REGULATION 1851 PATTERN U.S. OFFICER’S SWORD BELT PLATE

$225.00 SOLD

Quantity Available: None

Item Code: 286-538

The rectangular sword belt plate bearing the Arms of the United States was introduced in 1851 as the regulation buckle for officers and for enlisted men armed with swords. The central motif is an eagle with American shield on its chest, clutching arrows and olive branch, surrounded by stars overhead and wreath below, along with a ribbon flowing from its beak emblazoned with the motto E Pluribus Unum. Enlisted men were issued their plates; officers had to purchase their own. Before the war the number was limited, but with the expansion of the army in 1861 many manufacturer’s made them and there is a variety of die strikes. The common element is that the officers’ plates tend to be higher quality than the enlisted versions. The issue plates made do with a nickel silver applied wreath. Commercially produced plates for officers usually featured a silver wash for a wreath cast integrally with the plate and often silver washes for the stars over the eagle as well.

This one shows some wear, but is a good example of the officer’s plate. It has an undisturbed, aged patina with some dark areas to the brass. As is usual, any thin silver wash is long gone. The side bar shows a little distortion from the pulling of the belt. There is a small ding at the lower center border and some rubbing on the high spots of the design that has lightened brass slightly in spots, a fairly common occurrence. The long narrow belt hook is in place on the reverse.

This is a good example of the wartime Union officer’s belt buckle and is a very typical memento preserved by a family that had a member serving as an officer in the war.  [sr]

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