Naval Captain’s Uniform Group, ca. 1925
I brought a hat and some shoulder things and then a belt... or I'm not sure what it is, actually. And they were my great-great-uncle's possessions, and he won 11 Olympic medals.
He did? Where did he go to school at?
He went to school at the Naval Academy in Maryland.
The Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. And these are the pieces that he wore later in life. Do you know what these are called?
Exactly-- epaulets. And they go on the shoulders of the uniform, and we have the eagle, which means that he was a captain. That's the rank that he held. They're just dress. Some people actually think that the early ones were designed to protect the shoulders from saber strikes, but that wasn't the case. These are beautiful. They've got the anchor for the Navy, and they've got little Navy buttons, with the droop-wing style eagle, with the anchor. It's got the brass bullion around the edge. Just really pretty having the set. And this is a fore-and-aft hat. These were real popular with the Naval soldiers, even back as early as the Revolutionary War. This one, again, has the same kind of button. And if we turn it over, it's W.H. Horstmann, and they were located in Philadelphia. And that's the company that would have sold it. They sold a lot of really high quality pieces such as these to well-to-do soldiers and sailors, and they were actually in business from the early 1800s on up into World War II. They sold pieces during World War II as well. And this is a belt. What are these for, do you know?
They're sword hangers. And if you notice, we have the small clasps. That's what actually slipped into the mount rings on the sword, and that's where his sword would have hung from. What's interesting about it is that you have the box. Most of the time, these pieces get separated over the years, and it's nice that we have them all together, because it all goes into this one box. It's japanned tin. Would have been really fancy, once upon a time.
Was the box originally all black?
It would have been all black, and then they would have outlined it in the gold paint to kind of dress it up a little bit. And it would have been a really expensive set when he bought them new. So he would have saved them for his best occasions. And these pieces would be from the later part of his service-- probably 1920s, 1930s, right around through there, because he had made the high rank of captain, and it's nice that it is the higher rank. The higher rank, the more the value of the pieces. As a group, because we know who it is, because of your ancestor, it makes it a little bit more of a personal item. This is a piece that if I was going to insure it, I'd want to insure it for about a thousand dollars as a group.
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