Old South Military Antiques

Virginia Plate with Original Keeper!
Item #: OS-7434



In 1860 the state of Virginia sent 1,000 of the heavy Virginia Manufactory cavalry swords that they had in storage to Emerson Gaylord of Chicopee, Massachusetts. Under contract to Virginia, Gaylord shortened the swords and reshaped their blades to more closely resemble the Model 1860 Light Cavalry Sword. He then manufactured from scratch a scabbard of iron to fit the newly shaped swords that looked just exactly like the production Model 1860 Light Cavalry scabbards made in the North, with the exception that brass was used for the ring mounts rather than iron. This was fortunate for the modern collector; otherwise we would not be able to identify the correct scabbards for these rare swords.

A sword without a belt was of little use, so the State of Virginia also contracted with Gaylord to produce 1,000 sword belts to accompany these swords. The sword belt plate was to bear the Virginia Coat of Arms, a defeated Tyrannis (Tyranny) underfoot of Virtus (Virtue) surrounded by the 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 brass Virginia State Seal. After casting and die stamping the face, the tongue was brazed on and a keeper was fitted. Both the keeper and the plate were then struck with a matching number in order to keep them together until they were sewn onto the buff leather sword belt. In this case, number 101 is struck in the correct location on the upper left reverse corner, and remarkably the plate retains its original number 101 keeper. This is virtually unheard of simply because once off of the belt, the small keepers are very easily lost. I do not recall ever seeing another Gaylord Virgina Plate with its original keeper, unless it was still on the belt.

These attractive Sword Belt Plates would have been used primarily by members of the early Virginia Cavalry regiments, most notably the 1st Virginia Cavalry.

The non-excavated example shown here has crisp detail and even retains its perfect, original body curve. Minor scratches are the only imperfections to this wonderful plate. While many of the Gaylord Virginia Plates survive, those with the original keeper are all but non existent.

If you want the very best, this is it!

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