Book Review: United States Army Cap Insignia, 1902-1975, by Michael F. Tucker

Covering officer and enlisted visor cap insignia of pre-WWI, WW1, WWII, the Korean War and through Vietnam and the early Cold War, this is one of the books you need to buy immediately before it becomes an “out-of-print” standard selling for $300.
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Cover; United States Army Cap Insignia, 1902-1975, by Michael F. Tucker

United States Army Cap Insignia, 1902-1975, by Michael F. Tucker, published at $78

United States Army Cap Insignia, 1902-1975, by Michael F. Tucker (ISBN: 978-1636612973, Dorrance Publishing Co., 585 Alpha Drive, Suite 103, Pittsburgh, PA 15238; www.dorrancebookstore.com. Hardcover, 306 pages, more than 1,000 color and b/w illustrations, 2021, $78.00)

The Continental Congress adopted the Great Seal in 1782. A century later, the US Army stipulated that the Great Seal would be used for a cap insignia. By 1902, it became the standard insignia on officers caps and remains so to this day.

United States Army Cap Insignia traces the evolution of the iconic eagle hat device that was worn through most of the 20th century. Author Michael Tucker stumbled into this study unwittingly, however. Like so many other collectors, he was focused on an entirely different area of militaria when he began to notice subtle differences in US Army visor cap insignia. What began as a casual awareness evolved into a systematic study of cap eagles over a 25-year period.

The result is this magnificent volume — the kind collectors love. Organized chronologically, the book not only illustrates the fronts and backs of eagle insignia, it delves into the slight nuances and variations while attributing to particular manufacturers and assigning a rarity level.

Interspersed are profiles of many manufacturers, period advertisements, and a wealth of historic photography illustrating the eagles in use on visor caps. The first half of the book is dedicated to Army officer and enlisted cap insignia through WWII, the second half of the book covers the insignia up to 1975 when the Institute of Heraldry standardized the design. In addition, Tucker examines cap insignia unique to the Sergeant Major of the Army, Warrant Officers, Specials Corps, Air Transport Command, Aviation Cadets, WAAC and WACs, Transport Service, and Harbor Boat Service.

The appendices are filled with detailed and specialized information any US military insignia will appreciate, including alphanumeric codes assigned by the Heraldic Program Office, an explanation of fire gilding and the gold fill process, a look at bullion variations, sweetheart jewelry, plastic cap eagles and backings, as well as an introduction to the “Cuban Eagle.”

With a foreword and endorsement by the preeminent US Army insignia scholar, Lt. Col (Ret.) William K. Emerson, United States Army Cap Insignia takes its place on the shelf of standard research material for any collector, student, or dealer of 20th century U.S. Army insignia and uniforms. It is one of the books you need to buy immediately before it becomes an “out-of-print” standard selling for $300. —JAG

Note: Author Michael Tucker has a limited number of signed copies available: Author-Signed Copies

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