FANTASTIC NAMED CONFEDERATE COTTON BELT - PUBLISHED IN BOOK ON CIVIL WAR RELICS

$7,500.00

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Item Code: 33-244

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This unique Confederate belt was published on page 228 of “THE ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF AMERICAN CIVIL WAR RELICS” by Stephen W. Sylvia and Michael J. O’Donnell in 1978. It was originally part of the Russ Pritchard collection and comes with some documentation described below.

The body of the belt is made of woven cotton with a leather tip on each end. One patch of leather is square and is used to anchor an upside down Pattern 1839 oval “US” plate. The opposite edge has a rectangular strip of leather with four adjustment holes to accommodate the plates tongue.

The belt meas. approx. 2.00 inches wide by 29.75 inches long. The surface has light dirt but is otherwise in outstanding condition. There are no rips or tears. The first two adjustment holes in the leather do show some wear.

The oval “US” plate has a very nice patina to the face along with some surface scratches and small dings. The inside of the letter “U” is stamped with a small number “7” over the number “17.” The reverse of the plate has 100% of the lead fill. On close examination one can see that this was originally a box plate that was converted to a belt plate by adding brass or copper “puppy-paw” hooks and a tongue.

Handwritten in period ink on the face of the belt near the plate is the name “R L WARD. TEXAS.” This is done in block lettering with the letters being 1.00 inch in height.

This belt surfaced at Bannerman’s in New York City where it was purchased by Syd Kerksis. Then in 1958, he sold it to Russ Pritchard who kept it till 1982. In that year it was sold at the summer Gettysburg show. Now, after passing through several collections, the belt has resurfaced for sale. A letter from Mr. Pritchard giving its history comes with the belt.

At this point the name on the belt must be addressed. Research done in the mid 1980’s, before the internet, caused the previous owner to settle on a Confederate soldier named Rudy Ward who served in an Alabama regiment and later, after the war, moved to Texas. All the documentation present with the belt relating to Rudy Ward shows no middle initial. It was not until confirming the ID for this listing that we discovered Rudy Ward’s middle initial was actually R and not L. The document providing this information was Mr. Ward’s death certificate. This finding casts doubt on Rudy Ward being the “R. L. WARD” whose name appears on the belt.

In light of the above, a further search was made of soldiers from Texas with the last name of Ward. Unfortunately none were found bearing the middle initial “L”. However, several were found with no middle initial listed. These men are:

Rus Ward 23rd Texas Cavalry

Ruffin Ward 20th Texas Infantry

Robert Ward 22nd Texas Infantry

R. Ward 9th Texas Infantry.

The military records for these four men were then consulted but failed to reveal a middle initial for any of them. Deeper digging is needed and must be left to any future owner.

Despite not being able to supply a definite identification this is still a very rare, unique and well-known Confederate belt worthy of any museum or collection.  [ad]

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