RARE CLASSIC CONFEDERATE WISHBONE BUCKLE ON THE ORIGINAL BELT FROM THE FIRST DAY’S FIELD AT GETTYSBURG, EX-SHIELDS MUSEUM

$6,950.00 SOLD

Quantity Available: None

Item Code: 490-2444

The wishbone or forked-tongue buckle was widely made throughout the south and is found in several variations, but is very seldom seen on its original leather, much less with a Gettysburg provenance from the Shields Museum and the first day’s battlefield. The belt is in excellent condition, made of black bridle leather with grained interior showing brown, measuring 1 7/8 inches wide and a tad over 33-inches from the center bar of the buckle to the tip of the belt. The belt is solid and has an excellent surface showing just minor crazing and wear and pierced with four pairs of holes for the two-prongs of the buckle tongue. The buckle is secured by an overlap around the middle bar, extending back about 1 1/8 inch and held by a row of stitching along either edge and one across the end of the overlap. The buckle has wonderful color, mostly an aged brass patina, with just a little thin green here and there. This was obviously a very early battlefield pickup.

This has a wonderfully tight provenance through Tom Bohon to the Shields Museum, which opened here in town in 1925 and rivaled the Danner collection and Rosensteel’s Round Top Museum for its collection of Gettysburg artifacts. (In fact, Arthur Shields was son-in-law to John Rosensteel.) Shields’ daughter Ellen took over the operation in 1950 and in 1974 she offered one of our early and regular customers, Tom Bohon, of Greencastle, Pa., the chance to buy one display case full of artifacts entirely recovered on the first day’s battlefield. This was literally just to create more floor space and the deal was “all or nothing.” He had the immense good sense to take it. The Shields museum holdings were eventually dispersed by auction after the park service bought the property in 1985, but Tom held on to his pieces, which were only sold after his death in 2019.

The Shields Museum itself was located on the first day’s battlefield, near the Reynolds equestrian statue, so it is fitting in some ways that the Tom’s purchase was entirely material from that field. In any case, this would be a rare and desirable Confederate belt rig no matter where it was found, but coming from Gettysburg and in this condition, it is exceptional. It would be a remarkable addition to a Confederate or Gettysburg collection.  [sr]

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