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An original, very scarce War of 1812 US Marine Corps cap plate. Prescribed in 1804, the plate was described in the 1807 regulations as an octagon plate, and was worn through the War of 1812 until about 1816 or 1818. 1959 excavations at Fort Tomkins in New York revealed parts of two of these plates making clear that the form was a rectangular plate with clipped corners, explaining the reference to it as octagon. Since then, other examples have been recovered from War of 1812 sites. Campbell and ODonnell posit that extant examples were worn on the 1810 Marine felt yeomanry style caps and might differ slightly from the first ones made in 1804. Examples may be seen in Chartrand, Uniforms and Equipment of the United States Forces in the War of 1812 and in Campbell and ODonnell, where an example from the Troiani collection, excavated in Florida, is pictured.

Needless to say there are reproductions of this plate out there, including some that have been aged and beaten up to imitate an excavated example. None, however, show the die work of an original and I include several close up shots of this plate to make the point. The detail on the feathers, the spearheads, etc., is far above any of the copies. The die work was probably done by Moritz Furst, who worked for Armitage, who was the sold supplier of Marine Corps plates during the period.

This plate has a tannish-brown patina with some gray areas here and there. There are some wrinkles, minor cracks and small holes, particularly on the eagles left wing and a small hole that has taken out the o in Fortitudine in the ribbon clutched in the eagles beak. Please look at my photos carefully. The plate is stable and not fragile.

The plate was obviously excavated, but no location is available. It was intentionally cut across the top and bottom during its period of use, along the edges of the panel holding the eagle, keeping a width of 3 7/16 inches, but reducing the height to 3 inches. This was certainly done to fit a shorter cap. The two upper stitching holes inside the panel borders were left alone. Two new holes were then punched above the lower border, the original holes being below that border so as not to interfere with the central motif. This could have been done in the field to fit a Marine fatigue cap of some sort, but does away with the Marines designation below the central panel and may indicate the alteration was done by a later militia group, resulting in a plate that still bears a very patriotic and martial American eagle upon a stand of arms with the motto Fortudine in the ribbon still visible.

US only please. Shipping and insurance $25. NY addresses must add sales tax or supply a resale certificate.