US MODEL 1851 ENLISTED SWORD BELT PLATE

$250.00 SOLD

Quantity Available: None

Item Code: 1055-03

The “rectangular eagle belt plate,” was introduced in 1851 as the regulation buckle for US soldiers carrying swords. This included all officers, as well as enlisted men in the cavalry (dragoons at the time,) artillery, and non-commissioned officers of infantry. The motif is the same on all plates: the arms of the United States, consisting of a spread-winged eagle with a ribbon in its beak reading E Pluribus Unum, clutching arrows and an olive branch, with stars and sun rays overhead and a silver wreath below. Officers usually purchased higher quality plates from military goods dealers that had a wreath cast integrally with the plate, but given a silver wash, as might be done also to the stars. Enlisted men were issued plates that made use of a separately applied nickel silver wreath. The irony is that after 150 years the nickel silver (aka “German silver’) usually retains its color while the officers’ plates long ago lost their thin silver wash.

This is an early war version of the enlisted plate designed for the prewar and early war narrower waistbelt and using a wreath applied in three pieces. The color is good. Some lacquer remains on the borders. The reverse shows the casting was produced in hurry, leaving the reverse impression of the eagle in the mold, and the hook was separately applied. A three-digit bench number is stamped in the reverse edge of the plate just below the hook. These numbers were used by the maker to keep the plate and hasp together after they underwent some necessary hand filing and fitting before they could be sent on for fitting on a sword belt.  [SR]

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