CIVIL WAR US MODEL 1851 ENLISTEDMAN’S SWORD BELT PLATE: ALLEGHENY ARSENAL

$275.00 SOLD

Quantity Available: None

Item Code: 1110-87

This is a scarce and early-war or prewar example of a U.S. Allegheny Arsenal marked enlisted man’s sword belt plate. The pattern was regulation for cavalrymen, artillerymen armed with the saber or short sword, and infantry sergeants, who would carry the 1840 NCO sword. Officers were authorized the same pattern, but privately purchased their own equipment, usually of better quality and workmanship, with the key difference of an integrally cast wreath.

The plate is rectangular, gilt brass, with integral side loop for the belt, and fastening hook on the reverse that engages a hasp on the other end of the belt. The applied German (nickel) silver wreath surrounds the “arms of the U.S.” (an eagle with arrows and olive branch, with E Pluribus Unum ribbon, with stars and “glory” or sunburst breaking through clouds overhead.) The reverse has a long narrow, flat belt hook and the impressed mark: “US / ALLEGHENY / ARSENAL.”

Allegheny Arsenal received its first order for these in 1853, eventually produced three or four versions with slightly different eagles, and ceased making them when the pattern changed to having the tips of the wreath end below the eagle’s wings in late 1861. Allegheny, and a few private makers, solved the problem of the wreath extending above the wing tips by putting slots under the wings rather than applying three separate pieces.

When the Civil War broke out production of these plates shifted to contractors in order to supply the huge numbers of new recruits. This is a nice example of the plate as produced by the government itself. Thee brass and wreath have a nice, mellow patina with some scattered brown age spots and one small fleck of verdigris, but very good detail to the casting and comes with the correct hasp. This is a key piece in a collection of American military belt plates and Civil War gear.  [sr]

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