Best Reenacting Shell Jacket

FrazierC

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#1
Hello! I've been a "mainstream" reenactor for about 10 years and am looking to improve the authenticity and quality of my uniform. So I have a simple question: which sutler has the absolute best Richmond Depot type shell jackets in terms of quality and authenticity? I am fully aware that the best costs more, but I'm very ready to meet the financial cost--I just want the most authentic and highest quality jacket.

Any help and insight would be appreciated. I know "Pair-O-Dice Mercantile," "Quartermaster Shop," Wambaugh, White, & Company," "S&S", "Richmond Depot", and "N.J. Sekela" are some of the higher quality sutlers. Anyone have any experience with their products? Thanks!
 

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captaindrew

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#2
All the ones listed are great choices but I would go with Wambaugh, the best in my opinion. Another one you may want to look at you don't have on your list is B & B Tart. You may also check out Regimental Quartermaster and go to their campaigner line. They have some Wambaugh, Tart, and Sekela jackets in stock. You may luck out if they have one in your size and material you're looking for you could pick one up without a wait. You'll be in for a several month wait from any of those makers.
 

FrazierC

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#3
All the ones listed are great choices but I would go with Wambaugh, the best in my opinion. Another one you may want to look at you don't have on your list is B & B Tart. You may also check out Regimental Quartermaster and go to their campaigner line. They have some Wambaugh, Tart, and Sekela jackets in stock. You may luck out if they have one in your size and material you're looking for you could pick one up without a wait. You'll be in for a several month wait from any of those makers.
Thanks, captaindrew! I'll definitely look into B&B Tart and Regimental. If anything else occurs to you, let me know!
 

captaindrew

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#4
Thanks, captaindrew! I'll definitely look into B&B Tart and Regimental. If anything else occurs to you, let me know!
No problem, like I said they are all good choices but I can't say enough good things about Dave Wambaugh. He's made me some thinks in the past and actually working on a jacket for me right now. His work is great, customer service is great. Always answers emails promptly and very friendly and helpful when you get him on the phone and his prices are actually better than some of the others. Just be prepared with anything custom made it will take a while to get.
 
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#5
I don't know anything about Pair-O-Dice Mercantile. I would not put Quartermaster Shop on the same level as the others you mentioned for historical accuracy. They are nice people and their products are durable, but unless they've changed in the last few years their materials and patterns are not the best.
 
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#6
but unless they've changed in the last few years their materials and patterns are not the best.
Quartermaster Shop has changed over the years. Now, most of their stuff is made overseas, and they sew the buttons on for an additional charge to claim it is made in the USA. Quartermaster Shop is expensive garbage that's the same quality as most mainstream stuff. Plus, they cost much more than the other vendors mentioned.

Regimental Quartermaster has a campaign section, but most of it is items they have purchased from other makers that they sell at a pretty high mark-up. If you need something in a pinch, they are useful, but why spend $265 for a Tart Jacket when you can get one for $215 from Ben himself?

You really won't see much difference in garment construction from any of the quality makers. They are all top-notch. It is just a question of what materials they have on hand and wait time. Personally, I like County Cloth and Beauregard's Tailor.

I'm looking for a new RDII in EAC and there are a baker's dozen of vendors who make it. There's no shortage of places to get quality gear these days. Also consider Kyle Windahl, The Honest Sutler, etc.
 
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#9
It's also worth noting that vendors come and go as time passes. So anytime the dreaded "who makes the best" question comes up, we should go back to basics.

Here is a link to the 1989 Company of Military Historians article where Les Jensen reviewed original shell jackets and came up with the "Richmond Depot" typology:

http://military-historians.org/company/journal/confederate/confederate-1.htm

Every repro jacket should be judged by fidelity to the originals, not just whether it is "better" than other repros.
 

FrazierC

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#10
I don't know anything about Pair-O-Dice Mercantile. I would not put Quartermaster Shop on the same level as the others you mentioned for historical accuracy. They are nice people and their products are durable, but unless they've changed in the last few years their materials and patterns are not the best.
Checking their site, I see Pair-O-Dice Mercantile advertises that their uniforms are made by the Quartermaster Shop, so caveat emptor applies.

I'll second the recommendation for Wambaugh, White and Co. I've known those guys since before they started the business. They'll take good care of you.
It's also worth noting that vendors come and go as time passes. So anytime the dreaded "who makes the best" question comes up, we should go back to basics.

Here is a link to the 1989 Company of Military Historians article where Les Jensen reviewed original shell jackets and came up with the "Richmond Depot" typology:

http://military-historians.org/company/journal/confederate/confederate-1.htm

Every repro jacket should be judged by fidelity to the originals, not just whether it is "better" than other repros.
Thanks for the tips, grognard! I'd heard mixed things about Quartermaster Shop, so thank you for clearing it up for me.
 

FrazierC

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#11
Quartermaster Shop has changed over the years. Now, most of their stuff is made overseas, and they sew the buttons on for an additional charge to claim it is made in the USA. Quartermaster Shop is expensive garbage that's the same quality as most mainstream stuff. Plus, they cost much more than the other vendors mentioned.

Regimental Quartermaster has a campaign section, but most of it is items they have purchased from other makers that they sell at a pretty high mark-up. If you need something in a pinch, they are useful, but why spend $265 for a Tart Jacket when you can get one for $215 from Ben himself?

You really won't see much difference in garment construction from any of the quality makers. They are all top-notch. It is just a question of what materials they have on hand and wait time. Personally, I like County Cloth and Beauregard's Tailor.

I'm looking for a new RDII in EAC and there are a baker's dozen of vendors who make it. There's no shortage of places to get quality gear these days. Also consider Kyle Windahl, The Honest Sutler, etc.
Thanks for the advice, Old Breck! I'm actually looking for the same thing right now--a RDII in EAC. I know Ben Tart has them on his website right now for $215, which, I think, is a great deal and I fully intend on getting one.
 

FrazierC

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#12
I’ll third all the recommendations so far. I can speak from recent experience that Tart, in my opinion, makes one of the better Richmond Depot II jackets for the money. Their turnaround time was very quick for a made to order item. Wambaugh and White are also a vendor you can’t go wrong with.
Thanks for the reply, kbaxley45! I think I've decided on the Tart RDII. The advice was much appreciated!
 
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#13
I recently commissioned 2 items by Quartermaster Shop and I have to say that I'm very impressed with their outcome. Now the caveat being that both of mine were 'one-offs' and specialty patterns had to be constructed for a portion of one of the pieces. Can't attest to a more 'regular' item, but if its anything like the 2 pieces I've received I'm quite happy with their products and service. I suppose YMMV.
 
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#14
"Can't attest to a more 'regular' item, but if its anything like the 2 pieces I've received I'm quite happy with their products and service."

I am glad to read your experience was positive. I was always pleased with QM Shop's service, but as I learned more about period clothing I found more wrong with their products. Specifically:

- Most if not all of their wool is too coarse, too heavy, and has some synthetic content. The "high quality" wool is better but still probably partly synthetic. In addition to being historically incorrect, this means it "breathes" much less well in the heat.

- Their patterns are not cut on period lines. This takes some experience to appreciate, but once you know what to look for it's pretty obvious. Chests are too flat, sleeves are too straight, and the trousers look and fit like modern blue jeans. Most "mass market" sutlers take this approach because most reenactors don't understand the differences and want their period clothing to fit like their modern clothing. That's understandable, but it doesn't make it historically accurate.
 
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#16
If you want quality gear, and have a little textile talent, try a kit based jacket from Country Cloth or Wambaugh and White. Gives you a greater appreciation for what goes into a quality, accurate reproduction.
 
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#17
"Can't attest to a more 'regular' item, but if its anything like the 2 pieces I've received I'm quite happy with their products and service."

I am glad to read your experience was positive. I was always pleased with QM Shop's service, but as I learned more about period clothing I found more wrong with their products. Specifically:

- Most if not all of their wool is too coarse, too heavy, and has some synthetic content. The "high quality" wool is better but still probably partly synthetic. In addition to being historically incorrect, this means it "breathes" much less well in the heat.

- Their patterns are not cut on period lines. This takes some experience to appreciate, but once you know what to look for it's pretty obvious. Chests are too flat, sleeves are too straight, and the trousers look and fit like modern blue jeans. Most "mass market" sutlers take this approach because most reenactors don't understand the differences and want their period clothing to fit like their modern clothing. That's understandable, but it doesn't make it historically accurate.

What I've found from Quartermaster Shop is that they will go the extra mile to ensure you're pleased. In my particular case I wanted a jacket based off what Clint Eastwood wore in Unforgiven. They had made one previously, however I wanted to change certain aspects of it to better match the screen and my own personal interpretation. So while the jacket isn't 'technically' a Historic piece, they did an absolutely phenomenal job and I honestly couldn't be happier with their results. I also opted to use Ben Tart Army English wool so as for fabric well its absolutely spot on for what I was going for.
 

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