|Description and Photograph||
Few Southern belt plates can be attributed to a specific maker. This exceedingly rare die-struck Virginia State Seal Belt Plate is an exception. The waist belt pictured here was manufactured by James Smith & Sons of New York, circa 1860. It was used in conjunction with two web belts that supported a cartridge box and a bayonet. The cross belts were pinned together at the breast and locked into position at the waist with this waist belt.
The plate bears the Virginia coat of arms, a Victorious Virtus wearing the Liberty cap, standing over an uncrowned and defeated Tyranny. The Latin motto, “Sic Semper Tyrannis” or “Thus Ever to Tyrants” arches around “Virtus” or Virtue.
There are several images of “Southern Guards” wearing this distinctive Cross and Waist Belt configuration. An image of one of these “Southern Guards” and how the belt was worn is also shown here. In the first months of 1860 men from Campbell County, Virginia organized the “Southern Guard” for local defense in response to the North’s support of the criminally insane John Brown.
In May of 1861, the “Southern Guards” joined with other Virginia units in Lynchburg and became Company B, Eleventh Virginia Infantry. A few other Virginia units also used the James Smith & Sons’ Waist Belt.
The plate is in perfect condition and has a beautiful aged patina. The web belt is in excellent condition also. The belt is stained and has turned somewhat brown with age and exposure. An original tag remains attached to the belt dated 1958, which documents that the belt was found in Philadelphia.
This belt is the very best for condition, provenance and aesthetic appeal.