US MODEL 1851 OFFICER’S SWORD BELT AND SCARCE SOLDER-BACKED PLATE

$1,500.00

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 1052-222

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This is the regulation sword belt for U.S. officers in the Civil War. The rectangular eagle belt plate with the arms of the U.S. is an early style, likely prewar or very early war, made of stamped rolled brass with a lead solder filled reverse, like the enlisted men’s oval US plates, where the vast majority of officer and enlisted versions were solid brass. (See O’Donnell and Campbell plate 626 for example.) The quality of the die work, however, was correspondingly very good, with the eagle and other elements set on a stippled ground. As an officer’s belt rig this would have been commercially produced and privately purchased and the wreath and perhaps the stars given a thin silver wash, now worn off. The reverse of the plate has a small mating or bench number “45,” which matches the hasp. There some final hand finishing and fitting used on these, so the numbering was essential in keeping them together until mounted on the belt.  The belt is the usual officer’s style, made of a high grade, good looking, but thin leather sewn over an inner core, usually a canvas web, for sturdiness. The sword slings are suspended from fixed chapes on the belt using oval brass loops and still have their swivel snap hooks and the carrying hook in place.

The edges of the belt show some rubs and abrasions showing a light brown and there is some cracking and edge loss just behind the forward, shorter sling with some signs of an old glue repair. The wear is typical of these belts, with the more expensive, higher-grade leather less robust than simple, plain, solid leather enlisted men’s belts, but still subject to field wear. Nevertheless, the belt is stable, complete and displays very well.

The inside of the belt shows old initials “LHT.” The back of the belt plate has “L.H. Thompson” (with the H somewhat sloppy) scratched into it. We cannot eliminate the possibility of a state officer with no U.S. service owning the belt, but suspicion settles on two officers listed as “L. Thompson” with no middle initial given, one in the 211th PA and the other in the 2nd US Cavalry, and perhaps most promising, Lawrence H. Thompson of the 73rd NY, the 4th Regiment Excelsior Brigade, a great, fighting unit, who made 2nd Lieutenant in August 1862, 1st Lieutenant November 1862, Adjutant May 1863, Captain, September 1863, and Major, October 1864, mustering out with the regiment in June 1865.  [sr] [ph:m]

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