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National Museum of Australia

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Pair of spurs from Light Horse uniform

2013.0024.0006

Pair of spurs from Light Horse uniform

Object information

Physical description

A pair of riding spurs made from metal and dark brown leather. They have a horse-shoe shaped metal heel band, with a straight shank holding a spinning metal disc or rowel. The rowel has radiating metal points of alternating size. Leather spur straps are attached to the heel band, and each features a metal buckle on the outside foot position, and a slotted leather pad threaded onto each of the upper straps. The leatherwork is detailed with both stitching and metal fixings.

Statement of significance

The James Taylor Light Horse collection comprises a largely complete Light Horse uniform that is tied to the personal story of James Samuel Taylor, a farrier attached to the 9th Light Horse Regiment in WWI. In the collection, Taylor's tunic, leather leggings, kit bag and pay book bear his name or regimental number, and it is likely that a number of other parts of the uniform belonged to him. Significantly, the uniform also has a history beyond its use in the war: possibly worn by Taylor at Anzac Day marches, it was later owned and added to by militaria dealers and a collector. It is through this longer history that Taylor's uniform helps to reveal how Australia and Australians have memorialised and valued surviving objects from WWI.

Horses remained central to the lives of many Australians at the outbreak of WWI. In rural and urban areas, horses were still used for transport, as a source of motive power and for entertainment. Consequently, there was a ready pool of skilled horsemen among those men who enlisted in Australia's Light Horse regiments. Among them were men like James Taylor, a farrier, whose trade enabled him to assist in the care and ongoing use of horses during WWI. In the decades since, it is the Light Horseman, his uniform topped by the distinctive emu-plumed slouch hat and mounted on a Waler, that has arguably become the most iconic representation of Australia's involvement in the conflict.

Object information

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