An Introduction to Evaluations of Period Military Uniforms and Building an Indian Wars Reference Books Library… by Troy R. Kinunen

MEARS (Memorabilia Evaluation and Research Services) was formed in 2004 with a vision to provide expertly conducted detailed research services of various items of sports memorabilia. 10 years later as I expanded my personal collecting interest, I was able to ascertain the similarities between the two fields of sports and military memorabilia.

Uniforms, both sports and military, contain many characteristics that can both be examined with the results applied to a set of procedures that aid in the identification and authentication of war time relics. Too often “1880’s” or Indian/Spanish America war is offered as the time frame when a proper examination and comparison to available written/photographic materials would provide a more exact dating and could either positively or negatively affect the market value.

The protocols of MEARS research involves the front end gathering of reference materials to be used for comparison, physical evaluation of item using scientific tools such as a digital microscope and light table to check for originality or alterations, conducting imagery analysis of item to available photos, and the final results detailed in a well written document which sums up all of the process along with examining provenance when applicable. This information was uploaded to the MEARSONLINE website for all interest parties to view and allow for peer review.

By archiving everything we have ever said about an item, MEARS created an unprecedented amount of accountability for the opinions we rendered.

Collectors have come to trust the MEARS brand, and many collectors now think about their own collections in a more detailed, structured manner. The process of educating yourself about the collection you have worked so hard to build is one of the most rewarding aspects of collecting. A well-researched collection is also more valuable when it is time to sell.

At MEARS, we never claimed to know everything. Actually, it is quite the opposite. We openly endorse the idea of free information sharing and exchange. Since our inception, we were committed to publish hobby related articles which dealt with many facets of evaluating, authenticating, and grading. To accomplish this, we published all of our evaluation on our website, .

I am continuing to investigate the viability of entering the evaluation / authentication of military items. Although I can never claim to have the knowledge or experience of the 1000’s of collectors that currently make up the military collecting community, I am confident that by applying the same principles that were pioneered and implemented in the MEARS sports division, we can provide credible opinions of military uniforms and gear.

As a personal interest, I have started by focusing on the Indian War Years of 1866 to 1898. Any fan of John Wayne or western cavalry movies in general have seen the genre represented on the big screen. It is a romantic genre and the actual items are very unique when you examine the textures, fabrics, colors and designs of the early Cavalry materials. I am currently working on a test article that will show my first attempt at applying the MEARS jersey authentication process to a military uniform. I will publish the results in August.

To illustrate the process, MEARS has committed to the building of a research library that will support a well researched evaluation of a period item. To do so, we have added the following materials to our permanent library:


  • Regulations and Notes for the Uniform of the Army of the United States 1872
  • The U. S. Army in the West, 1879-1880 : Uniforms, Weapons, and Equipment by…
  • US Army 1880-92 Western Uniforms Arms Equip Guide V1
  • U.S. Army Uniforms and Equipment, 1889: Specifications for Clothing, Camp and G Listed for charity
  • Survey of U.S. Army Uniforms, Weapons, and Accoutrements… by David Cole
  • Campaign Clothing: Field Uniforms of the Indian War Army, 1872-1886
  • Specifications for the Uniform of the United States Army: January 25, 1912 (1912)

Hats & Headgear

  • Hats Off: Head Dress of the U.S. Army 1872-1912 (Schiffer Military History)
  • US Army Headgear 1812-72 book Helmet Hat Civil War MORE
  • A Guide Book to U.S. Army Dress Helmets 1972-1904 By Kasal & Moore
  • United States Army Headgear 1855-1902, Cavalry of United States Army Uniforms in the Collection of the Smithsonian Institute.


  • Book American Military Insignia 1800-1851-Cap-Helmet-Belt-Plate Reg Army-Militia
  • Metal Uniform Insignia of the Frontier US Army 1846-1902 Brinckerhoff 1972
  • United States Army Grade Insignia Since 1776 – Perrenot


  • Guns of the Western Indian War by R. Stephen Dorsey (1995, Paperback)


  • Indian War Cartridge Pouches, Boxes and Carbine Boots by R. Stephen Dorsey…
  • U.S. Army and Militia Canteens, 1775-1910 by Michael J. O’Donnell
  • American Military & Naval Belts – 1812-1902
  • Details about  American Military Cartridge Belts and Related Equipment by Stephen Dorsey
  • American Military Belt Plates by O’Donnell & Campbell, First Edition Signed


  • Details about  Guide Book to the Indian War Battlefields in Eastern Wyoming, Nebraska, and Dakota


  • Indian Wars and Famous Frontiersmen: The Thrilling Story of Pioneer Life in America
  • The Great Indian Wars 1540-1890 (DVD, 2009, 2-Disc Set)
  • 2012 INDIAN WAR VETERANS: Memories of Army Life and Campaigns in the West

I am always interested in discussing collecting with fellow collectors, so if anyone has any information to share regarding collectables from the Indian Wars era, please contact me at


Troy R. Kinunen