Flasheart

British Grenadier Mitre Cap, 2nd Regiment of Foot, circa 1740

29 posts in this topic

Guys,

I have an opportunity to purchase what appear to be two original surviving 18th century British grenadier caps.  The first is an early (1730s-1740s) wool grenadier mitre cap.  2nd Regiment of Foot (Queen's).  'CR' and garter for Queen Caroline, white horse of Hanover.  The cap was deteriorating badly and all of the stiffener material had long since fallen away.  An attempt had been made to stiffen it with cork sheeting but that too had crumbled away.   The current owner had the mitre professionally and painstakingly restored, which included restitching all the rotted stitching back through the original holes with WW2 vintage cotton thread.   Before and after photos attached.  It seems to have passed all inspections as an original piece, but I would like to hear any views from the experts.

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After restoration, by a very reputable restorer, with a new acid-free stiffener.

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18 hours ago, Flasheart said:

no opinions at all?

Way too early a date item for me to say anymore than it looks good, but whether it is an original or a movie prop etc.... I could not say.

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Thanks Jerry,
 
i agree difficult to assess, given that it even pre-dates the 1751 Warrant.  I now have a very detailed conservation record and accompanying photographs from the restorer - a very experienced conservator from Arizona- and he is no doubt that it is original. He has restored hundreds of antique uniforms and headgear and he confirms that in materials, construction method, wear, configuration, the mitre is original 18th century.  
 
I cannot not find references to these earlier patterns.  Plenary of pictures and drawings of post - 1751 2nd regiment mitres (red upper rear section, number and grenade on the back) but none of this earlier version.  
 
Mike

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Nobody replied at first because there aren't any real experts! These things just don't turn up, and outside museums nobody ever gets the chance to see or handle them. This seems to have undergone a fairly drastic restoration and I just wonder the cork stiffening was not an original part of it and if it was really necessary to dismantle it to the extent shown, but whatever, it's done now. Has the cork sheeting and what remains of the original thread been preserved? Obviously if it is an original it is just about the most fantastic piece of British militaria you could ever expect to find, but without actually radio-carbon dating the cloth and stitching it's only ever going to be an opinion. It certainly looks credible and if the whole thing is hand-stitched, it would be a colossal undertaking to fake one and get it looking so right. My experience doesn't go back beyond the 19th century but if it's worth anything, I'm cautiously in its favour. It'd be much harder to repro than the other one you've posted, which I'm a lot less sure of and will comment on in a moment. And if these two are coming from the same source, that would cause me to think long and hard about who is selling them and why.

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Asking for advice prior to having such a rare artifact restored may have inspired more candid opinions. There are those who feel that any restoration to such a piece would be anathema to its integrity. It would be similar to re-blueing an antique gun or repainting an old faded truncheon. Feelings on either side of the argument would be passionate and both sides would have some merit. Asking for opinions after the work is done may stifle the argument. It would, after all, be a moot point, and, being gentlemen, we might be inclined to keep our opinions to ourselves. Cheers, Mike. 

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I appreciate Mike's point, as I have a smattering of museum training and experience, but even museums do some restoration/repair if not doing so would mean the destruction of the artifact by age and neglect.  I must confess I blanched when I read "restitiching... using WW2 vintage cotton thread" But I'm hoping that means the stitches actually holding the pieces together and not any of the embroidery, as venturing into the latter area probably crosses the nebulous line between 'conservation' and 'improvement'.

Way too early for me to have an informed opinion as well, but I would think that provenance, if any, would be important.  As recently as 100 years ago, such things were made for military tattoos, parades, and display, by hand using techniques indeistinguisable form the original manufacture but the sheer amount of work involved might one to think this is NOT a reproduction.  Either way, it is a truly lovely piece.

If you'd like to PM me, I have a friend whose business is the creation and restoration of museum quality uniforms form the period in question and he may have some useful ideas if you get in touch with him.

Peter

 

 

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ID: 8   Posted (edited)

Gents,

i don't own the hat yet.  It was restored a couple of years ago.  If it had been me, I think I would have used, sparingly, some invisible thread to secure the failing seams, packed the inside with acid free tissue paper to the correct shape and left it as it was.  

However, the owner and the conservator decided to do a meticulous restoration / conservation job to ensure it would survive.  This included dismantling (most of the seam threads had failed, so it was coming apart), careful cleaning of several hundred years of soot and tobacco residue, careful stitch work to secure damaged/failing embroidery.

You will note in the before photo that the 'T' in TERRENT is tucked under the base, this is incorrect.  The conservator assessed that some time in the 19th century, some of the material around the base had been cut away (rotted or frayed perhaps?) and a new cloth liner with a cork stiffener had been fitted.  

This liner in turn had deteriorated over next hundred years or so, and the black cloth liner was crudely fitted to stop debris falling onto the mantelpiece perhaps? The black cloth liner has in turn deteriorated.  The conservator has added about 3/4" of matching period antique green and red wool cloth to the base to restore the original length, and has then added a natural cotton liner.

Most of the helmets in my collection are Franco-Prussian War through to WW2, so this sort of conservation effort is not required.  Although the restoration has been quite intrusive, maybe it was necessity?

 

Mike

Edited by Flasheart

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All things considered, it is a beautiful and important historical artifact. It is certain to be the center-piece to any collection. Mike

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I have searched the web looking for similar mitres. There are maybe a dozen or so that seem to be recorded, mainly in the National Army Museum, and almost all of which are officer's mitres. This Pinterest board shows those I have found:

http://pin.it/xiqMPYl

None of them look like the mitres depicted in Moriers paintings. However, this 2nd Regiment Mitre largely matches the 1751 configuration mitre depicted by Morier, except that the upper back section isn't red, and it doesn't have the Regiment number on the rear flap.  Indicating post 1727 (when the queens monogram was approved) but before the 1751 Warrant.   

Does anyone one here have any photos or images of other surviving enlisted grenadier mitres?  

 

 

The conservator, Turner Laughlin of Arizona has done a comprehensive assessment of this mitre and performed conservation and restoration work. 

Here are some excerpts from Turner Laughlin's restoration work:

"I believe this mitre to be one of the last of its kind, preserved by the regiment for Honor or Legacy presentations.  By the 1880s, it was more than century old, was looking a little ratty, so was sent to a military hatter for repair.  That's when the old stiffeners and lining were removed and replaced with the cork and Berlin (both materials were all the rage in the '80s)."

"Inferred Provenance: see Artifact Interpretation

Artifact Description: Green woolen mitre, with extensive, artful hand embroidery, woolen lace, woolen soutache, and puff-pompon. Body is constructed of an almost lime-green, doeskin-finished facing wool, of high quality. Embroidery is executed in off-white cable-laid silk upon a cardstock cutout base/filler to add relief. Frontal ornamentation consists of a British imperial crown, flanked by scrollwork; a blue woolen applique representation of the Order of the Garter with embroidered motto “Honi Soit Qui Mal Pense,” bordered by lemon yellow soutache, and with a scarlet woolen circular center bearing the silk-embroidered initials “CR;” a lower panel of scarlet wool bordered by tubular woolen lace, bearing the embroidered motto “Nec Aspera Terrent” and bordering—on three sides—an embroidered representation of a galloping horse. Rear ornamentation consists of a bottom panel with more high-relief scrollwork, and black-bordered off-white woolen flat lace covering all sewn seams. Pompon is of off-white woolen yarn, with no core, stitched at mitre's apex. Cap's interior is a mass of sheet cork fragments, shredded polished cotton, and two types of disintegrating cotton sateen. Condition overall is poor. All woolen fabric and embroideries are infused with and discolored by coal dust and other particulates, and most seams are coming apart. Some color bleeding from scarlet lower panels. Woolen lace is shredded at high points and in many other areas, with a patch of lace entirely missing above the “Nec Aspera” motto. Interior is a near-incomprehensible and filthy mass of fragments and shreds.

All original seams--both structural and for affixing ornamentation--are handsewn with both silk and cotton thread. Some seams on replacement components (see Artifact Interpretation) are handstitched, while others were executed on a sewing machine. The cap's structure and layout points to subcontracted work, including professional embroidery followed by inexpert cottage assembly. The latter manufacture was tackled by one who was likely numerically illiterate: nothing in the cap's assembly is symmetrical, and all measurements appear to have been “eyeballed.”

Artifact Interpretation: Classic British military mitre, worn by a member of the Grenadier Company, 2nd “Queen's Own” Regiment of Foot, manufactured between 1727 and 1743. Reid and Hook in British Redcoat, 1740-1793 (London: Reed Books, [Osprey Warrior Series], 1996) offer a nutshell view of the martial mitre's development: “Originally the mitre was simply a stocking cap with a small turn-up at front and rear--the 'little flap,' but by the 1740s the whole cap was stitched together and a degree of stiffening provided for the now combined front and 'little flap,' in order that the cap stood upright. It appears, however, that this attempt to smarten it up was frustrated by the grenadiers'

Significantly, the milliners also trimmed away the now-excess original green and scarlet fabric--a band perhaps 3/4” wide--along the cap's bottom as part of this effort at symmetry. After the reconstruction, most of the cap's wear--including some bleeding of the non-colorfast scarlet fabric at the mitre's bottom (positioned against a wearer's brow)--appears to have occurred in this period of secondary use.

Tertiary use was evidently as a display item, likely in a home, then retirement to storage. And these dispositions occasioned a final, superficial modification to the mitre, plus more deterioration. Perhaps sometime after Victoria's reign, the cap's cork stiffening began to disintegrate--which is typical for aged sheets of this material. As a stopgap, evidently in an attempt to keep cork fragments from littering the home's mantlepiece, someone who was not adept at sewing handstitched a short black cotton sateen bag to the mitre's lower edge. (By the time the cap was received for treatment, this century-old addition had also begun to fall apart). Once the cap became too disreputable for display, it was retired to an attic or basement in a structure utilizing coal for heating. Lying face-up on a horizontal surface, the mitre became infused with coal dust and soot, permanently discoloring all surfaces--but especially its front. The presence of sulfuric acid in this environment faded the bright green and rotted the cap's handstitched seams, as well as the stitching securing lace trim. Too, it appears to have rendered the single layer lace brittle, and prone to disintegration. Remarkably, the woolen facing fabric, as well as the woolen yarn pompon remained rot-free, though discolored.  

When examined for treatment, and especially once the several layers of intrusive lining were removed, it became readily apparent that the only possible course for restoration and reconstruction would be separation of the cap into its component parts and complete rebuilding--in as gentle and unobtrusive a fashion as possible.  

Treatment Details

Note: All materials employed in conservation and reconstruction were of museum/archival quality, including filtered water, and pH-neutral soaps, paints, varnishes, and adhesives. All thread used in restoring the cap was pure cotton and silk, usually of pre-WWII vintage. Wherever use of materials is mentioned, we will avoid redundancy, and permit the reader to infer “archival quality” or “pH neutral.”

Condition: Cap interior littered with cotton fabric swatches and cork fragments.  

Action: Remove all intrusions, documenting the removal of layers via photography, and archiving the salvaged materials for retention by owner.

Condition: Thread securing structural seams rotten, seams failing.

Action: Remove remaining threads and disassemble cap. Archive all retrieved thread fragments.

Condition: Thread securing ornaments is rotten, appliques and lace are in danger of falling off cap.

Action: Remove ornaments and pompon, archive thread fragments, and document disassembly with photographs.


Photography: All actions were extensively photographed. Compact disk is included with this report.

References: After extensive research, it eventually became apparent that eighteenth century British mitres are poorly documented and no contemporary scholar could be classed as expert in the topic. A very brief but helpful article by Robert Henderson, titled “The British Grenadiers and Their Mitre Caps” is readily available through several sources online, and appears to contain no factual errors or assumptions. The same cannot be said of Matthew Keagle's paper, “This is the Cap of Honor,” presented at the Material Matters Conference. Also easily accessed online, this piece is a pseudo-academic take on the topic, which borders on the absurd in some of its assumptions and claims. The previously-cited work, British Redcoat, contains some additional discussion and fine illustrations of mitres and the uniforms with which they were worn. Too, an online survey of Google's “Images of British Grenadier Mitres” is instructive. The very few remaining examples of this type--several of which are militia, and most of which are officers'--provide interesting comparisons. The various reproductions depicted online appear to be universally bad.  

Artifact's Significance: Our researches indicate that this mitre is one of perhaps a dozen known original British Army examples dating to the eighteenth century. Of that number, few are enlisted versions, and no other examples from the Queen's Own Regiment appear to have survived. Too, the fact that this restoration project entailed complete disassembly of an original cap enabled rare opportunities for study. This documentation--pertinent especially to the construction of accurate reproductions--is now housed in the Turner, Laughlin & Associates archive."




BEFORE

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Moriers paintings, 1751. 2nd Queens Regiment is in the centre in the first picture.

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You've given us a valuable lesson in restoration of artifacts bordering on the 'priceless' range. Very informative. Thank you for sharing. Mike. 

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I was intrigued by the 'some blleding of scarlet', which suggests moisture/water damage, but later in the assessment the conservator suggest that this cap was in fact being 'worn' 100-200 years afer its manufacture.  Godd bless the stingy old Quartermaster.  Or, God rot, depending on one's view.  A truly signiifcant piece and I suspect that most/all conservators would agree that the work done on it was a necessary evil.  

As an example, the huge US flags on display at several historic US forts, including the infamous 'star spangled banner' at Ft McHenry, have been 'stablized', so that what the viewer sees is dirty, torn and full of holes, a few caused by shot an shell and most due to age.  The impression one is left with is quite inaccurate as to what it would have looked like in use but has the virtue that the flags are unarguable 'original'.  In this case, the repairs are clearly part of the history or the artifact,as much as is the original manufacture and pretty obviously nevessary if one is not to wind up in a decade or two with a collection of cloth scraps.

But I ramble; my major failing!  Thank you for sharing, Mike and I hope you enjoy this wonderful piece when it arrives! 

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Please excuse me for posting another very long block of text, but I now have a complete copy of the conservation record.  I only had excerpts before.  

There are some additional passages that provide the conservator's analysis / theory of how the cap came to be in its current configuration, very interesting.

 He has considered:

- the original card and cane frame had been removed but the imprints and wear from the original frame were evident

- the bottom edge of the cap had been folded under and some material 1/2 - 3/4" had been trimmed away, after which a new stiffener and liner had been fitted. He assessed that the replacement liner had been fitted in the latter half of the 19th  Century because the liner/stiffener construction  (cork sheet sandwiched between layers of cotton and sateen) was typical of milliners of that period.

- some time later as the replacement liner deteriorated, another liner was crudely fitted to prevent debris falling out of the hat.  

I think his dating is about right - not earlier than 1727, when the Queen's monogram was approved for use. But his 'not later than 1743' based on direction that it should have 'GR' after that date is, I believe incorrect.   From my research so far, the Queens Regiment continued to wear the 'CR' monogram after 1743, and the 1751 Warrant specifically says that 2nd Regiment wears the Queens cipher.  It doesn't show the features of the 1751 Warrant: red upper rear panel, grenade emblem, regimental number in the rear.  So, it is probably not earlier than 1727, definitely not later than 1751, and probably significantly earlier as it is missing many of those later features. 1730s perhaps.

 

Here is the full conservation report:

 

 

 

 

CONSERVATION/RECONSTRUCTION RECORD

Object:  Original British Grenadier's Mitre, 1727-1743

Date:  30 May 2013

Inferred Provenance:  see Artifact Interpretation

Artifact Description:  Green woolen mitre, with extensive, artful hand embroidery, woolen lace, woolen soutache, and puff-pompon.  Body is constructed of an almost lime-green, doeskin-finished facing wool, of high quality.  Embroidery is executed in off-white cable-laid silk upon a cardstock cutout base/filler to add relief.  Frontal ornamentation consists of a British imperial crown, flanked by scrollwork; a blue woolen applique representation of the Order of the Garter with embroidered motto “Honi Soit Qui Mal Pense,” bordered by lemon yellow soutache, and with a scarlet woolen circular center bearing the silk-embroidered  initials “CR;” a lower panel of scarlet wool bordered by tubular woolen lace, bearing the embroidered motto “Nec Aspera Terrent” and bordering—on three sides—an embroidered representation of a galloping horse.  Rear ornamentation consists of a bottom panel with more high-relief scrollwork, and black-bordered off-white woolen flat lace covering all sewn seams.  Pompon is of off-white woolen yarn, with no core, stitched at mitre's apex.  Cap's interior is a mass of sheet cork fragments, shredded polished cotton, and two types of disintegrating cotton sateen.  Condition overall is poor.  All woolen fabric and embroideries are infused with and discolored by coal dust and other particulates, and most seams are coming apart.  Some color bleeding from scarlet lower panels.  Woolen lace is shredded at high points and in many other areas, with a patch of lace entirely missing above the “Nec Aspera” motto.  Interior is a near-incomprehensible and filthy mass of fragments and shreds.

All original seams--both structural and for affixing ornamentation--are handsewn with both silk and cotton thread.  Some seams on replacement components (see Artifact Interpretation) are handstitched, while others were executed on a sewing machine.  The cap's structure and layout points to subcontracted work, including professional embroidery followed by inexpert cottage assembly.  The latter manufacture was tackled by one who was likely numerically illiterate:  nothing in the cap's assembly is symmetrical, and all measurements appear to have been “eyeballed.”

Artifact Interpretation:  Classic British military mitre, worn by a member of the Grenadier Company, 2nd “Queen's Own” Regiment of Foot, manufactured between 1727 and 1743.  Reid and Hook in British Redcoat, 1740-1793 (London:  Reed Books, [Osprey Warrior Series], 1996) offer a nutshell view of the martial mitre's development:  “Originally the mitre was simply a stocking cap with a small turn-up at front and rear--the 'little flap,' but by the 1740s the whole cap was stitched together and a degree of stiffening provided for the now combined front and 'little flap,' in order that the cap stood upright.   It 
appears, however, that this attempt to smarten it up was frustrated by the grenadiers'


CONSERVATION/RECONSTRUCTION RECORD--30MAY13, p. 2 of 5
            
continued insistence on jamming it on to their heads as though it was still the stocking cap that had been adopted by assault troops in the previous century as a more practical alternative to the wide-brimmed hat.”  Eventually, the “degree of stiffening” mentioned was rendered more rigid by the addition of an interior framework of cardboard and cane, and this piece is likely one of the earliest examples extant which was originally crafted with that structural refinement.

Fairly accurate dating is permitted by one of the cap's frontal ornaments.  The “CR” initials within the Order of the Garter representation are for Caroline Regina—Caroline of Ansbach, who ascended the throne in 1727.  Previously, Caroline was the Princess of Wales, and her namesake regiment was styled “The Princess of Wales Own Regiment of Foot.”  In 1727 the unit was renamed, for obvious reasons, “The Queen's Own Regiment of Foot.”  The upper end of the dating bracket is provided by the Royal Warrant of 1743, which decreed that thereafter all grenadier mitres would bear the initials of then King George (previous to this regulation, regimental commanders were free to mandate whatever they wished to decorate their regiments' fusilier and grenadier cap's fronts in the cypher's location).  This pattern of mitre was completely supplanted in service by the bearskin adopted under the Warrant of 1768.  Hence, this cap could only have been manufactured between 1727 and 1743, though its use may have continued for a year or two past the 1743 Warrant.

The motto of the Order of the Garter, “Honi Soit Qui Mal y Pense,” is French, and is variously interpreted as “Shamed be he who thinks evil of it,” and “Shame on him who thinks ill of it.”  The other motto, “Nec Aspera Terrent,” in the squared arc above the galloping horse, is Latin, and interpretations in military usage can wax ridiculous.  The most commonly accepted by scholars are:  “Difficulties be damned,” and “Nor do hardships terrify.”  The running mount is the Hanoverian Horse, imported to Britain along with the monarchs of that house.  The horse and “Nec Aspera” motto were more or less standardized--fixtures on most, if not all, British mitres of the 1740s.  Not so universally used was the heraldic “wreath”, representing an elongated twist of black and yellow cloth typically seen atop medieval helms.  This device sometimes provides the ground upon which the Hanoverian Horse runs, but there was absolutely no evidence of its presence on this mitre.   

The Queen's Own Regiment enjoyed a tranquil eighteenth century, with its London-based garrison duty interrupted only by rare musters to suppress the occasional riot.  Perhaps such local service explains this mitre's survival--and in relatively good condition.  However, the piece experienced a period of secondary usage, either as a displayed artifact or--far more likely--worn in regimental Tradition Ceremonies in the mid-to-late nineteenth century.  This history is well-chronicled through interpretation of the cap's interior lining and other modifications.

When targeted for re-use, perhaps 125 to 150 years after its original service life, the mitre was refitted at a military milliners, probably in London.  At that time, its original strawboard-and-cane interior framework and original lining had likely deteriorated, and the military hatters removed it.  They crafted a replacement front-stiffener of sheet cork (as used in the manufacture of Victorian tropical and fulldress helmets) and substitute interior lining of polished cotton and cotton sateen (typically employed in that era's uniform linings).  All these materials would have been commonplace--and inexpensive--in any uniform supplier's shop of the period.  The cotton fabrics formed a two-layer lining, machine-sewn into a basic bag-shape, then anchored by handstitching through some portions of the front's ornamental panels and along its lower border.  At the same time, the hatters attempted to render the cap more symmetrical in appearance by folding under the lower portion of the front panel.  This modification did level the “Nec Aspera” panel, but also concealed the final “T” in “Terrent.”   

CONSERVATION/RECONSTRUCTION RECORD-, 30MAY13, p. 3 of 5

Significantly, the milliners also trimmed away the now-excess original green and scarlet fabric--a band perhaps 3/4” wide--along the cap's bottom as part of this effort at symmetry.  After the reconstruction, most of the cap's wear--including some bleeding of the non-colorfast scarlet fabric at the mitre's bottom (positioned against a wearer's brow)--appears to have occurred in this period of secondary use.

Tertiary use was evidently as a display item, likely in a home, then retirement to storage.  And these dispositions occasioned a final, superficial modification to the mitre, plus more deterioration.  Perhaps sometime after Victoria's reign, the cap's cork stiffening began to disintegrate--which is typical for aged sheets of this material.  As a stopgap, evidently in an attempt to keep cork fragments from littering the home's mantlepiece, someone who was not adept at sewing handstitched a short black cotton sateen bag to the mitre's lower edge.  (By the time the cap was received for treatment, this century-old addition had also begun to fall apart).  Once the cap became too disreputable for display, it was retired to an attic or basement in a structure utilizing coal for heating.  Lying face-up on a horizontal surface, the mitre became infused with coal dust and soot, permanently discoloring all surfaces--but especially its front.  The presence of sulfuric acid in this environment faded the bright green and rotted the cap's handstitched seams, as well as the stitching securing lace trim.  Too, it appears to have rendered the single layer lace brittle, and prone to disintegration.  Remarkably, the woolen facing fabric, as well as the woolen yarn pompon remained rot-free, though discolored.  

When examined for treatment, and especially once the several layers of intrusive lining were removed, it became readily apparent that the only possible course for restoration and reconstruction would be separation of the cap into its component parts and complete rebuilding--in as gentle and unobtrusive a fashion as possible.               

Treatment Details

Note:  All materials employed in conservation and reconstruction were of museum/archival quality, including filtered water, and pH-neutral soaps, paints, varnishes, and adhesives.  All thread used in restoring the cap was pure cotton and silk, usually of pre-WWII vintage.  Wherever use of materials is mentioned, we will avoid redundancy, and permit the reader to infer “archival quality” or “pH neutral.”

Condition:  Cap interior littered with cotton fabric swatches and cork fragments.  

Action:  Remove all intrusions, documenting the removal of layers via photography, and archiving the salvaged materials for retention by owner.

Condition:  Thread securing structural seams rotten, seams failing.

Action:  Remove remaining threads and disassemble cap.  Archive all retrieved thread fragments.

Condition:  Thread securing ornaments is rotten, appliques and lace are in danger of falling off cap.

Action:  Remove ornaments and pompon, archive thread fragments, and document disassembly with photographs.

Condition:  All components soiled with coal dust and other contaminants.  

CONSERVATION/RECONSTRUCTION RECORD, p. 4 of 5

Action:  Test for colorfastness.  Handwash colorfast green woolen fabric and undyed pompon with pure soap and rinse.  Rinse non-colorfast fabrics, including the scarlet and blue facing materials in mineral spirits.  Note:  multiple rinsings were employed, whether of filtered water or mineral spirits.  

Condition:  Regimental lace--consisting of a 3/8” off-white woolen strip, bordered on one side with a woven-in black yarn “worm” on one edge—is tattered, frayed, and incapable of consolidation or longterm preservation.  [Owner consulted.]

Action:  Craft replacement lace, of authentic 100% woolen tape, bordered with handstitched black Angora yarn, and overdye a light pearl gray to match the color of other previously-white components.  

Condition:  Lemon yellow soutache bordering Order of the Garter insignia disintegrated upon removal from cap.

Action:  Overdye replacement soutache of authentic 100% wool in correct lemon yellow hue.

Condition:  Tubular lace bordering “Nec Aspera” motto frayed in several locations; missing portion at right, above running horse.

Action:  Secure frayed portions with extensive handstitching; add patch of original nineteenth century tubular lace.

Condition:  All structural and ornamental components now separate.

 Action:  Handsew ornamentation to front panel.  Handstitch the cap's three main panels together, using original stitch-holes wherever possible, and notes on sewing patterns and stitch lengths taken at time of disassembly.  Handsew regimental lace atop seams.  Handstitch pompon at cap's apex.

Condition:  Fabric missing at base of front panel (cut away as part of the nineteenth century reconstruction).  

Action:  Salvage green fabric from seam overlap of upper rear panel with lower; trim and transplant to cap front's lower edge.  Secure with handsewn blind seam, backed with woolen tape.  Use scarlet fabric salvaged from a nineteenth century British uniform to extend running horse and “Nec Aspera” panels; blindstitch and back, as with the green facing material.  Replace salvaged fabric at seam with new.

Condition:  Mitre's original strawboard-and-cane stiffening frame removed during nineteenth century reconstruction.  Materials substituted at that time now disintegrated.  

Action:  Construct replacement frame of museum board (a pH-neutral substitute for the original, highly acidic strawboard) and Spanish cane.  Use woolen panel dimensions, seams, and wear patterns as a guide for this construction's dimensions.  Paint finished frame with acrylics, then create an acid barrier via application of four coats of Polyurethane varnish.   Friction-fit frame within mitre.  Note:  Although it seems strange the the top two inches of lace-covered side-seams are concealed behind the front panel's apex, this placement is mandated by the shapes and placements dictated by original seams and wear patterns.  In short, this is exactly how the original appeared.

CONSERVATION/RECONSTRUCTION RECORD, 30MAY13, p. 5 of 5

Condition:  Lining.absent.

Action:  Construct lining of vintage natural Belgian linen, of appropriate weight and weave, handwashed before use.  Handstitch in place with running stitch around perimeter using vintage linen thread.  Note:  the lining's two structural seams and single dart were machine-sewn with cotton-wrapped polyester thread in a blindstitch, to avoid any potential for confusion by future examiners.

Final Action:  Steam, bone, and towel overall.

Photography:  All actions were extensively photographed.  Compact disk is included with this report.

References:  After extensive research, it eventually became apparent that eighteenth century British mitres are poorly documented and no contemporary scholar could be classed as expert in the topic.  A very brief but helpful article by Robert Henderson, titled “The British Grenadiers and Their Mitre Caps” is readily available through several sources online, and appears to contain no factual errors or assumptions.  The same cannot be said of Matthew Keagle's paper, “This is the Cap of Honor,” presented at the Material Matters Conference.  Also easily accessed online, this piece is a pseudo-academic take on the topic, which borders on the absurd in some of its assumptions and claims.  The previously-cited work, British Redcoat, contains some additional discussion and fine illustrations of mitres and the uniforms with which they were worn.  Too, an online survey of Google's “Images of British Grenadier Mitres” is instructive.  The very few remaining examples of this type--several of which are militia, and most of which are officers'--provide interesting comparisons.  The various reproductions depicted online appear to be universally bad.    

Artifact's Significance:  Our researches indicate that this mitre is one of perhaps a dozen known original British Army examples dating to the eighteenth century.  Of that number, few are enlisted versions, and no other examples from the Queen's Own Regiment appear to have survived.  Too, the fact that this restoration project entailed complete disassembly of an original cap enabled rare opportunities for study.  This documentation--pertinent especially to the construction of accurate reproductions--is now housed in the Turner, Laughlin & Associates archive.

Conservation Recommendations:  Given this piece's extreme rarity, physical security--protection against theft--assumes more significance than is typically the case.  Aside from this protection, every effort has been made to ensure that this mitre survives for another two or three centuries.  So long as the usual cautions about lighting, handling, and fluctuations in temperature and humidity are observed, this piece should require no maintenance into the indefinite future.

 

And some more photos of the various additional liners added over the last couple of hundred years.

 

 

_____________________________________

 

 

 

 

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ID: 15   Posted (edited)

" The cap's structure and layout points to subcontracted work, including professional embroidery followed by inexpert cottage assembly.  The latter manufacture was tackled by one who was likely numerically illiterate:  nothing in the cap's assembly is symmetrical, and all measurements appear to have been “eyeballed.”

How very like the British military!

A very complete report and it certainly looks, if an amateur with a little training may offer an opinion, as if he did the right thing and used the correct materials and techniques.  Truly an item to be treasured!

Edited by peter monahan

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ID: 16   Posted (edited)

.

Edited by Flasheart

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ID: 17   Posted (edited)

Guys,

I now have the Queens Regiment Mitre in hand and have taken some high-res photos of the mitre and the conserved components that were removed in the restoration by Turner Laughlin & Associates.  These photos were taken in natural light so more accurately reflect the colours of the mitre.  I have also taken hi-res photos of the lace and soutache material.

Note that the conservator removed the original regimental wool lace and the yellow soutache from around the garter and replaced them with new, similar. Material.  The original material has all been preserved and could be restored to the cap.

The cotton and cork liner/stiffener components have also been preserved. The conservator considered that the original strawboard and cane frame must have deteriorated and, some time in the second half of the 19th century, it must have been removed, and replaced with the cotton and cork stiffener/liner seen here. This cotton/cork liner were not part of the original construction and were added at the same time as the base of the mitre was trimmed and folded under, thereby hiding the last 'T' in TERRENT. 

I have more than 300 hats, helmets and headgear in my collection, many of which date to the mid-19th century.  My impression of this mitre cap is that it is much older than my 19th century pieces, particularly as evidenced by the old cotton and cork liner.  I have also done a lot of research since finding this hat. It is a close match for those depicted in the David Morier paintings.

 

Hi-res mitre photos:

 

 

FRONT

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FRONT LEFT

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FULL LEFT

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¾ LEFT

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REAR

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¾ RIGHT

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FULL RIGHT

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¼ RIGHT

IMG_4281.jpg

 

 

Edited by Flasheart

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ID: 19   Posted (edited)

WHITE HORSE OF HANOVER IN SILK EMBROIDERY

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CARD STOCK BENEATH EMBROIDERY

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GRENADE EMBROIDERY

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GARTER

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GARTER

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‘LITTLE FLAP’

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CROWN EMBROIDERY

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Here are the items the conservator removed from the cap.  The lace pattern and style should be recognisable. Does anyone have references for 18th C Regimental lace?

CONSERVED ARTEFACTS FROM RESTORATION

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REGIMENTAL WOOL LACE

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LEMON COLOURED SOUTACHE FROM GARTER

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SOUTACHE

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REGIMENTAL LACE – INSIDE FACE

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REGIMENTAL LACE OUTER FACE

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CONSERVED STITCHES

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19th CENTURY  COTTON AND CORK LINER COMPONENTS

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19th C COTTON LINER

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COTTON LINER

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19th C COTTON SATEEN AND CORK STIFFENER FROM FRONT OF CAP

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Edited by Flasheart

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truly a stunning and historical item of headgear. I think in the end it is hard not to see this as an extensively restored original.

I dread to wonder how much one of these costs to buy and how much the restoration cost.

 

thanks for sharing it and all the information and pictures.

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  I've followed this thread from the start and have enjoyed the journey from beginning to end. Very enlightening and interesting. Thanks. 

   I don't know how eager I would be to wear such a hat into battle, though. 

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The hat would be the least of your problems.......

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ID: 23   Posted (edited)

Guys, 

                  

There seems to be some interest in this grenadier mitre, so I thought I would share my research to date - it will also help me to get it all in one place. Accurate detailed information on grenadier mitre caps is scarce. There are some 18th Century pictureboard dummies and David Morier's paintings, and there are the Royal Clothing warrants and some written records that provide clues.  Most of the modern interpretations appear to be derived from Morier's paintings of grenadiers of all the British infantry regiments, which were done sometime between 1751 and 1770.

 

There seems to be very few surviving grenadier mitres, at least from what I have gleaned from internet research.  The British National Army Museum has about a dozen surviving mitres, but they are all officers Caps except for a post-1751 enlisted 49th Regiment Mitre.   There are probably others in private collections but I have not found them through internet searches. There do not seem to be any definitive studies on the construction and materials of 18th Century mitres.  There is a good article in 'Military Modelling, January 1987', but none of the papers or articles do any more than repeat the Royal Clothing Warrants or describe the David Morier paintings.  By far the most detailed study of 18th Century Mitre caps, although Prussian rather British, is in Verlag publications:  'Frederick the Great: The Uniforms of the Prussian Army under Frederick the Great from 1740 to 1786'.   This contains detailed photos of more than 200 surviving 18C Prussian uniforms and maybe 30 surviving Mitre caps.  Very useful for materials, lace patterns, construction methods etc.

 

All of the images of 18th Century British grenadier Mitre caps I have found are posted to this Pinterest board:

 

  http://pin.it/W8Nu56i

 

 

This is somewhat of an essay, but the bottom line is that the cap is post 1727 and pre-1751. It almost but not quite conforms to the 1751 Warrant that standardised British Army uniforms and provided numbers to the previously unnumbered regiments. The Morier paintaings show the mitre caps in the post-1751 configuration, but very very close to this one.

 

 

BRIEF HISTORY OF THE QUEENS OWN (2ND) ROYAL REGIMENT OF FOOT)

 

The Regiment is the oldest English line Infantry Regiment in the British Army as it was first raised in 1661 as The Earl of Peterborough’s Regiment of Foot, by Henry Mordaunt 2nd Earl of Peterborough. The newly-restored King Charles II agreed to marry Catherine of Braganza and gained possession of Portuguese territories of Bombay and Tangier as part of her Dowry in return for her religious freedom and military support for Portugal against Spain. The Regiment was raised to garrison Tangier and defend against the Moors, also becoming known as the Tangier Regiment, remaining in Tangier for 23 years.

 

Upon its return to England (due to financial pressures Charles II chose to abandon Tangier) it was granted the Royal title of the Queen Dowager’s Regiment of Foot. After the King’s death the crown passed to his brother King James II, who only reigned for only 3 years due to his unpopular Catholic convictions, in Protestant England. However, the Regiment was soon in action for its new King at the Battle of Sedgemoor during the Monmouth Rebellion (1685), when James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth (the oldest of Charles II illegitimate sons and the current King’s nephew) unsuccessfully attempted to overthrow King James II. Four year later it would be fighting against the King at the Battle of Boyne, following the Glorious Revolution of 1688, when Prince William of Orange was invited to take the throne by the English Lords becoming King William III and deposing James II.

 

The Regiment went on to serve during the Spanish War of Succession (1701–1714) fighting at Cadiz, Vigo, the sieges of Valencia de Alcantara, Alburquerque, Badajoz, Alcantara and Ciudad Rodrigo, and at the disastrous Battle of Almansa where the Regiment was virtually destroyed. In 1703 the Regiment confirmed its reputation for tenacity and courage at the Battle of Tongres, where 40,000 French troops were held at bay by the Regiment and one Dutch Battalion for 28 hours until reinforcements arrived. For this action it was awarded the title ‘Royal’ to become The Queen's Royal Regiment of Foot.

 

In 1715, the Regiment was renamed ‘The Princess of Wales's Own Regiment of Foot’ after Caroline of Ansbach, Princess of Wales. In 1727 it once again became the Queen’s Regiment with the ascension of the Princess of Wales to Queen Caroline, queen-consort to George II. In 1751 it was ranked as 2nd Foot and renamed the ‘2nd (The Queen's Royal) Regiment of Foot’.

 

1661 The Earl of Peterborough’s Regiment of Foot

1662 The Tangier Regiment

1715 The Princess of Wales's Own Regiment of Foot (the Princess of Wales was Caroline of Ansbach)

1727  The Queen’s Regiment

1751 2nd (The Queen's Royal) Regiment of Foot

Later it became the Royal Surrey Regiment and is today part of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, so back to its pre-1727 regimental title.

 

 

COUNTY HOTEL CARLISLE PICTUREBOARD DUMMIES. 

 

There are several records of pictureboard dummies (LifeSize painted cutouts that were very popular in the 18th Century, and were thought to be either recruiting devices or portraits of soldiers living  in English towns). 

 

In the DECEMBER, 1890 of the Archaeological Journal, R. S. FERGUSON F.S.A. (Chancellor of Carlisle.) provided a paper on the PICTURE BOARD DUMMIES AT THE COUNTY HOTEL, CARLISLE.  These two dummies represent grenadiers of the Princess of Wales's Own Regiment of Foot as they would have appeared between 1715 (when it became the Princess of Wales's Own Regiment of Foot - hence the three feathers in the mitre cap) and 1727 (when it became the The Queen’s Regiment - and gained the Queens 'CR' monogram on the mitre).  Note that the facings are 'sea green' which was recognised as the Queen's colour. The Queen still frequently wears this colour today.

 

 

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The Carlisle dummies are also discussed in detail in 'The History of the Queens Royal Regiment' Vol 2 1718-1799, published in 1895, with illustration depicted below.

 

 

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Pictures of the Carlisle dummies are also recorded on the Queens Royal Surrey Regiment website.    Note that this picture is the same dummy as that recorded by Ferguson in 1890 and the 1895 History, however it shows blue facings rather than sea green.  I don't know why two painters have depicted the same pictureboard dummy with such dramatically different features and colours, except the the regiment's facing colour became blue after 1768, so maybe the artist was correcting what he thought was an error??

 

 

 

IMG_3703.png

 

 

 

The next reference point is 1727 when George II ascended to the throne and Princess Caroline became Queen Caroline.  At this point the grenadiers of the Queens Regiment were approved to wear the Queens cipher 'CR' and the Queens crown on the front of their new Mitre caps with sea green facing and a red 'little flap.  1727 is therefore the earliest possible date for this grenadier mitre.

 

IMG_3723.png

 

 

The next reference point is the 1751 Royal Clothing Warrant, which set down, standardised configurations for uniforms and banned regimental colonels from using their own symbols on uniforms.  This was also the first stipulation of regimental numbering, so the Queens Regiment now became the '2nd Regiment of Foot'. The key changes to grenadier mitres were that the front of the mitre was to be in the facing colour of the Regiment (for 2nd Regiment this was 'sea green'), the 'little flap' at the front was to be red, the upper rear of the mitre was to be red, and they were all to have the Kings cipher ('GR') and kings crown, except for the 2nd Regiment which was allowed the Queens cipher ('CR') and the Queens crown.

 

An extract from the 1751 Warrant is provided below.  This is also the pattern represented in the David Morier painting, as depicted below. In 1768, grenadiers in all regiments changed to the bearskin mitre and the Queens Regiment facing colour changed to blue.

 

This mitre largely conforms to the 1751 Royal Warrant except:  the upper rear of the cap is also sea green, and the regimental number is not depicted on the rear band because the regiments did not have numbers when it was made. Therefore the cap is pre-1751 Royal Warrant. 1751 represents the latest possible date for this mitre cap, and it was probably some years earlier given at the Royal Warrant was capturing changes that had already been widely incorporated.

 

Sometime in the bracket 1727-1740 would be logical.  For most of this period, the Regiment was garrisoning Gibraltar (1730-1749), after which it redeployed to Ireland until 1765, then to the Isle of Mann til 1768, then to Gibraltar until 1775.

 

Most likely the mitre cap was issued to a grenadier whilst the Regiment was in garrison in Gibraltar, I don't have any data on whether all Clothing was drawn from regimental depots or whether it was manufactured locally

 

 

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EXTRACT FROM THE KINGS ROYAL CLOTHING WARRANT OF 1751

 

"The front of the Grenadiers' Caps to be the same Colour as the facing of the Regiment, with the King's Cypher embroidered, and Crown over it; the little Flap to be Red, with the White Horse and Motto over it, "Nec aspera terrent"; the back part of the Cap to be Red; the turn-up to be the Colour of the Front; with the Number of the Regiment in the middle part behind. - The Royal Regiments, and the Six Old Corps, differ from the fore-going Rule as specified hereafter."

 

Devices and Badges of the Royal Regiments, and of the Six Old Corps.

 

"2nd Regiment, or The Queen's Royal Regiment. - In the centre of each Colour the Queen's Cypher on a Red Ground, within the Garter, and Crown over it. - In the three corners of the Second Colour, the Lamb, being the ancient Badge of the Regiment.

 

On the Grenadier Caps, the Queen's Cypher (CR) and Crown, as in the Colours; White Horse and motto "Nec asperra terrent" on the Flap.

 

The Drums and Bells of Arms to have the Queen's Cypher painted on them in the same manner, and the Rank of the Regiment underneath."

 

 

MILITARY MODELLING MAGAZINE JANUARY 1987 ARTICLE

 

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Edited by Flasheart

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Thanks Flash heart for posting this reference material.

This question is slighty off topic but  I notice that the Fosten article nor any other commentary refers to the  decorative fronds flanking the  badges on the front of the grenadier caps illustrated. These  vary considerably in form and seem in the case of some regiments to represent something more specific, in the colour of leaves, buds or fruit as it may be. e.g. the 6th, 17th and 32nd  Regiment examples.

Anyone care to hazard a guess as how we might describe  these decorative elements?

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JF42,  

All of those drawings in the Carman/Fosten article are derived from David Morier's paintings, which now reside in the Queen's collection.   The paintings record the uniforms of grenadiers of all(?) the regiments in the British Army, and were apparently commissioned by the Duke of Cumberland.  They were completed sometime between 1751-1770.

Morier depicted the decorative embroidery (vines?) in various ways, including with fruit and or green leaves.  That doesn't necessarily mean that he actually saw the mitre caps from every unit and painted them exactly as they were manufactured.  Almost none of those enlisted mitres have survived, so we have no way of knowing if they are meticulously accurate representations of what the grenadiers were wearing, or whether he only knew the regulation facing colour and regulation emblem and used artistic licence to fill in the rest of the details.  

Here are the Morier paintings of grenadiers of the 6th, 17th and 32nd Regiments:

 

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IMG_3737.PNG

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