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Civil War Richards Patent Mess Set
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At the beginning of the Civil War many entrepreneurs rushed to patent and market inventions they thought would be popular among the troops. Several different patents were taken out on types of combination mess gear for private purchase by soldiers. Until the US government took over recruiting later in the war, the states supplied mess gear to their enlisting volunteers and there was a variety of issue and private purchase pieces available.
William Richards stated in his patent application, "the object of this invention is to provide a simple and efficient knife fork and spoon for camp purposes at small cost and which, when not in use, can be so put together as to occupy but little space in a soldier's knapsack so as to inconvenience him as little as possible."
The set consists of two pieces: a combination fork and spoon, and a knife. Each is 7 7/8 inches long and has flanges on the side to enable them to slide into one another. Each is marked "Wm. H. Richards / Patent July 23, 1861 / Boston."
Nice condition. Silver gray tone mixed with darker gray areas.
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