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Lot 773    

US Civil War Officer's Grimsley Saddle
4/30/2014 - Firearms and Militaria: Live Salesroom Auction

A very nice example of the made-to-order private purchase saddles ridden by officers in both the Federal and Confederate Armies during the Civil War, this saddle exhibits a number of features which indicate it was probably owned by a senior officer of some means.

As the officers were expected to provide their own equipment at their own expense, the more embellishments a piece of officer's equipment - be it a sword, uniform or saddle - can be indicative of his social and financial status.  Such is the case with this Civil War-era Grimsley officer's saddle.

Most certainly made to order by a civilian saddler using the distinctive Grimsley seat with high pommel and cantle as the foundation, this saddle closely resembles the standard US Army Grimsley pattern, but it incorporates a number of custom features that differ from the regulations.

The seat is covered with a stuffed ribbed pad and the edges of the pommel and cantle are covered with brass molding.  As any stitched decoration on the lightweight leather used to fashion these padded seats weakened the leather and accelerated the effects of aging, surviving examples of saddles with the seats in this very good condition are quite scarce.  The lower edges of the padded seat are anchored to the tree with brass nails having large domed decorative heads.  These same brass nails are used on the front and rear extensions of the side bars to anchor the upper ends of the quarter-strap assembly, and to secure the leather covering on the face surfaces of the pommel and cantle.

Brass equipment rings are attached with brass barrel staples on the front and rear extensions of the side bars on both sides. The inner and outer faces of the pommel and cantle are mounted with decorative brass plates. On the outer face of the pommel is a brass "L"-shaped post made of round bar stock mounted in a round escutcheon plate. Differing from the brass hooks found on the pommels and cantles of the Grimsley artillery driver and valise saddles which were used to attach the various harness straps, this type of smaller, less robust post has been noted on a number of Civil War officer's saddles and it is believed to have been used as a mounting point for a pair of pommel holsters for carrying the officer's pistols.

Below both sides of the seat is a long lobed outer skirt and a shorter inner skirt, consistent with the standard pattern Grimsley.  Unlike the girth straps normally found on Grimsley saddles, this saddle is fitted with a quarterstrap assembly very similar to that of the Model 1859 McClellan - a quarterstrap attached in front of the pommel and another behind the cantle, meeting below the seat on each side in an iron "D"-ring.  From the "D"-rings depend two girth straps which are attached to what appears to be the original black leather-cloth material backed girth. The girth straps are complete and intact, and the girth is full length and complete with both buckles.

The stirrup hoods are taller than those found on enlisted men's stirrups of the period, and they are fashioned with elongated lobes on side of and well below the tread. The more elaborate shaped hoods, embellished with a decoration of a double line of stamping are indicative of and consistent with stirrups found on other officer's saddles of this period. The stirrups depend from what appear to be original Model 1859 McClellan stirrup straps with iron frame buckles.  Such straps were a saddle component that an officer would have had already access to through the normal supply process as his saddle's original stirrup straps wore out or broke under the rigors of field use.

Completing this saddle is a crupper, the set of strapping attached to the rear equipment rings which prevents the saddle from shifting by means of a padded ring that encircles the horse's tail.  While generally following the pattern of the standard Model 1859 Crupper, this specimen features brass buckles and a brass ring, indicative of having been made specifically for an officer, and quite possibly original to this saddle. Officer's saddle cruppers are relatively rare in their own right. Finding such a piece intact with all the straps and buckles and still attached is unusual and noteworthy.



Condition:  
This specimen is in overall excellent condition, showing only minor wear aging consistent with, and to be expected in saddles from this era, with none of the damage from severe use or poor storage seen in many saddles from this period.
Sold: $5,875.00
Price includes
Buyer's Premium
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