Havana Clothing Board Tunic

1896

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A side by side comparison of the Havana Clothing Board tunic on the left and a guayabera on the right.  A detail from an image of officers on the staff of General Julián Suárez Inclán.  Spanish National Library

A uniform with a rayadillo tunic strongly influenced by the design of the guayabera was suggested in an August 24, 1896 report by the Havana Clothing Board (Junta de Vestuario la Habana).  Like the guayabera it featured a rolled collar, shoulder straps, a fly front opening, and four large skirt pockets placed side by side in pairs on either side.  Unlike the guayabera, it had no shoulder yoke or pleats down the front.   The back of the tunic was either pleated or gathered with a drawstring, the original Spanish wording of the report is a little unclear on this detail.

Private 1st Class Faustino Alber García assistant to Coronel Cortijo.  Note the non-regulation inset breast pockets added to the tunic as a personal preference.  Spanish National Library

Garments matching the tunic’s description are known from photographs.  That it was manufactured in limited quantity is certain, but it was never issued in vast numbers as were the Model 1890 tunic or the guayabera.

Newly Discovered!

 

A recently discovered example of an Havana Clothing Board tunic worn by a volunteer from the 1er. Batallón de Ligeros from Havana.  It is held in a museum in the US.  More details and better images will be added as soon as possible.

A note of caution for curators and collectors

Movie costume uniforms consisting of a rayadillo tunics and trousers were made in the 1960s in Spain that are vaguely similar to the Havana Clothing Board uniform.  Many of these costumes have been sold as originals over the years several have found their way into Spanish museums.  They are currently on display as original garments.  In addition, several recent reference books and magazine articles have pictured examples of this costume tunic, incorrectly indentifying it as genuine.  The costume tunics differ from the originals in several key details.  The stripes of the rayadillo material are much thinner than any rayadillo fabric made during the 19th century.  Gray plastic buttons were originally used on these garments but most have now been replaced with period buttons.  The costumes have standing collars, not rolled as found on the originals.  This often leads to the suggestion that they are tunics worn in the Philippines, a false statement.  Lastly, they all have pointed self fabric cuffs, a feature not found on issue Spanish service dress tunics until well into the 20th. century.  Collectors should use caution when offered any rayadillo tunic that does not match one of the known regulation patterns.  Fakes do exist!  Click here for photos and more details

All material is Copyright 2014 by William K. Combs.  No portion may be used without permission.