M1851 Buff Leather Sword Belt with Original Buff Shoulder Strap
M1851 Buff Leather Sword Belt with Original Buff Shoulder Strap - This belt is a fine example of the early, original buff leather, Model 1851, sword belt worn by Federal enlisted cavalrymen prior to and during Civil War. It remains In overall excellent and complete condition, with its original, bench numbered, regulation 1851 pattern, brass NCO eagle belt plate, with its matching numbered keeper; the belt plate has a three piece, applied silver wreath, with the ends of the wreath appearing above the eagle’s wing tips. Both long and short leather sword straps and the brass cavalry hook are present, as well as the rare and original buff shoulder strap. Constructed of strong buff leather, the belt measures 37″ long, 1¾” wide and exhibits a surface that was dyed black on its exterior side, per army regulations of 1851. The interior of both the belt and strap retain their original buff / beige color, as they were not dyed. The leather is in excellent condition with no cracking or flaking; some folding or creased areas are visible, as well as some traces of aged verdigris. Stamped or stenciled on the interior side, beneath the excess length of the belt that threads through the loop element of the belt plate, is the contractor or maker’s name – “J. Pitman” – Pitman was a well known pre-war and war period contractor, who supplied a variety of accouterments and accouterment plates.
The end of the leather belt is run through the rectangular M1851 brass sword belt plate loop and clasped together by means of the early style, flattened brass hook. A separate leather adjuster loop secures the connection. The brass keeper is sewn (early style) to the opposite end of the leather belt. Both the plate and its keeper are benchmarked with the same number “84”. Stitched to the belt exterior, near the keeper, are two, brass D-ring suspension loops that served to anchor the over-the-shoulder strap and short sword strap. Unlike most extant examples of this belt, where the leather shoulder strap is missing, the shoulder strap is still with this example. This belt retains its original pair of 2″ long, horizontal leather loops that are stitched on the exterior surface and secure a large, square, 1¾” brass suspension ring which supports the long saber strap and anchors the over-the-shoulder strap.
The regulation 1851 pattern, brass, eagle waist belt plate is the rectangular, concave, detailed plate that measures 88.9 mm long x 54 mm high, the cast brass plate has an integral tongue on the reverse and the three-piece, nickel-silver wreath with the tips reaching above the eagle’s wings. The wreath remains strongly secured to the front face. The plate face has an even, untouched, aged patina and exhibits well-defined edges.
The longer sword strap hanger’s total length measures 14”. The integral brass “D” ring also suspends the brass sword hook. The shorter sword strap hanger’s total length measures 7.25″ long, with both ends looped back. Both straps would loop through the suspension rings on the trooper’s scabbard. The original, buff over-the-shoulder strap measures 39” in length; it appears to have been shortened slightly at one end. All of the brass hardware retains a nice, aged patina.