In search of the "Belgic"

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Richard Warren
Forum Rifleman
Joined: 26 Apr 2009, 19:05

06 Dec 2017, 10:04 #321

Right, so (excuse my ignorance), if this is a lash-up, our Belgic was not a direct copy of the earlier Portugese cap with the elevated front?
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Ben Townsend
Forum General
Joined: 19 Nov 2007, 21:35

07 Dec 2017, 07:31 #322

Eddie, I have no idea how these things get into the supply chain. The site you linked to does illustrate that the skill base is out there though. I suppose any replica is only a generation away from being mistaken for an original and resold as such. I remember Neibelungen raising the possibility of 90% of the 1812 caps in museums being early C20th pageant pieces, owing to a problem with the officer's cording that made him doubt the associated cords were of early C19th origin. That would mean that our cap database was decimated in reverse, something that gives me nightmares.

Richard, regarding the origin of the 1812 cap. I don't know. Three lines of theory at least.
1. One could posit that it is a translation of the Portuguese cap, which would agree with Wellington's stated desire to homogenise the appearance of his forces in a way that distinguished them from the French (continental shako) appearance.
2. Or you could draw a parallel with the Belgian/Dutch cap. This is the weakest theory, as the 1812 came first IIRC. However, the Dutch/Belgian cap may be derived from the Austrian...

3. It may be drawn from the Austrian cap. In many ways I find this the most plausible, as one can demonstrate that the Royal family (who were ultimate arbiters of military style) drew inspiration from first Prussian (pre 1806 debacle) and then from Austrian military modes.
I would prefer it to be no.1 as it feels right. The Portuguese cap looks like a direct ancestor of the 1812. But I haven't found a scrap of evidence to support the theory outside of their similarity.

Rifleman LaLa
I'm part of the problem
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Eddie
Forum Lieutenant
Joined: 04 Sep 2010, 11:49

07 Dec 2017, 16:48 #323

Richard Warren wrote: Right, so (excuse my ignorance), if this is a lash-up, our Belgic was not a direct copy of the earlier Portugese cap with the elevated front?
Richard - I do not understand your question - the suggestion that the validity of this individual cap on ebay is suspect does not put into question how the British style Belgic was developed ???
"Far the calling bugles hollo,
High the screaming Fife replies,
Gay the files of scarlet follow:
Woman bore me, I will rise"
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Richard Warren
Forum Rifleman
Joined: 26 Apr 2009, 19:05

07 Dec 2017, 17:20 #324

Er, yes, sorry, that wasn't too clear - I rather telegraphed my thoughts. My thinking was that the form of this cap (apparently Portugese, judging by the brass strip), with the separate elevated front, resembles the Belgic, suggesting that the Belgic could have been copied from/inspired by the earlier Portugese caps. But - if this is a modern concoction, it can't been taken as a faithful example of a Portugese cap, so that theory doesn't hold, at least not with this cap. Now that I put it like that, it hardly seems worth saying anyway. Just ignore me!
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Eddie
Forum Lieutenant
Joined: 04 Sep 2010, 11:49

07 Dec 2017, 17:47 #325

Richard - thanks. There is an obvious similarity between the both caps and assuming that the Portugese were wearing this style before 1812 than no doubt it could have been an influence on the British version. In the case of the ebay cap it is very odd for it to be offered up as a British Belgic - the Royal  Scots it suggests  - when so very clearly it is 'continental' in its style and bugle badge. If it is indeed faked up then it is a strange cap to copy and pass off as British.
"Far the calling bugles hollo,
High the screaming Fife replies,
Gay the files of scarlet follow:
Woman bore me, I will rise"
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Eddie
Forum Lieutenant
Joined: 04 Sep 2010, 11:49

15 Dec 2017, 15:49 #326

I was fortunate so time ago to be sent detailed photos of the 3 Belgic caps in the KGL Bomann Collection at Celle Germany on the very strict understanding that I do not show or publish the images any where. I have however drawn up a description of each. The overall sizes of the caps were not recorded.

1. Cap with 3rd Line Batt KGL plate:

 Cap makers Label Hobden and Co London.  Possibly Sergeant’s.
This cap has white cords of twelve plait knots and large tassels which are not bullion fringe. Black hook on front.
Body seems to be of a coarse fur felt. The upstand of the false front is 6cm above the crown.
Lace appears to be about an inch broad around the base of the false front only. Lace is a twill weave – in effect a zig zag pattern with a broader central band than the edges.
Half a tooled leather cockade remains but is detached – originally sewn to the cap by two fixing points. Plume hole not visible as covered by the remnants of the cockade and no visible internal plume holder.
Leather sweat band turned over from outside and peak affixed to cap body through the brow. The false front added after peak attachment as it overlaps the peak - which is wider than the false front by appx 18mm  each side.  Joint of sweatband at front right.
White linen/cotton liner with draw string.


2. Cap with 7th KGL plate:

Plate looks gilt . Fur felt – the plush of the felt obvious behind the false front upstand. The cap looks tall in proportion to the cap plate.
No bottom lace. Petersham type lace edging to false front.
Peak slightly wider than false front and affixed direct to the cap body front the front with the false front added later and overlapping. Crude repair stitching to peak attachment.
The peak edge has a tooled line around it about  ¼” in
Black leather edge binding around cap base with a broad natural leather sweatband whip stitched to the inside. Sweatband joint at rear.
Base of cap curved and dips to rear.
No cockade.
The crown has been repaired. There appears  to be an internal leather plume holder tab on the left.
No liner present.
Plate held in by leather thongs through eyes.
No cord hooks present.


3. Cap with GR plate
Possibly gilt plate. Looks to be a smooth felt.
The cap has a curved base which dips beautifully at the back.
The lace appears to be about ¾” and is a diagonal weave overlying a Petersham rib.
Hook, black , present on front only.
The peak is attached through  the brow band and is wider than the false front by about 18mm. There is rippling to the top surface of the peak corresponding to the stitctes. The underside of the peak shows 15 – 16 stitches only which seem wide spaced in proportion to the peak.
The false front appears to be added after the peak was attached to the body. The peak is about 18 mm wider each side than the false front .
The sweat band of black leather is turned under from the outside and is narrow – possibly just over an inch broad. There is no liner present.  Plate affixed by leather thongs through eyelets.
Leather tab internal plume holder on left.  Slit in left top of crown for plume.
No cockade
The stiching for the false front is obvious on the inside - running up vertically corresponding to the edge of the front – the stitches widely spaced perhaps ¾  to I” apart.
"Far the calling bugles hollo,
High the screaming Fife replies,
Gay the files of scarlet follow:
Woman bore me, I will rise"
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Eddie
Forum Lieutenant
Joined: 04 Sep 2010, 11:49

15 Dec 2017, 16:01 #327

Since I created  this little topic in November 2011 it has had 326 replies/ posts and now runs to 33 pages.
It has had a hundred and nine thousand 'views' !!! No where is there a published source which will tell you more about this elegant but short lived military headdress.

I think the time has come to summarise the features of this, the 1812 Regulation Cap,  as a separate post - in a more easily readable and accessible form - which I shall attempt shortly but it will take much thought.......
"Far the calling bugles hollo,
High the screaming Fife replies,
Gay the files of scarlet follow:
Woman bore me, I will rise"
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Ben Townsend
Forum General
Joined: 19 Nov 2007, 21:35

Today, 11:26 #328

Yes please Eddie. If it helps, I went and examined the information on the pattern caps that were in the Royal Collection prior to being destroyed in the Tower fire. I'm not sure it adds much to the JSAHR article except for correcting a few typos ( and probably introducing some of my own. But its there if you would find it useful. The most intriguing part for me was that the pattern caps had leather edging to the cap front, rather than the tape we are used to seeing on the museum pieces. Possibly a trace of there being a balance between the pattern item and the eventual mass produced product. Although it seems quite a drastic departure to me, and I would have expected a paper trail to record such a decision.

Rifleman LaLa
I'm part of the problem
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Eddie
Forum Lieutenant
Joined: 04 Sep 2010, 11:49

Today, 12:57 #329

Ben Townsend wrote: Yes please Eddie. If it helps, I went and examined the information on the pattern caps that were in the Royal Collection prior to being destroyed in the Tower fire. I'm not sure it adds much to the JSAHR article except for correcting a few typos ( and probably introducing some of my own. But its there if you would find it useful. The most intriguing part for me was that the pattern caps had leather edging to the cap front, rather than the tape we are used to seeing on the museum pieces. Possibly a trace of there being a balance between the pattern item and the eventual mass produced product. Although it seems quite a drastic departure to me, and I would have expected a paper trail to record such a decision
The leather edge binding for OR's caps is something that perhaps did not make it beyond the pattern caps - as you suggest. It is however difficult to establish what OR caps were actually made like as so few have survived - perhaps only the Sergeant KGL cap and the Coldstream Light coy partial cap - which each have a fabric edge binding . I would think it is more awkward to turn folded leather around the 'corner' of the false front upstand - but the cap edge would have been stronger and more durable. Anyway I will sort that summary when I am able.
"Far the calling bugles hollo,
High the screaming Fife replies,
Gay the files of scarlet follow:
Woman bore me, I will rise"
Reply