Early War enlisted men’s frock coats are the rarest existing
form of the Confederate uniform coat. This is because though the frock
coat was prescribed for Confederate enlisted men by the earliest
regulations, they were soon superseded by the short shell jacket, in
order to conserve hard to come by cloth. This is a beautiful example of
a cadet grey, single breasted, frock coat; not only does it have
infantry branch of service colored piping around the collar, it also has
regulation pointed cuffs, they too in infantry blue.
Even rarer than the frock pattern itself are the buttons used on
the coat. Every button is original and every button was made under
Charles Goodyear’s original patent! Even the small cuff buttons are the
original Goodyear vulcanized rubber buttons. The buttons have the
Novelty Rubber Company’s logo and Goodyear patent markings on the back.
Charles Goodyear, the inventor of the first practical, usable rubber,
spent most of his life in poverty while pursuing a dream, and died in
poverty, even after achieving that dream. After years of what can only
be called fanatical research produced workable products, he tended to
sell them for next to nothing. The Goodyear rubber company of the late
18th century took his name, but neither he nor his family
received a penny from it.
Les Jensen writes that “there are probably less than a dozen
surviving enlisted man’s frock coats” (I would suggest a few more).
This very well may be, and likely is, the only Confederate uniform coat
in existence with the original Goodyear buttons intact. The coat was
discovered in 2007 at the historic El Nido Estate in Louisville,
Kentucky. El Nido had been owned by John Leathers, a past member of the
5th Virginia Infantry. However, the name Barry Coleman is
written in period ink, inside the sleeve, leaving the War era owner in
doubt. There are too many B. Coleman’s in the Confederate Army to say
for certain which one owned the coat. Extensive research into the
Leather’s family connections could lead to the correct Barry Coleman.
The coat is in beautiful condition inside and out; it has had no
restoration, nor does it need any. It comes with the mannequin, ready