British Oficer’s Silver Gorget Ca 1778

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BRITISH OFFICER’S SILVER GORGET
Circa LATE 18th CENTURY

Front of British officer;s gorget Ca 1777 image

DIMENSIONS:
Height 4 1/2″     Width 4″     Weight 84 grams

Presented is a Silver British Officer’s Gorget of around the late 18th century made from British silver. The body has a royal coat of arms with GR embossed referring to the reigning monarch, King George III (1738-1820). The back is lined with
red Morrocan leather.

CONDITION:   The plate has some minor marks of age, the most significant is a 1/8th inch irregular dent just
to the left of the “R”, all the others are too minor to mention. On the reverse, some of he red leather has darkened
with age. One round button on the font and two small metal eye bolts, one on each side at the top rear are missing from
the back. They were used to attach the neck chain or ribbon for wearing from the neck. 
 

Paining by William Tate of British offcer wearing gorget around 1777 image
         Painting
of Capt. Thomas Hewitt  (1781)wearing Gorget by William Tate (1748-1806)

This
painting is of Captain Thomas Hewitt, 10th Regiment of Foot, 1781 by William Tate (1748-1806), shows as a mark of his
status as an officer, a silver gorget around his neck. The ‘wings’ on the shoulders of his uniform distinguish
him as a member of a light company; his light infantry cap is held in his left hand. He carries a fusil or light musket –
a weapon frequently carried by light company officers which was usually privately purchased. Portraits of officers carrying
such a weapon are rare.

GORGET’S
HISTORY: A gorget is derived from the French gorge meaning throat, and was originally a band of linen wrapped around a woman’s
neck and head in the medieval period, or the lower part of a simple chaperon hood. The term subsequently described a metal
or leather collar designed to protect the throat, a set of pieces of plate armour, or a single piece of plate armour hanging
from the neck and covering the throat and chest. Later, particularly from the 18th century onwards, the gorget became primarily
ornamental, serving only as a symbolic accessory on military uniforms, designating “Authority” a use which
has survived in some armies through WW II.

During
the 18th and early 19th centuries, gorgets of silver or silver gilt were worn by officers in most European armies, both as
a badge of rank and an indication that they were on duty. These last survivals of armour were much smaller (usually about
three to four inches in width) than their Medieval predecessors and were suspended by chains or ribbons. In the British service
they carried the Royal coat of arms until 1796 and thereafter the Royal cypher.

 Reverse side of gorget covered in Morrocian leather image
 
Reverse side of gorget is covered in red Moroccan leather
     
       

Gorgets
ceased to be worn by British army officers in 1830, and by their French counterparts 20 years later. They were still worn
to a limited extent in the Imperial German Army until 1914, as a special distinction by officers of the Prussian Gardes du
Corps and the 2nd Cuirassiers “Queen”. Officers of the Spanish infantry continued to wear gorgets with the cypher
of King Alfonso XIII in full dress until the overthrow of the Monarchy in 1931. Mexican Federal army officers also wore the
gorget with the badge of their branch as part of their parade uniform. This practice ended in 1947. Credit Wikipedia

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