IDENTIFY THESE ARTIFACTS, PLEASE
Don't tell my children, but I really don't know everything. This is nowhere more true than in the study of Spanish military artifacts. After all, the point of a research project is to learn more than you already know. In this section I will present items that I know to be Spanish colonial in origin or that I believe may be, but I cannot pin down an exact identification. If you can identify any of these items, I would be most grateful and will give full credit. Please contact me at:
Your input will help tell a more complete story.
Unidentified item #4 Posted 12/20/08
Unidentified Cuban Made Button "S.G"
A small cuff size button with a silver finish and the initials "S.G". It was made in Havana. The same button, but in a larger coat size, is in the collection at the Wisconsin Veteran's Museum, Madison along with a large number of Spanish and few Cuban Mambi buttons souvenired during the war. Any ideas what this button is and what unit it is for? Help!!!
Unidentified item #3 Posted 12/20/08 Updated 1/09/09
Guardia Municipal Button; What Cuban City?
A nickel button obviously for a Municipal Guard - City Police unit from an unknown Cuban city. The button has an "HABANA" backmark but the city seal or crest is not that of Havana. This is part of a collection of buttons and insignia on a souvenir belt from a Michigan estate. The buckle and collar insignia on the belt are from the Santiago de Cuba and the Santa Clara Divisions. Is this seal from on of these cities or another town? Let me know if you recognize this city seal. Thanks!
I have recently observed a medallion commemorating the opening of the aqueduct for the city of Cienfuegos, Cuba in 1866 which has this same city seal. I would still appreciate conformation of the identification. Thanks!
Unidentified item #2 Posted 9/09/07 Updated 3/30/08
Spanish Philippines Colonial Machete 'Tagalo'
Photos dating from the late 1880's have recently come to light that show this pattern machete in use with Spanish Guardia Civil, Guardia Civil Veterana and Carabineros personnel in the Philippines. Its use may have also extended to other units. The exact correct designation of this weapon is currently unknown to me but one period source refers to it as a "machete tagalo". Any further details or information on these weapons would be most appreciated. Contact me at: email@example.com
Thanks to all that helped in identifying this weapon, especially Carlos Muniz and Juan L. Calvo.
Both examples were purchased about two years apart in the Chicago, Illinois area.
Unidentified item #1 Posted 1/25/07 Updated 4/03/07
Brass Collar Insignia Crown and "AY" Cypher
This came with a small veterans souvenir lot of buttons and collar insignia. From the other items it appears that this insignia is from the Army in Cuba. It is 7/8" (21 mm) tall, of brass with gilded finish and loop attachments. I believe this a collar badge but I'm open to other suggestions. Any information is welcome.
I have recently received two responses to this inquiry. Both come to very similar conclusions.
Our good friend Fernando Camareno writes: I have noticed the unidentified crowned "AY" badge on your website and want to share with you what I have found. There is a badge approved in 1868 for the "Academia de Infanteria" or Infantry Academy in the Peninsula (Toledo) which consisted of the same letter but inside of a bugle horn. This badge might be of the same 1868 period due to the usage of the 'Y" instead of the "I" (this was done to avoid the letter 'I" to be misread as the Arabic numeral 1). The style of the lettering and crown of your badge are definitely Spanish. I strongly believe that this badge belongs to either the Infantry Academy of the Philippines (Academia Militar de Filipinas) based in Manila or the Infantry Academy of Puerto Rico. Thus far I don't recollect about an Infantry Academy in Cuba but will need to delve into my archives to give you a definitive answer. I will definitely will keep you posted of any more information that I can find.
The projects new friend SFC Carlos Muniz informs us of the following: I think that the following information might be useful in identifying your "Brass Collar Insignia with Crown and "AY" Cypher. The crown is the type and style in use during the reign of King Alfonso XII. (During the 1st Republic being square in shape and during Alfonso XIII being more elaborate in style.) The "Y" in reality is not a "Y". For heraldic purposes "Y" was used in place of "I". Examples are; Ysabel for Isabel and Ynfanteria for Infanteria. Some examples of this type of "Y" on insignia appear in the Spanish "Reglamento de 1886" which show the same "Y" standing for Infanteria. As a matter of fact "I" in Spanish insignia of the period stands for the number one (1). I haven't been able to locate another example of your insignia in any of my reference publications, however it is my educated guess that the "A" stands for Academia. Your insignia in my opinion being of the style in use at the Infantry Academy - "Academia de Infanteria" during the period of 1876-1882. From 1882-1892 the name was changed to "Academia Militar General". In 1892-1931 the name was again changed to "Academia de Infanteria". During the 1892-1898 period, the collar insignia for the Infantry Academy was the infantry horn with the "Y" in the middle (for Infanteria) and the crown on top. The "Academia de Infanteria" was mandatory for Infantry Officers, it was created in 1846 under the name Colegio General Militar (1846-1850). In 1850 the name was changed to Colegio de Infanteria (1850-1869) and in 1876 to "Academia de Infanteria". From 1931-1936 the name was changed to "Academias de Infanteria, Caballeria e Intendencia". At present time (again) the official name is "Academia de Infanteria". If your collar insignia was found in Cuba (1898), it is my opinion that it was some "old" insignia from a Spanish Infantry Officer. A very similar insignia with a stylized "I" in place of the "Y" was in use by the Spanish Officers stationed in "Africa" (1st Inf. Regiment). The "A" for "Africa" really stands for "Marruecos."
My thanks to both of these contributors for their input. I always rely on Fernando's wise guidance and deep knowledge. Carlos also demonstrates with his in-depth observations that he is a serious student of Spanish militaria. He is currently serving in Iraq and all our best wishes are with him!
All material is Copyright 2007 by William K. Combs. No portion may be used without permission.