed From National Lancers.
Complete Set of Colors For First Troop Cavalry, Provisional, Massachusetts, 1917.
This historic set of colors for the 1st Troop of Cavalry, Provisional came from a dealer in New Hampshire. He had acquired them through another dealer-picker with no provenance.
The set includes the national colors, state flag with 1st Troop Cavalry banner around the state emblem, and the guidon. The national colors pole bears a brass presentation shield that reads, “Presented to, First Troop, Provisional Cavalry, Massachusetts, By, Albert Guy Keith, 1917.” A quick search for Keith did not yield much, but I’m sure something can be found with an investment in time. All I found was he and his wife as contributors to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and assumably a wealthy supporter of the arts and his community at large.
The flags were obviously not placed in a situation that would best preserve the silk that now shows a need of either restoration or correct storage until the time is devoted to that preservation. I hate to say it, but maybe the best thing to do is salvage the Massachusetts State Seal with the unit banner, and frame properly that section. The state flag is approximately the size of the national colors 36” x 48” (approximate measurement without pulling and prodding). One section is nearly gone or in disarray. There are small tears in the silk mostly around the paint of the emblem. The gold fringe is in good condition. The flag at the hoist is holding quite well with one stress tear several inches long.
The national colors, are in better condition with damage in the same area as the state colors, just much less trauma. Small stress points in the silk overall, but generally holding tight. There is another tear on the upper hoist. There is no spade finial for this flag. There are no tassels on the national colors.
The guidon is in the best condition of the three, probably due to the lighter weight pulling on the silk. There are three obvious round stains in the white silk, small stress tears overall, but again not overly visible as the guidon is bearing up quite nicely with the exception of the forked tails with show tears and separations, but certainly the most easiest to restore. The pole is complete and has the leather wrist strap for the rider to use when mounted. The guidon measures 27” x 40-42” approximately.
All of the poles are approx. 9” plus. The guidon broken down in half with the final in place measures about 70”. The national colors and the guidon poles are made and marked, “Made by, The Boston Regalia Company, Boston, Mass.” The pole of the state flag is of different manufacture.
This particular unit was shorted lived. In 1916, Troop A (National Lancers) was Federalize and sent to the Mexican Border chasing down the revolutionary Poncho Villa.
Shortly after their return to the state, war had been declared By President Wilson and the troop was once again federalize and unfortunately for the Lancers, they were dismounted and ordered to fight as infantry, designated as part of the 102nd Machine Gun Battalion of the 26th (Yankee) Division.
Now, while the Lancers are in France, the veterans of the National Lancers organized the First Provisional Cavalry Troop, Mass State Guard in May of 1918. So according to his brief history the national flag presentation of just “1917” by Keith, was either intended for the Troop preparing to leave for France, not knowing they will be re-designated, our the veterans of the National Lancers knew they were going to form a new troop that would be officially organized. However it worked out, the flags are what they are and can’t be anything else. While most of the Mass National Guard was in France, the State Guard (1st Provisional being a part) was called in from time to time to do service within the state, such as the Boston Police Strike of 1919, where the troop remained on duty for several weeks.
With the war over and the return of the national guard units, all the units old and new reorganized into Troop A, 1stSquadron Cavalry in March of 1920, thus the 1st Provisional was no more.
Despite the flaws, the history is there and certainly scarce, short lived unit.
These are very fragile and I really don’t want to mail them. Each boxed separately will be over 6 feet, and the state and national flag may not do so well in shipment. We do shows from Louisville, Ky west, to Richmond, Va south, or if we are going your way in the near future, or by special arrangement can meet to best serve our mutual need in this matter. Anyway, email and discuss this prior to bidding. I will not ship overseas with this particular items.