I.d for possible military tunic?

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I.d for possible military tunic?

Postby Frankjersey » 29 Mar 2017 14:19

Hello. Im new here so please forgive my shortcomings as a new pister. Thank you for accepting me and my questions as Im not very familiar with british Victorian uniforms. I recently saw thid jacket which while not possesing military buttons does share some characteristics even if vaguely with a royal engineers tunic. Attached are some pictures. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Even to know if its military at all.
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Re: I.d for possible military tunic?

Postby Frogsmile » 29 Mar 2017 16:55

Yes, it is Victorian and a Royal Engineer's officers' pattern "shell jacket". The RE pattern had hook and eye fastening and dark blue velvet facings (collar and cuffs). It was an undress (working) garment and, as well as worn for day-to-day routine duty in barracks, it was also used for dinner (at mess) in the evenings, albeit usually left open except at the base of the neck and with matching, but contrasting waistcoat underneath. I would date it to around 1880. It was eventually replaced by a blue frock coat, although a very similar garment was also retained as a mess dress jacket.
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Relic of many a fight and siege and sack, it points a moral and adorns the back.
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Re: I.d for possible military tunic?

Postby Frankjersey » 01 Apr 2017 17:14

Awesome. Thanks for the knowledge. Much obliged.
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Re: I.d for possible military tunic?

Postby Frankjersey » 02 Apr 2017 22:39

Is it traditionally supposed to be without insignia and are there original type buttons to be sought to put in it. Just curious. Thanks.
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Re: I.d for possible military tunic?

Postby Frogsmile » 02 Apr 2017 23:02

Frankjersey wrote:Is it traditionally supposed to be without insignia and are there original type buttons to be sought to put in it. Just curious. Thanks.


Buttons just on the shoulder straps. Rank indicated by cuff braiding I think, but I need to check. From memory divided into three grades: subalterns, captains and field officers. The jackets were modified at various times. I enclose one circa 1860 and another (for mess use only) from after the changes of 1881, when rank badges were placed on the shoulder cords.

Some interesting dress regulations are described here, although the Victorian language makes some parts hard to understand: http://www.royalengineers.ca/redressreg57.html
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Re: I.d for possible military tunic?

Postby margaretb » 04 Apr 2017 13:30

Hello, I am a new member, researching my Great Grandfather who was in theArmy Service corps from 1870? until 1885, when he died in Suakin. Do you have photos of the unifrom he may have worn he was a Sgt. in the Pay corps when he died, thank you . look forward to hearing from you, kind regards Margaret
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Re: I.d for possible military tunic?

Postby Frankjersey » 05 Apr 2017 14:50

thank you very much FrogSmile as usual a wealth of knowledge. just wondering if the different color cuffs denoted anything i.e green and blue. someone definitely replaced the shoulder buttons with newer civilian ones as well so I will be looking for authentic replacements. thanks again.
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Re: I.d for possible military tunic?

Postby Michael T » 06 Apr 2017 01:51

Three inch collar? interesting.
Last edited by Michael T on 06 Apr 2017 09:53, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: I.d for possible military tunic?

Postby Frankjersey » 06 Apr 2017 03:17

I'm not very well versed in victorian British military dress. There's endless pictures to scroll through so I've yet to come across an exact type just some rather close ones.
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Re: I.d for possible military tunic?

Postby Frogsmile » 07 Apr 2017 21:05

Michael T wrote:Three inch collar? interesting.


The original collar was very high, but the era that this specific shell jacket refers to is unclear.
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Re: I.d for possible military tunic?

Postby Frogsmile » 07 Apr 2017 21:13

Frankjersey wrote:I'm not very well versed in victorian British military dress. There's endless pictures to scroll through so I've yet to come across an exact type just some rather close ones.


If the velvet facings are green then this is not a a Royal Engineers shell jacket and the ID goes right back to the start. You did not sày it was green in your opening post. The method of construction used, with painstaking quilting to give shape to the chest, is typical of the care and attention in an officers garment and thus unlikely to be a theatrical item. The trefoil ended shoulder cord is correct for RE, but green velvet is not. For a period the scarlet shell jacket was also used by regular infantry and also militia. As records of militia uniforms are poor, it might well be that the provenance of your green faced jacket lies with the latter. Coloured facings were common to many units, but the use of velvet was limited to only a few units. More research will be required.
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Re: I.d for possible military tunic?

Postby Frankjersey » 08 Apr 2017 05:57

Thank you as always a treasure trove of knowledge. Thought the green was visible in the pics. I doubt such painstaking construction would be for anything theatrical as you've suggested and the detail is just as ornate but I do believe buttons were removed and replaced at some point. I'm no expert though. The ones present don't seem military branded and are much newer than the rest of the jacket by there appearance. Also as I've stated in messages the small size would suggest the era. Again just supposition. Here's an example of the color facings I found. Not the shell jacket type of course. Thanks again. Anything further gleaned would be appreciated.
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Re: I.d for possible military tunic?

Postby Frogsmile » 09 Apr 2017 13:35

The 2nd Dragoon Guards had dark green velvet facings and wore a shell jacket (known as a 'stable' jacket in the cavalry, but essentially the same thing) for a period from the 1870s to early 1890s as an undress (working) garment, but had a completely different style of shoulder cord/knot. It seems possible that your jacket and cords are mismatched by an unscrupulous vendor.
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Re: I.d for possible military tunic?

Postby Frankjersey » 09 Apr 2017 13:56

So wrong knots? It definitely is the period though hopefully?
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Re: I.d for possible military tunic?

Postby Frogsmile » 09 Apr 2017 14:01

Frankjersey wrote:So wrong knots? It definitely is the period though hopefully?


I think the jacket itself is genuine for the reasons I have already said, but the shoulder cord is suspect. I can't really comment on the age without handling it. Undress garments are much more difficult to date as they are poorly recorded compared with full dress.
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