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Archive formerly the property of Lt. Wilson Reed McKinney, U. S. Navy. Born in Tennessee, he later lived in Alabama. He entered the service in 1834, sailing originally on the sloop U.S.S St. Louis. He was promoted to Lieutenant in 1847 and died in 1851. This large group retains his Model 1841 dark blue wool double breasted undress tail coat with gilt eagle and anchor buttons, gold braid epaulet shoulder loops and a pair of gold bullion epaulets with 3.5" fringe. The coat is lined in black quilted silk. The black beaver fur chapeau is trimmed in silk ribbon, silk cockade and gold bullion cords and tassels, lined in silk and linen with a leather sweatband and a Boston maker's paper label.
Other articles of clothing include a Lieutenant's gold embroidered standing collar removed from the Model 1841 officer's dress coat, a braided hair queue, a white patterned silk bow, white kid gloves and a pair of white kid straight last dress shoes. McKinney's sword is a non-regulation pattern popular in the late 1840s, 26.5" feather blade, finely etched in floral, naval and patriotic motifs, inscribed "United States Navy," Horstmann & Sons marked, but probably English or German made. Hilt has a gilt brass multi-branch pierced guard with eagle and anchor emblem, acorn finial, eagle head pommel and back strap, grip wrapped in shagreen and brass wire. Black leather-covered wood scabbard has gilded brass mountings engraved with stars, anchor and acorn motifs. The black leather Model 1841 sword belt has a brass spoon and wreath buckle embossed with an eagle and anchor in bold relief and sword hangers with brass fittings. Personal effects include a wooden fishing kit with cork floats, a paper of hooks, pasteboard box and line, some pieces dated "April 27th 1850" and inscribed with the subject's name and "U.S.Frigate Constitution;" a brass two-pull telescope engraved "Dollond / London / Imp'd Day or Night," optics clouded; a map-maker's drafting set with brass and steel tools in a velvet lined wood case. Of special note is a Swiss-made key-wound lady's pocket watch with an 18 karat gold case engraved on the interior of the rear cover with a presentation "From W. R. McKinney / to / Lucy K. Carson."
The archive comes with a number of documents and related items including an handwritten journal, bound in marbleized paper covered boards, titled, "Journal of a Cruise in the U. States Ship St. Louis of 24 Guns, Thomas Paine, Esq. Commander. West India Station 1836 & 37 by Wilson Reed McKinney, U.S.N. of Alabama.", approximately 175 pages with daily accounts, roster of ship's officers, ports of call and a few doodles. Two promotion documents with presidential signatures of Andrew Jackson and Martin van Buren, each housed in 23" x 14.5" contemporary frames with period lithograph portraits of the respective presidents. Also present are 14 letters, notes, orders and drawings relating to McKinney's career, a leather portfolio named to the owner, three quill pins and blotting paper.
The wood and canvas covered sea chest in which the archive was stored measures 35' x 14' x 10", lid stenciled "Effects of the late Lieut / W.R. McKenney. / care of / COMMANDANT of the Navy Yard. / N. YORK," and retains a linen bag inscribed with the subject's name. A very complete and well documented group from a Mexican War era officer.
Overall the group is well preserved showing only light age and service wear. However, several items have suffered from poor display mounting, especially the inappropriate use of adhesives. The coat has a minor moth damage that does not detract, all buttons present, the tail lining has a damaged area where adhesives have shredded the silk. The gloves have strips of double stick tape that needs to be professionally removed. One of the shoes has a large hole worn on the side. The drafting set box has two screw holes drilled through the bottom. The sword blade has minor age spots and the scabbard fittings are loose but present. The journal binding has been restored using a mix of original and contemporary materials. Most documents have tack holes at the corners. Most of the leather straps on the sea chest cover are broken.
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