CIVIL WAR NEW YORK OFFICER’S SWORD BELT PLATE

$695.00

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 1156-29

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These plates followed the lines of the U.S. Model 1851 sword belt plate to be worn by officers and by enlisted men armed with swords. The difference between the two was mostly in the lower quality of the issue enlisted plates and higher quality of those purchased by officers. Both plates substitute “NY” in Old English letters, surrounded by a wreath, in place of the arms of the U.S. used on the federal plates. This is a very good example of the officer’s plate, with the wreath and letters crisply defined on a stippled ground. O’Donnell and Campbell illustrate a similar example as Plate 675, differing only in minor details of the lettering, but with a broad tongue like this, which they note shows up frequently in late war sites, though as a privately made commercial product it could well have been made earlier. They note their example was likely cast in a plaster or metal mold and given a follow-up strike to improve the detail, which might be the case here as well.

The condition is very good, with a medium tone to the brass and some dark spotting, but very nice detail. On the reverse of the plate, on each of the side bars and some other spots that would have been protected by the belt or from being worn against the body, some of the gilt finish remains. The wreath also shows some gray in recesses of the leaves, likely tarnished silver from the wash applied to the wreath, characteristic of federal officer’s plates as well.

The reverse of the plate bears a bench number “123 A,” on edge near the belt tongue. We do not see a number on the hasp, but the fit is perfect and the patina is a match, indicating they have been together forever, so the number may be less a mating number than an inventory number.

This would display very well with an officer’s grouping or fill a gap in belt plate collection as well.  [sr] [ph:m/L]

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