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Sale 2517 Lot 41
(CIVIL WAR.) Smith's Patent (Applied for) Bullet-Proof Vest, for Soldiers. Illustrated double-sided advertising circular, 8 3/4 x 6 3/4 inches; tightly trimmed, moderate dampstaining and wear. New York: Merwin & Bray, circa 1862
Estimate $600 - 900
Bullet-proof vests were not standard issue for Civil War soldiers, and were not commonly used although offered by more than one manufacturer. Their steel linings were uncomfortable, added considerable weight to the load of an already well-laden soldier, and were of uncertain effectiveness. This vest was manufactured by military outfitter James S. Smith of New York City. It was available in 4 sizes and in two grades: $8.00 for an officer's vest "made in the best manner" and $6.00 for "a good strong Vest, suitable for privates." Discounts were offered to any regiment purchasing 500 or more vests. On verso are a series of testimonials including one by the president of Columbia College and one by a soldier who had "seen the Vest successfully repel and flatten a half-ounce bullet from my Pistol of the largest size, and with a full load of strongest powder." None in OCLC, and no other copies traced at auction.