Boyle, Gamble & Macfee Belt
Item #: OS-5062
There are no maker marked Confederate made belt buckles. Yet, there are a rare few buckles whose makers are known. So how are the few whose maker is identified, identified? It comes back to the sword. Whenever a sword was purchased, whether it was by government contract for cavalry swords, or an officer’s private purchase, the sword came with a belt. The belt was absolutely necessary, so collectors have identified the various Leech and Rigdon buckles by their association with Leech and Rigdon swords. The College Hill two piece sword belt buckle, the Thomas, Griswold & Company patterns, the Boyle and Gamble oval two piece sword belt buckle, the Firman & Sons navy buckle and the Haiman two piece buckle were all identified by the swords associated with them. Considering the many various patterns of Confederate buckles that exist, these few that are identified are a painfully small group. Due to a recent discovery one more can be added to this small list of maker identified buckles and plates.
Virtually nothing was known of the rarity 10 plate, identified as plate 118 in Steve Mullinax’s Confederate Belt Buckles and Plates, Expanded Edition. It was described simply as "CSA” mounted on a raised oval, all solid cast and noted that the illustrated example was dug in Chesterfield, Virginia.
Last year (2015) the sword and belt of Lieutenant Edward R. Cryer was purchased from a family in Texas. The sword was a Boyle, Gamble & Macfee foot officer’s pattern with the earliest style Boyle & Gamble mounts on the leather scabbard. This would date it to 1861 which fits right in with Cryer’s history. Edward R. Cryer entered service in what would become Company D, 2nd Tennessee Infantry, at Hartsville, Tennessee, April 25, 1861 as a 2nd Lieutenant. The 2nd Tennessee would be heading to Virginia and May 14th found Lieutenant Cryer in Lynchburg, Virginia. Being a newly minted Lieutenant, Cryer no doubt was anxious to get a sword. Whether he was able to acquire the Richmond, Virginia made sword in Lynchburg or procured it in Richmond is unknown, but I would guess the latter. The regiment received its baptism of fire at Aquia Creek, Virginia on June 1, 1861 and was present at the Battle of Bull Run on July 21, 1861. On February 9, 1862, Cryer’s regiment was transferred to the Western Theatre and served with the Army of Tennessee until Lieutenant Cryer was killed at the Battle of Shiloh during the 1st day’s fight.
Though there are precious few of these rare Boyle, Gamble & Macfee CSA plates known, this is the only one still retaining its numbered, matched, original keeper; both plate and keeper are number 27. It is the only known example still on its original belt. The belt is patent leather over cotton webbing. Though some of the patent leather is missing, the webbing remains strong enough to mount the belt on a mannequin. The plate has what can only be described as the "perfect” patina.
This is perhaps the once in a lifetime opportunity to own what is arguably the best, most attractive Confederate in existence.
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