When I bought the samples from Irregular Miniatures one of the heads I ordered was the 'EMH 4 1850's French/Italian/Austrian shako 50p'. I had thought (or hoped) that this was the same type of hat that my other French toy soldiers wear wearing (the short kepi), but it wasn't.
Instead I got a very tall shako - see left - which, I believe, is completely inappropriate for the French army of the period that I am interested in (1890-1910).
Well, I acquired Osprey's 'French Army 1870-71 Franco-Prussian War 1 - Imperial Troops' today and it seems that the French army began to replace this tall shako with the shorter kepi around 1868.
Left: French Grenadier, 1853.
From it's adoption the French kepi has evolved, from the early bec de canard (duck bill) - what we would recognise as the type worn by both sides in the American Civil War - to the pattern 1876 with a rounded visor, to the 1884 pattern which was the type used by French soldiers up to the First World War.
And so, in building a French regiment using Irregular Miniatures I have to decide whether to use their 'EMH 1 Kepi' (duck bill) or make my own heads with the later French kepi.
|Wonderful vignette called 'Last Bullets' - This shows the early 'duck bill'|
kepi typical of the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71)
Right: Pattern 1876 kepi with rounded visor.
For my little French army I would favour versions of the kepi of the 1876 pattern and later 1884 pattern.
Left: The 1884 pattern kepi with kepi covers. The covers are another thing that confuse the issue as they give the hat a slightly different look and shape!
The 1884 kepi remained with the French soldier right up and into the early years of the first world war. This is a good thing for me as it means I can use early WW1 French toy soldiers - like those made by Dorset Soldiers - knowing that the general French uniform changed little from that of the turn of the 19th century.
LOL - I am sure experts in French uniforms will find fault in my logic though!