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Leather Cap

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Photographs3205 of 4472Antique photographs LE ROY ROSELIEVE Is This a Civil War soldier?
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Posted 6 years ago

(7 items)

Ok ......anybody know what this guy is? This is an ambrotype of a young man with a big funky shiny leather cap on and a pin of the number 5 right in the middle of his tie. Any help on this one? Thanks!!!

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  1. scottvez scottvez, 6 years ago
    Nice rain cover on his hat-- he certainly is an interesting looking character!

  2. happytobehere happytobehere, 6 years ago
    I'm sure he wore the hat with pride...lol
  3. janpentz janpentz, 6 years ago
    I took the preserver off......It has a piece of glass permanently attached to it...... and you can't see anything but a black blob.
  4. scottvez scottvez, 6 years ago
    Interesting thoughts Rob.

    I'd never heard of any great significance with the "5" before. Do you have a reference to Wide Awake members wearing the numeral "5"?

  5. scottvez scottvez, 6 years ago
    Rob-- not sure if the reference was for me?

    I cannot find any reference to the use of the number "5" as an insignia.

  6. scottvez scottvez, 6 years ago
    Speculation presented as research does little to solve a mystery. When speculation drives the investigation one tends to "muddy the waters" and begin to see what one wants to see.

    Not having seen the other photo-- I cannot comment on it (a link would be helpful).

    However, to attach significance to a number "5" is a stretch. Present day explanations without any period documentation can lead to erroneous conclusions: "Members of the American Anti- Slavery Movement wear a number "2" due to two original founders".

    With that being said, he MAY be a member of the Wide Awakes but there are other possibilities just as reasonable.

  7. scottvez scottvez, 6 years ago
    Two guys with similar style beards-- must be the same guy.

    It would certainly take looking through "muddy waters" to see the numeral "5" on him!

    Speculation based investigations usually result in the desired outcome.

  8. scottvez scottvez, 6 years ago
    Here is another image of Sperry available right now:


    It did have the number "5" and a complete ID written on the card but was erased by an early Southern collector (purely speculation on my part of course).

  9. scottvez scottvez, 6 years ago
    Discussion point was the attribution of "5" to the founders of the Wide Awakes.

  10. scottvez scottvez, 6 years ago
    It is an ambrotype (that's in the title)-- so it can be flipped to show a "true image".

  11. scottvez scottvez, 6 years ago
    I was wrong-- "ambrotype" is in the posters description.

  12. scottvez scottvez, 6 years ago
    You are correct, jason.

  13. scottvez scottvez, 6 years ago
    Numerals like this were typically made for military regimental markings of the Civil War era.

  14. scottvez scottvez, 6 years ago
    I responded to YOUR condescending post (#10)-- up to that point, I thought you had some facts on the number "5" being associated with the Wide Awakes.

    As far as a possibility: the number MAY be associated with a regimental assignment and this may be a photo taken soon after the man's enlistment. The style of hat was not only worn by Wide Awakes.

  15. scottvez scottvez, 6 years ago
    eye4-- the fabric pattern on the felt is fairly typical of the style seen in cases of this era. I wouldn't attach any significance to it.

  16. scottvez scottvez, 6 years ago
    I don't see a fireman.

    Could he be one?-- sure, I just don't see anything to attribute.

    He doesn't have any of the typical "tools of the trade"-- belt, trumpet or hat insignia.

    I have seen men in this type hat identified as riverboat captains/ dock workers, businessmen, etc....

  17. vetraio50 vetraio50, 6 years ago
    I found this article on US military hats from 1855.
    That may be a bit late, however.
    For reference only, then.
    I did not find the one pictured but many eyes ....

    I've enjoyed the discussion. My latest thought had been riverboats too!
  18. scottvez scottvez, 6 years ago
    I have seen image from the Mexican War of soldiers wearing similar headgear, Civil War era are a different style.

  19. scottvez scottvez, 6 years ago
    Here is an example of a Mexican War Volunteer:


    The example noted above has brass military style buttons on the side and the posters image doesn't appear to have any buttons.

    Popular military items were often civilianized and caught on in the civilian market.

  20. scottvez scottvez, 6 years ago
    See "1847" for artist rendition of the forage cap:


  21. scottvez scottvez, 6 years ago
    Straight facial recognition is generally considered unreliable in identification of subjects from antique images.

    There are some well known examples. An early daguerreotype believed by the owner to be of Lincoln is a great example (you can find it online). The owner has had extensive research done by facial comparison experts and many historians do not accept it as Lincoln.

    Provenance and supporting period documentation is essential.

    For the most part a "looks like" ID will always be suspect.

  22. janpentz janpentz, 6 years ago
    Just to make it even weirder:
  23. scottvez scottvez, 6 years ago
    janpentz-- it certainly is an interesting image with many possibilities.

    Like so many antique photographs the true story and subject particulars have been lost over time and will probably never be definitively determined.

    Thanks for sharing!

  24. janpentz janpentz, 6 years ago
    I appreciate you guys......Can you actually ask the Smithsonian about something like this? Will they actually answer?
  25. janpentz janpentz, 6 years ago
    Here's an auction on Ebay right now of "Wide Awakes" They don't have torches either:
  26. scottvez scottvez, 6 years ago
    That is a seller's identification, BUT.... with TWO guys BOTH wearing the same style hat, it lends more credence to the Wide Awake identification.

    The seller will be hard pressed to find a buyer at that level. For that price collectors would expect the torch, cloak and pristine condition.

  27. scottvez scottvez, 6 years ago
    Interestingly, the matting on the ebay example (two guys) is much more indicative of an earlier date. These octagon matts with pebble finish were the earliest style mats and fell out of favor in the 1850s.

    Of course, it could have been replaced at some point, but if the emulsion halo (below the mat) shows this was the original matting, it would suggest that the image dates from the 1850s and is too early to be Wide Awakes.

  28. janpentz janpentz, 6 years ago
    I bought this out of Wisconsin.

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