NEAR MINT CONDITION CIRCA 1851-1855 RIFLEMAN’S BELT AND SABER BAYONET FROG

$1,500.00

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Item Code: 1000-703

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In 1839 the oval US plate was introduced for wear on a waist belt by infantry and riflemen. By 1841 the belt for riflemen was increased in width to carry the waist-mounted rifle cartridge box and the larger dragoon-style oval US plate fastening to the left end of the wearer’s waistbelt. By 1844 the wire hooks on the reverse of the plate were changed to brass studs and belt hook. In 1851 accouterment belts were to be blackened and the rifleman’s waistbelt was increased to two inches.

This belt shows all the correct characteristics for a rifleman’s belt of the period. The plate is the dragoon style, fixed on the wearer’s left. The belt is buff leather and retains its standing loop on the other end, which was intended to keep that end from drooping down by passing the plate through it. The belt also shows that it was blackened and has oxidized to a brown, as is common, from the iron in the dyes. The width is about 1 ¾ inches, which is within range of specified measurements, especially allowing for stretching and shrinkage. The interior of the belt still bears a visible and partially legible ink maker’s stamp. Our best reading is that it is a Dingee ink stamp, and very likely that of R. and H.A. Dingee, who ran the firm together until 1851. The firm had a long history of supplying US army accouterments up through the end of the Civil War.

Mounted on the belt and matching in color and condition is a buff leather frog for a saber/sword bayonet. The frog is fairly wide, the better to take the weight of the bayonet and scabbard, and is set up with a billet to pass through the slotted bar mounted on a scabbard throat once it is in the frog. The billet is then secured by buckling into a small horseshoe buckle. This would date the rig as assembled to about 1855. Scabbards for the M1855 rifle sword bayonet are fitted with a slotted bar, which seems also to be the case for early sword bayonets like the Snell, intended to upgrade M1841 rifles. (Later scabbards seem to rely mainly on a small stud at the throat, though one can’t rule out some switching of scabbards over the years.) In any case, the rig is correct for riflemen of the period who may not have been issued the 1855 pattern rifleman’s belts, which incorporated an integral frog. As such, it would be a great accompaniment to an 1855 or upgraded 1841 rifle and would fit in with an early western frontier or Civil War collection.  [sr]

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