Old South Military Antiques

Corrected text-Virginia Cavalry Belt
Item #: OS-7267





In 1860, sensing the conflict to come, the state of Virginia purchased cavalry swords from Ames Manufacturing Company of Chicopee, Massachusetts. With each sword necessarily came a sword belt. Ames contracted with Emerson Gaylord of the same city to provide the belts. The belts were identical to the U.S. Model 1851 sword belts, with two exceptions; one, the white was dyed black and two, the belt secured the keeper side of the buckle with two stitches in a cross pattern, whereas the U.S. Model 1851 keeper was secured with two copper rivets. Thus, the collector can tell an original Virginia belt from its U.S. counterpart. The second change was the belt plate. The U.S. belt carried the Model 1851 plate bearing an eagle within a wreath. The Virginia belt plate was unique, in that it bore the state seal of Virginia, "Virtus”, or Virtue, standing over a defeated "tyranny” and bore the Latin motto "Sic Semper Tyrannis” or "Thus ever to Tyrants”. Gaylord produced a very high quality plate by first casting and then die stamping to bring out the detail in the Virginia state seal. After casting and die stamping the face, the tongue was brazed on and a keeper was fitted. The highest known number is in the 900 range and it is believed that no more than 1000 were ever produced.

These belts originally had an additional shoulder strap that connected to the brass D ring in the front, ran over the cavalryman’s shoulder and attached to the brass ring in the back in order to support the weight of the sword and a revolver, cartridge and cap box.

The sword belts and swords were issued to the First Virginia Cavalry, though some of those members were later in the 2nd Virginia Cavalry and perhaps even the 3rd. Numerous images of 1st and 2nd Virginia Cavalry wearing these belts exist.

This plate was struck with the number 600 and the keeper 261, meaning that they did not start life together. This example is not on its original Emerson Gaylord belt, however there is no doubt at all that this is the belt that it was used with during the War, and this belt has the tooled border of a Confederate manufactured belt. The plate’s face has great detail and patina. The belt is very strong, with no weak places. Stitching is original and tight.

It is not perfect, but it is a bargain!

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