Civil War McClellan inspection mark, circa 1863

This inspection mark was found on an original civil war 1863 vintage McClellan saddletree.  This specimen was found under a civilian saddle built circa 1880s.  This rather large, bold mark was present on both the rawhide and the wood, in roughly the same cantle position.  It appears to have been made with heavy printers ink and a die-cut stencil, not unlike some stenciling setups used today.

1863 Saddletree inspectors mark
Notes on dating this tree and marking type – the Ordnance Department was attempting various methods to ensure quality saddletrees.  At point in early 1863, requirements for the sub-inspector assigned to a saddletree manufacturer included the physical inspection of both the tree before the rawhide cover was sewn on, and once the cover was complete and dried[1].  Late in 1863, tree makers were also asked to provide a brass tag, stamped with their names and location, to be affixed to the tree – this became mandatory in early 1864 [2].  The sub-inspectors were still required to stamp both the tree and rawhide covers.  The rather enormous stamp as shown above isn’t commonly found in these later ‘tagged’ trees, being generally found as small lettering in an arc, placed just above the center slot on the front face of the cantle.   These later stamps are not terribly durable, and located right where the riders seat would quickly rub them away, so they’re generally only seen on unused trees and saddles.  



[1] Circular No. 51-Series of 1863, Ordnance Office, War Department, Washington, November 4, 1863.

[2] Circular No. 12-Series of 1864, Ordnance Office, War Department, Washington, April 6, 1864.

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