Military Uniform Epaulettes
European – Possibly German or Austrian
Late 19th to Mid 20th Century
Presented is a very ornate pair of uniform epaulettes. From our research, they appear to be either German or possibly Austrian. The design more closely approximates those of Western European military organizations. Originally they had 3 stars in each piece, but two of the stars were removed at some time. They came to us with several other items with no indication of provenance. They are presented in a lucite display case on a velvet-covered backboard.
The Epaulette is a type of ornamental shoulder piece or decoration used as insignia of rank by armed forces and other organizations. In the French and other armies, epaulettes are also worn by all ranks of elite or ceremonial units when on parade. It may bear the rank or insignia of the wearer.
Epaulettes bear some resemblance to the shoulder pteruges of ancient Greco-Roman military costumes. However, their direct origin lies in the bunches of ribbons worn on the shoulders of military coats at the end of the 17th century, which were partially decorative and partially intended to prevent shoulder belts from slipping. These ribbons were tied into a knot that left the fringed end free. This established the basic design of the epaulette as it evolved through the 18th and 19th centuries.
By the early 18th century, epaulettes had become the distinguishing feature of commissioned rank. This led officers of military units still without epaulettes to petition for the right to wear epaulettes to ensure that their status would be recognized.
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