The M1883 to M1904 Campaign Hats

rayg
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The hat sold for $997.98. Ray

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Originally posted by rayg
The hat sold for $997.98. Ray

RayG/Wisconsin

Wow.

It's odd to think how some item that was nearly valueless to the trooper at the time it was issued, except in terms of the practicality of its use, is now worth a lot of cash.

I'm not criticizing, just noting.

Pat
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It is amazing how much old things bring now days. Actually I thought the price was very reasonable for it. I figured it would go for more then it did. It was in great shape, super contract and depot marked, and with it's original chin strap and hat cord. Couldn't ask for a better one. I saw one that was almost as nice but not as well marked about four years ago at a show go for $1200. Maybe because the seller was from out of the country it didn't meet it's potentional value.
I have three 1904 campaign hats but none of them hold a candle even close to this one.
Wish I would of had the money to bid on it but I recently spend all my money on four items I've been after for a long time, they all came within two weeks of each other. Here's the photos of were my money went.

First was a eagle snap Cavalry M1912 bandolier for the 1903 rifle and a set of M1907 suspenders to go with my eagle snap M1912 cartridge belt, Next was an original sling to go with my US Navy/Marine Winchester Lee rifle, (real hard to find on the loose and not cheap), the last was a Russian WWII SVT rifle with an "original" mount and scope.

Sorry for being long winded but I guess I have too much time on my hands, Ray
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Originally posted by rayg
It is amazing how much old things bring now days. Actually I thought the price was very reasonable for it. I figured it would go for more then it did. It was in great shape, super contract and depot marked, and with it's original chin strap and hat cord. Couldn't ask for a better one. I saw one that was almost as nice but not as well marked about four years ago at a show go for $1200. Maybe because the seller was from out of the country it didn't meet it's potentional value.
I have three 1904 campaign hats but none of them hold a candle even close to this one.
Wish I would of had the money to bid on it but I recently spend all my money on four items I've been after for a long time, they all came within two weeks of each other. Here's the photos of were my money went.

First was a eagle snap Cavalry M1912 bandolier for the 1903 rifle and a set of M1907 suspenders to go with my eagle snap M1912 cartridge belt, Next was an original sling to go with my US Navy/Marine Winchester Lee rifle, (real hard to find on the loose and not cheap), the last was a Russian WWII SVT rifle with an "original" mount and scope.

Sorry for being long winded but I guess I have too much time on my hands, Ray
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Nice photos, and nice items.

Have you shot that Navy Lee and SVT?

Pat
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Thanks Pat. I haven't shot either one yet but have put together the components to reload for the Lee so hopefully I will be shooting it in the near future. The SVT, as I mentioned, I had just gotten and do plan on shooting that also. Ray

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Originally posted by rayg
Thanks Pat. I haven't shot either one yet but have put together the components to reload for the Lee so hopefully I will be shooting it in the near future. The SVT, as I mentioned, I had just gotten and do plan on shooting that also. Ray

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Is that cartridge belt original for the Lee also? I'll bet the sling was very tough to find.

The Navy Lee is an interesting rifle. Way ahead of its time in some ways, perhaps just too far ahead of it. I have a commercial Lee case in my collection with a very large primer dent. I've always wondered if it was fired by a Navy Lee or some other rifle chambered for that cartridge.

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Pat you are right the M1895 Win-Lee was way ahead of it's time. The small calibre 6mm round, (approx. 24.2) at about 2700 fps plus (even with the powders back then), was a hot little round for it's day compared to the 30 cal Krag rd. at approx 2200-2300 fps. The rifle was also loaded by five shot charger clips like the 1903 Springfield used years later.

The cartridge belt is for the rifle and the pockets are for the cartridge clips. The belts complete with the suspenders are very scarce however of all the things most hard to find, was the sling. A sling on the loose is hardest item to find for the rifle. I know of a couple slings that sold for more then I paid for my rifle. I was fortunate to find one and for a lot less, but still it wasn't cheap.
I believe all the 6mm cartridges were commerical purchased by the Navy not arsenal made, so your case could have been issued for the Lee, Ray

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Originally posted by rayg
Pat you are right the M1895 Win-Lee was way ahead of it's time. The small calibre 6mm round, (approx. 24.2) at about 2700 fps plus (even with the powders back then), was a hot little round for it's day compared to the 30 cal Krag rd. at approx 2200-2300 fps. The rifle was also loaded by five shot charger clips like the 1903 Springfield used years later.

The cartridge belt is for the rifle and the pockets are for the cartridge clips. The belts complete with the suspenders are very scarce however of all the things most hard to find, was the sling. A sling on the loose is hardest item to find for the rifle. I know of a couple slings that sold for more then I paid for my rifle. I was fortunate to find one and for a lot less, but still it wasn't cheap.
I believe all the 6mm cartridges were commercial purchased by the Navy not arsenal made, so your case could have been issued for the Lee, Ray

RayG/Wisconsin
I'll scan the base and post it. I looked at it just today, and it says something like "6mm U.S. Navy". I've always assumed it was a commercial cartridge, as I found it out on the range while kicking around on somebody's place, but I don't know that much about the stamps on them.

It's an interesting cartridge. Given proper handloading today, it might demonstrate fair utility.

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Great pictures! I've forwarded this to my hat seeking friend. Thanks for re-opening the thread.
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By coincidence Kurt drew this to my attention the other day:

http://www.andersonmilitaria.com/Web_Pa ... ear/1H.htm

An example of the rare 1872 campaign hat in fine condition.
You will need deep pockets if you want to add it to your collection!

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Ok, the picture are great!
Where can we we look for a reproduction suitable for display 1881 thru 1904 style?
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Originally posted by rayg
Oops I see Corney does mean rabbits hair. However I know I read some where that they used another animal's hair in Australia. Wish I could remember where I read it. Ray

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Here are the photos of the Win-Lee rifle with the sling and cartridge belt and the 1912 belt with the bandolier etc. that were deleted, Ray
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rayg wrote:Here are the photos of the Win-Lee rifle with the sling and cartridge belt and the 1912 belt with the bandolier etc. that were deleted, Ray
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I'm jealous of that Lee.
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rayg wrote:I think I have a sickness [:(]as I can't seem to pass up any of these early campaign hats when I find them at a reasonable price. Here's one I just got at a local military show a couple of weeks ago for a reasonable price. I now have ten of them, (6)- 1883/89's, (1)- 1899, and (3)-1904's. and would you believe that I actually had parted with a couple of others a few years back. Most of these hats are on manikin displays, I just took them all off for a "Group Photo" [:D], Here's my recent one, Ray

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It seems to me that these caps may have been the first item of US military clothing to take on a drab appearance. I presume that was probably simply incidental, and that the brown color was adopted for other reasons. What was the reason for changing the color?
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Practical items just keep on going and going. Here is my favorite hat...crushable, water repellent, and rugged...
http://www.sheplers.com/i/p/096/096606/ ... 1_770x.jpg
I like it so much, I bought three, just in case they quit making it. It also comes in a lighter color which is very close to the color of the early 1900s service hats:
http://www.sheplers.com/hats/outback_hats/096a25.html

I think the Army should scrap all their other utility hats/caps and just use these. In fact, I think I'll put a cavalry cord on mine.
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Kelton Oliver wrote:Practical items just keep on going and going. Here is my favorite hat...crushable, water repellent, and rugged...
http://www.sheplers.com/i/p/096/096606/ ... 1_770x.jpg
I like it so much, I bought three, just in case they quit making it. It also comes in a lighter color which is very close to the color of the early 1900s service hats:
http://www.sheplers.com/hats/outback_hats/096a25.html

I think the Army should scrap all their other utility hats/caps and just use these. In fact, I think I'll put a cavalry cord on mine.
Kelton,

Have you ever noticed the crushable hats shrinking? I left mine in a hot car once and it shrank considerably! :cry:
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Kelton Oliver wrote:Practical items just keep on going and going. Here is my favorite hat...crushable, water repellent, and rugged...
http://www.sheplers.com/i/p/096/096606/ ... 1_770x.jpg
I like it so much, I bought three, just in case they quit making it. It also comes in a lighter color which is very close to the color of the early 1900s service hats:
http://www.sheplers.com/hats/outback_hats/096a25.html

I think the Army should scrap all their other utility hats/caps and just use these. In fact, I think I'll put a cavalry cord on mine.
Construction would be very different, however.

These are wool felt hats. Wool felt hats are generally thicker and less durable that fur felt hats. Modern fur felt hats are stiffer than wool hat, and much more water repellent and durable. Prior to the mid 20th Century, fur felt hats were softer than they are now, as the felting process was different than the current one (it featured mercury, which was dangerous to the hat makers). They were just as durable as the current fur felt hats, but considerably softer. The campaign hats depicted in this thread were fur felt (coney). M1911s, however, were sometimes, and perhaps often, wool felt. Or at least the general issue one often was.

I'm not condemning wool felt hats, but if a person gets a really good fur felt hat, it's a revelation. They're so far superior to anything they compete with, including ball caps, boonie caps, gortext hats, or anything else, that when a person gets a good one, that fits, they tend to abandon other hats for prolonged outdoor use. The others all have their uses, to be sure, but there's no comparing them to a fur felt hat.
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Pat Holscher wrote:
Kelton Oliver wrote:Practical items just keep on going and going. Here is my favorite hat...crushable, water repellent, and rugged...
http://www.sheplers.com/i/p/096/096606/ ... 1_770x.jpg
I like it so much, I bought three, just in case they quit making it. It also comes in a lighter color which is very close to the color of the early 1900s service hats:
http://www.sheplers.com/hats/outback_hats/096a25.html

I think the Army should scrap all their other utility hats/caps and just use these. In fact, I think I'll put a cavalry cord on mine.
Construction would be very different, however.

These are wool felt hats. Wool felt hats are generally thicker and less durable that fur felt hats. Modern fur felt hats are stiffer than wool hat, and much more water repellent and durable. Prior to the mid 20th Century, fur felt hats were softer than they are now, as the felting process was different than the current one (it featured mercury, which was dangerous to the hat makers). They were just as durable as the current fur felt hats, but considerably softer. The campaign hats depicted in this thread were fur felt (coney). M1911s, however, were sometimes, and perhaps often, wool felt. Or at least the general issue one often was.

I'm not condemning wool felt hats, but if a person gets a really good fur felt hat, it's a revelation. They're so far superior to anything they compete with, including ball caps, boonie caps, gortext hats, or anything else, that when a person gets a good one, that fits, they tend to abandon other hats for prolonged outdoor use. The others all have their uses, to be sure, but there's no comparing them to a fur felt hat.
No argument about fur felt hats being "better" -- but you can't get one for $39.95 and you can't stuff it into your coat pocket and have it come out with its shape. Fur felt hats require more care and I abuse the h*** out of mine. I once ran over one with a tractor and 5 foot mower deck (running) and it had so little damage that I kept wearing it for several more years. If I could find a fur felt hat which was truly "crushable" like the wool ones I like, I'd buy it in a minute. And no, I've never had one shrink. I can't imagine the Army adopting a hat that cost $400. Fur felt was probably cheaper once upon a time, but it ain't an option for any sort of general issue today. I haven't handled any of the original hats pictured; were they more "crushable" than the common "cowboy" hats of today?
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Kelton Oliver wrote:
No argument about fur felt hats being "better" -- but you can't get one for $39.95 and you can't stuff it into your coat pocket and have it come out with its shape. Fur felt hats require more care and I abuse the h*** out of mine. I once ran over one with a tractor and 5 foot mower deck (running) and it had so little damage that I kept wearing it for several more years. If I could find a fur felt hat which was truly "crushable" like the wool ones I like, I'd buy it in a minute. And no, I've never had one shrink. I can't imagine the Army adopting a hat that cost $400. Fur felt was probably cheaper once upon a time, but it ain't an option for any sort of general issue today. I haven't handled any of the original hats pictured; were they more "crushable" than the common "cowboy" hats of today?
Fur felt hats are actually more durable than wool felt hats to a very considerably degree (although wool is durable), but you can not roll one up and put it in a pocket, that's for sure. Still, people sometimes imagine fur felt hats to be more delicate than they really are, and they don't require very much care, or even any care, as an outdoor hat, if a person doesn't mind that they'll begin to look pretty outdoorsy. Sometimes I think the inclination is to take more care of them so they don't begin to look that way, particularly for a dress hat, as they are pricey. I only just retired a beaver felt hat that I'd been using hard for about 19 years. In that period of time, it had suffered every sort of abuse a hat can suffer, and had taken on an odd color (it was a silverbelly hat), due to the combined effects of horse snot, cow slobber, rain, snow, blood of various types, cow flop and rabbit urine.

Yes, rabbit urine. Ick.

My current general purpose one is 18 years old, but I wore it a lot less prior to retiring the other one. It's endured most of the same elements so far, except for rabbit urine, and has also been used as a cow wacker. It's still retaining its shape.

But no regular fur felt hat (save for a few light rabbit hats) will crush. They're not built to. The need to do that provides the reason for the crushable hat, which does fill a real need, as it can be rolled up and put in a pocket. Indeed, that fact sort of defines the reason for the decline in hat wearing. When most men wore hats (and there were always wool hats out there, to be sure, to include wool felt Fedoras in the golden age of Fedoras), they were outdoors more, or were in conditions that inconvenienced hat wearers less. The modern automobile has really changed hat conditions, and most people work indoors now, so hats have declined greatly, and when hats are worn, as you note, it's often the case that people need to be able to roll them up. A hat that won't can be a pain in some circumstances, as in a car, or on a plane, or on a train, etc. They can even be a pain when you just come indoors, as the hat stand that once existed in every office has disappeared, and if you wear a hat in town, you'll be faced with either holding your hat, or wearing it indoors (which we were all told was rude when we were kids, and which I still cannot bring myself to do). This is equally true for hats like officers' "peak caps" and the like, all of which are a lot less attractive to users than they one were. As broad brim hats, like cowboy hats or campaign hats, are designed to be stiff and retain their shape when wet, that's definitely true for them.

So even while wearing a hat is a good idea for a lot of people, in a lot of conditions, modern life operates against the wearing of every type of hat or cap except for the baseball cap.

The item of costs is a good one and brings up an interesting point. For working hands and the like, a good quality cowboy hat ($200 to $400) is still a good buy, as they last a very long time, and they're an important piece of protective headgear. At first blush, that's hard to convince people of, but when people who work outdoors, or are outdoors, a lot go to one, they typically won't go back, as they're so far superior. But unless it was a helmet, it'd be hard to imagine the military buying something so expensive today. How much did these items cost back when they were issued?

The late 19th Century hats appear to have been fur felt, but they were "coney". As we explored earlier in this thread, by coney, they appear to be rabbit. Rabbit felt is a pretty good felt. It's not the same quality as beaver felt, but it's not bad either. Australian hats are nearly uniformly rabbit. I presume that Australian diggers hats, that legendary style of slouch hat worn by Australian soldiers (and borrowed by other Commonwealth armies) were rabbit. Rabbit would have been a good choice for them, as it would have been cool enough in hot weather, if made as a relatively light hat, and would still shed rain. Rabbit fur hats are made by all the major hat makers today, and actually beaver felt hats are often fur blends, with the other fur being rabbit. Akubra, the legendary Australian hat maker, makes a lot of nice fur felt hats, or so I'm told, as I've never owned an Akubra.

Rabbit felt hats are a lot cheaper than beaver felt hats, but they're not $40.00 either. I'd guess that the Army campaign hats, back in the day, were not expensive. Early on, some of them, like the Hardee hat, had a reputation for being poorly built or poorly fitting (and that hat might have been a stiff wool hat). The ones in this thread show that the Army had upgraded in terms of quality, and were issuing a better hat. But, at the same time, we probably should keep in mind that these were worn before the helmet, so they were outdoor and combat gear, and the Army may have calculated that the added expense for a rabbit fur hat was worth it, all things being equal. In the same period, the Army was seeing quite a few soldiers buy their own hats, prior to a good campaign hat being introduced, so soldiers were drawing the same conclusion.* Given that they were fighting in the West at the time, the expense, probably not great, was probably deemed worth it. I can't imagine the Army spending any serious amount on a hat today, particularly one that's difficult to transport, so any hat used in any capacity, of the broad brimmed type, today is definitely not going to be of the really high grade quality. Rabbit felt would be the most expensive option I can imagine the Army buying, and even then, that would be quite unlikely on any sort of extended basis.

Anyhow, by WWI all sorts of different materials seem to have been used. I've never been able to determine it with certainty, but I think a high percentage of M1911 hats, right from the start, were wool felt. They weren't all wool felt, but I'd guess that the majority of them were wool felt. By late in their issuance, I'd guess (but don't know) that they were all wool felt. If somebody knows, I'd appreciate that being clarified. That probably reflects expense, as I'd guess that wool felt hats were simply cheaper.

And wool felt is very durable. It isn't as durable as fur felt, but it's durable enough. It's somewhat hotter, in my opinion, but that may be due to the thickness, as it often seems that it is fairly thick in comparison to fur felt, which must have something to do with the material. And it looses it shape badly in a stiffer hat, which is evidenced by quite a few photos of the M1911 hat in use. It can, however, be made into a very pliable, "crushable" hat, which I do not think other materials can be (or at least they aren't).

Pat

*As a footnote to the costs of materials, high quality cowboy hats have always been a bit pricey, as are good working boots. Hats are at an all time high now, which has to do with some oddities of the fur market (lower demand has equated with higher prices, as fur used in felting is just what's left when the fur is otherwise used for something else). But in relative terms they've tended to be a bit pricey all along. That seems odd, when considering the at least theoretically intended user, but they're a piece of serious gear, like a helmet for a soldier, or a hardhat, etc., and last an extremely long time. So for that reason, historically it was a mark of a "real" cowboy, at one time, when he'd bought a good hat, and good boots. Part of that was just show, of course, but part of it was also that they were part of the tools of the trade, like a good saddle.
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