Author Topic: Source of 19th Century Mohair Braid for Uniforms  (Read 10150 times)

Offline Malachi Thorne

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Source of 19th Century Mohair Braid for Uniforms
« on: May 08, 2006, 09:33:34 pm »
Good Evening, All;

For some time now, I have been researching period correct materials for the construction of an M1875-M1911 USMC Officer's Fatigue Jacket/Undress Uniform, as seen in my avatar to the left.

I found sources for the correct wool, mohair trim, olivettes (the net-bound toggles down the front) and net-bound buttons down the sides of the breast -- everything, in fact, except the mohair braid used to create the decorative frogging across the breast.  (This braid is also used to create Austrian Knots on the sleeves of Company Grade Officers)

This evening, I received a sample of braid from an English fabric supplier; and their sample is EXACTLY the same as that found on a genuine Victorian-era uniform jacket in my collection.  The new braid lays flat while being worked into tight curves as seen on the jacket in my avatar, and is actually quite reasonably priced, at just under $3 per meter.  This same braid is also used on the US Army's M1872 Officer's Blouse, to form similar frogging that terminate in trefoils.  Sounds great so far, doesn't it?

Well, here's the catch: the supplier I have found will only sell it at a minimum order of 100 meters, and a USMC officer's uniform only requires between 8-12 meters, depending on the size and rank of the officer (larger company grade officers would need more braid than smaller field grade officers).  I would guess that between 8 and 10 meters would be needed for the M1872 Army Blouse, as the braid is used for chest frogging as well as Austrian Knots on each sleeve, regardless of officer rank.  (For a picture of the M1872 Army Blouse, see the Quartermaster Shop's photo here:Link).

So, here's my question: If I purchase 100 meters of this braid, who would any of you be interested in purchasing some of my remainder; say 8+ meters at $3 the meter?

I have the honor to remain,

Your Obedient Servant,

Bvt. Captain Malachi Thorne
I have the honor to remain,

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Bvt Col. M. Thorne
Department of the Pacific

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Offline Malachi Thorne

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Re: Source of 19th Century Mohair Braid for Uniforms
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2006, 12:02:44 am »
Good Morning, River City John;

I looked at Wooded Hamlet's offerings, as well as Najecki's, and many other domestic suppliers (I've been looking for this material for quite some time now, and have gotten a lot of "samples").  The mohair the domestic suppliers have in stock is a trim material that will not lay flat while negotiating curves; it is also much too thin per the specifications of the period.  In order to follow tight curves without cocking, the braid must be made in the form of a hollow tube; this gives it the same character as that found on uniforms of the period.  The braid is very nearly 1/8" thick, just as is described in the 19th Century Specifications.

If you look carefully at my avatar, you will see that the domestic Mohair trim is used to outline the front of the coat and the collar, though...

I have the honor to remain,

Your Obedient Servant,

Bvt. Captain Malachi Thorne
I have the honor to remain,

Your Obedient Servant,

Bvt Col. M. Thorne
Department of the Pacific

"Marine Artillery brings dignity to an otherwise vulgar brawl"

Offline Malachi Thorne

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Re: Source of 19th Century Mohair Braid for Uniforms
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2006, 09:43:02 am »
Good Morning, River City John, et al;

I have uploaded a link to a .pdf with photos of the 19th Century Uniform in my collection showing the differences between the two trims.  Note that regular 1-1/4" wide Mohair Braid is used to outline the front of the coat, while the 3/8" x 1/10" thick Mohair Braid material is used for frogging across the breast, outlining pockets, and the simplified Austrian Knot on the sleeves.  The latter photo, of the Austrian Knot, shows the thickness of this braid quite clearly:

Patrol Jacket Details

Also, from the 1875 USMC Uniform Specification:

Fatigue Jacket

For Field and Company Officers:  A dark-blue cloth sack coat, cut half-close, so as to define the figure, but loose enough to allow the sword-belt to be worn underneath; skirt to be one and one-half inches shorter than the undress coat.  Standing collar, one and one-fourth inches high, rounded ends, to hook in front at the bottom; slits at the bottom of side seams six inches in length.  The edges of the sleeves, collar, front, lower border, side-slits, and back seams to be trimmed with black mohair braid one inch wide, backed by one-eighth inch black tracing-braid; to be trimmed across the breast with black mohair braid three-eighths of an inch wide and one-eighth of an inch thick, with black silk frogs, and black stuffed crochet buttons one inch in diameter, according to design.


I have the honor to remain,

Your Obedient Servant,

Bvt. Captain Malachi Thorne
I have the honor to remain,

Your Obedient Servant,

Bvt Col. M. Thorne
Department of the Pacific

"Marine Artillery brings dignity to an otherwise vulgar brawl"

Offline Pitspitr

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Re: Source of 19th Century Mohair Braid for Uniforms
« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2006, 09:50:16 am »
I think you can count me in.
I remain, Your Ob'd Servant,
Jerry M. "Pitspitr" Davenport
(Bvt.)Brigadier General Commanding,
Grand Army of the Frontier
BC/IT, Expert, Sharpshooter, Marksman, CC, SoM
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Offline Malachi Thorne

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Re: Source of 19th Century Mohair Braid for Uniforms
« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2006, 11:54:49 am »
Good Afternoon, Colonel Pitsptr;

Thank you!  I've sent you a PM.

I have the honor to remain,

Your Obedient Servant,

Bvt. Captain Malachi Thorne
I have the honor to remain,

Your Obedient Servant,

Bvt Col. M. Thorne
Department of the Pacific

"Marine Artillery brings dignity to an otherwise vulgar brawl"

Offline Major Matt Lewis

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Re: Source of 19th Century Mohair Braid for Uniforms
« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2006, 01:04:05 pm »
Deal me in please
Major Matt Lewis
Grand Army of the Frontier * SASS Life * NCOWS * Powder Creek Cowboys * Free State Ranges * RO II * NRA Life * Man on the Edge

Offline Malachi Thorne

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Re: Source of 19th Century Mohair Braid for Uniforms
« Reply #6 on: May 09, 2006, 01:56:08 pm »
Good Afternoon, Major Lewis;

Consider yourself dealt in, sir!  Sent you a PM...

I have the honor to remain,

Your Obedient Servant,

Bvt Captain Malachi Thorne
I have the honor to remain,

Your Obedient Servant,

Bvt Col. M. Thorne
Department of the Pacific

"Marine Artillery brings dignity to an otherwise vulgar brawl"

Offline Malachi Thorne

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Re: Source of 19th Century Mohair Braid for Uniforms
« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2006, 07:36:53 pm »
Good Evening, All;

I arrived home today to a neat parcel, wrapped in best brown paper, tied with string, and containing 100 meters of 3/8" wide Tubular Mohair Braid.  As soon as I have a chance to do a layout and figure out the exchange rate, I will be able to disperse sufficient quantities to interested parties.

I have the honor to remain,

Your Obedient Servant,

Bvt Colonel Malachi Thorne, USMC
I have the honor to remain,

Your Obedient Servant,

Bvt Col. M. Thorne
Department of the Pacific

"Marine Artillery brings dignity to an otherwise vulgar brawl"

Offline Lone Gunman

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Re: Source of 19th Century Mohair Braid for Uniforms
« Reply #8 on: June 01, 2006, 11:26:06 pm »
Evening Colonel Thorne,
At first I was a little confused by the jacket in your photos, but I guess you didn't say it was necessarily an original Marine Patrol Jacket.  I'd be interested in a share of your Tubular Mohair Braid if you could supply the contact info for the net-bound toggles & buttons and the wider mohair trim.

BTW, what exactly is the jacket in your collection?  Here is the 1875 Marine fatigue coat as shown on page 140 of The Marines by the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation:



My sewing skills are limited to re-attaching (usually only temporarily) buttons.  ::)  however, these 'loops' look to be a little easier to make than the ones on the jacket you posted. On the downside, the main braiding/trim appears to have a smaller braid alongside the 1" piece.   :-\

Bvt Capt Lone Gunman
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George "Lone Gunman" Warnick

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Offline Malachi Thorne

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Re: Source of 19th Century Mohair Braid for Uniforms
« Reply #9 on: June 01, 2006, 11:56:06 pm »
Good Evening, Lone Gunman, et al;

You are quite correct; the coat in my collection is a Rifle Volunteers Patrol Jacket from a 19th Century British Militia (what would now be called a "Territorial Army") Regiment.  Actual USMC Undress/Fatigue Jackets from the 19th Century are necessarily as rare as hens teeth, owing to the relatively small size of the US Marine Corps in the 19th Century.  The photo in your post is an excellent example of a USMC uniform jacket of the period, although there is considerable fading of the various trims.

You are also correct in your statement that the 1" braid is "doubled" with a thinner braid.  Per the regulations, this would be 1/8th inch wide "Russia" braid, also known as "Soutache".  If you look closely, you will also notice that the Austrian Knots on the sleeves of the jacket are doubled on either side by the soutache.  The coat in your picture belonged to a First Lieutenant -- Second Lieutenants had plain doubled Austrian Knots; 1st Lieutenants had a small flourish at the base of the Austrian Knot, as is seen on the sleeve in the lower left of the photo.  Captains had a row of soutache worked into double-loops surrounding the entire Austrian Knot, and Field Officers had an inverted chevron made from 1-3/4" braid on each sleeve, each chevron surrounded by doubled loops of soutache.

I have sources for all of the trims, braids, netted buttons and toggles (the latter are known as "Olivettes") which I will gladly share.  In fact, I plan on writing an illustrated monograph on the construction of the jacket itself, which will contain all relavent sources.  I shall publish this document to the Barracks as soon as it (and the jacket) are complete.  In the meanwhile, I shall share my list of sources with anyone who asks.  I shall post this information tomorrow evening.

Thank you for posting this picture; I have a considerable number of books on the US Marine Corps in my library, but none that show so clear a photo of this jacket.  Obviously, I need to order a copy of this book.

I have the honor to remain,

Your Obedient Servant,

Bvt Colonel Malachi Thorne, USMC
I have the honor to remain,

Your Obedient Servant,

Bvt Col. M. Thorne
Department of the Pacific

"Marine Artillery brings dignity to an otherwise vulgar brawl"

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Re: Source of 19th Century Mohair Braid for Uniforms
« Reply #9 on: June 01, 2006, 11:56:06 pm »

Offline US Scout

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Re: Source of 19th Century Mohair Braid for Uniforms
« Reply #10 on: June 02, 2006, 03:52:54 pm »
The new Marine Corps Museum opens at Quantico on 10 November.

Perhaps once it does, I can get some photographs of the coat in question.  It used to be displayed at the Marine Corps Museum in the Navy Yard, but that is now closed and all the exibits will be in the new museum.

I used to know the uniform curator but I'm sure I can introduce myself to the new one with no problem once they open.

US Scout
Bvt Brig Gen

Offline Malachi Thorne

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Re: Source of 19th Century Mohair Braid for Uniforms
« Reply #11 on: June 02, 2006, 11:20:35 pm »
Good Evening, General;

I thank the General for his kind offer; your assistance will be most appreciated.

As promised, here are the sources for the various and sundry braids, buttons, and ollivettes I have found:

Netted Black Buttons, 1" Round, and Ollivettes, Guards Black are available from:

Hand and Lock
86 Margaret Street
London W1W BTE
http://www.handembroidery.com

Hand and Lock also carry regular Mohair Braid in a variety of widths, as well as the Black "Russia" (Soutache) braid; however, you will pay a premium when buying from them.  There are US dealers who can sell you the braids at much more reasonable prices -- but Hand & Lock are the only suppliers I have found who sell the Netted Buttons and Olivettes in small quantities.

When I ordered my set of Buttons and Olivettes, I procured extras.  If there is any interest, I will be happy to get quotes from a few Indo-Pak sources.  The quality will be just as good (the Indians and Pakistanis are very likely making them for Hand & Lock) but the prices will be much lower.  I will take the precaution of finding out minimum orders, just in case there is interest.

Black Mohair Braid in a variety of widths is available from:

Roy Najecki
1203 Reynolds Road
Chepachet, RI 02814-2499
http://www.najecki.com

Mr. Najecki is a Revolutionary War Re-enactor and part-time Sutler, running his business out of his home.  In addition to Mohair Braid, he also carries a variety of Woolen Yardage from the Abimelech-Hainsworth Woollen Mill of Yorkshirt, England.  This Mill has been supplying military cloth to the British Army since the Battle of Waterloo.  There is ample evidence that many US Military uniforms in the 19th Century were tailored from Hainsworth Wool.

Officer's quality cloth will be either a doeskin or a superfine.  Other grades and makers of wool cloth could be substituted, of course; I merely provide this information for those who are as anal-retentive as I.

Other sources of trims and soutache:

Wooded Hamlet
http://www.woodedhamlet.com

Recently taken over by Needle & Thread of Gettysburg, PA; they carry soutache as well as Hainsworth Wool.  I purchased a few yards of black polished cotton for the lining of the jacket from Needle & Thread.

M&J Trimming
1008 Sixth Avenue
New York, NY
1-800-9-MJTRIM
http://www.mjtrim.com

Neither Soutache nor Mohair Braid are currently listed on their website, but I did visit their store while in New York last April, and did see it in stock.  Probably worth a call, as their prices are lower than the specialty sutlers.

T.L. Barnes Enterprises
15129 Domino Street
Van Nuys, CA 91411
http://www.tlbarnes.com
trimlady@tlbarnes.com

Tammy Barnes is a Los Angeles area costumer who runs a small business catering to hobbyist and professional seamsters/seamstresses.  Much of her stock is not listed on her website.  I have personally purchased entire spools of soutache from her, so I know she carries it.

These are the primary sources I have used to procure the various and sundry "specialty" items for this uniform.

I have the honor to remain,

Your Obedient Servant,

Bvt Colonel Malachi Thorne, USMC
I have the honor to remain,

Your Obedient Servant,

Bvt Col. M. Thorne
Department of the Pacific

"Marine Artillery brings dignity to an otherwise vulgar brawl"

Offline Major Matt Lewis

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Re: Source of 19th Century Mohair Braid for Uniforms
« Reply #12 on: June 05, 2006, 07:06:50 pm »
Have we found somebody willing to make the entire coat?
Major Matt Lewis
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Offline Malachi Thorne

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Re: Source of 19th Century Mohair Braid for Uniforms
« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2006, 09:25:22 am »
Good Morning, Major and Bvt LtCol Lewis;

I will be making my own coat, and will be happy to share the construction details with anyone else who would like to make a copy.  Once the construction details are finished, I am certain that any number of offshore suppliers would be able to build a similar garment, provided a local tailor/seamstress is unable or unwilling to undertake a project of this type.

When I originally talke to the the QM Shop about making a coat of this type for me, they were interested, but were "concerned" about the amount of work involved in braiding the cuffs.  I've actually done this before on a KRRC (British) uniform, and did not find it to be all that difficult.  If it comes right down to it, I might be willing to braid the cuffs of a few additional uniforms; I'll let you know as soon as I have done my own...

I have the honor to remain,

Your Obedient Servant,

Bvt Colonel Malachi Thorne, USMC

I have the honor to remain,

Your Obedient Servant,

Bvt Col. M. Thorne
Department of the Pacific

"Marine Artillery brings dignity to an otherwise vulgar brawl"

Offline xranger

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Re: Source of 19th Century Mohair Braid for Uniforms
« Reply #14 on: June 23, 2006, 04:42:34 am »
Bvt Colonel Malachi Thorne,

 I would (also) be interested in purchasing some of the Mohair Braid , buttons, and ollivettes, etc. that you may have remaining  after completion of your uniform project. I'm working on a similar project, although my interests are Victorian British Cavalry, still the materials are the same for officer's undress frock and patrol jackets. I'd also be interested in the various sources for materials you've discovered.

 My current project is that of recreation of a 15th Hussars Officer's grade Patrol Jacket, circa 1880. The Mohair braiding is very complex, and as of yet I have not found the talent (here in the US) able to actually do the work. However,  as the project continues I'm doing the same documentation process as you are. Hopefully at it's conclusion there will be enough information for others (who wish)  to follow.

 -thank you for the posting,
 -Ray Licon
Ray Licon

Offline Pawnee Bill

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Re: Source of 19th Century Mohair Braid for Uniforms
« Reply #15 on: June 23, 2006, 12:05:25 pm »
Bvt Colonel Malachi Thorne,

. The Mohair braiding is very complex, and as of yet I have not found the talent (here in the US) able to actually do the work. However,  as the project continues I'm doing the same documentation process as you are. Hopefully at it's conclusion there will be enough information for others (who wish)  to follow.

 -thank you for the posting,
 -Ray Licon
Try going to a place that makes Fraternal stuff they often do complicated buillion work and may be able to help you out.
Cheers
Pawnee Bill

 

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