1851 Buff Sword Belt and Plate
In 1851 the Army switched from White buff leather belts to brown buff. Buff leather is more stable and wears better than waxed leather. The belt as designed had two drops which attached to the sword and a metal hook to hold the sword. It also had a shoulder strap to help carry the weight. This model of belt was produced through the Civil War and went through several changes. The 1851 plate had several versions. The first version was stamped brass and lead filled like the oval US buckle. That design did not hold up in service. The weak point was the two places where it connected the slot to hold the belt to the main body of the buckle. It was quickly replaced with this version that has a three piece silver wreath applied to the brass buckle. The first version of the belt was made with buff leather and was all sewn construction. This version of the belt was produced into the Civil War. With the large numbers of belts needed during the war, some details were simplified such as the three piece wreath. The supply of buff leather was exhausted and other types of leather were used. Late in the Civil War Buff leather became available and were used. The late war belts also reflect another change that had been made. Copper rivets were added to several places in belt.
This belt is an example of the early style of 1851 Sword Belt. It has buff leather that is sewn with no rivets and the brass 1851 plate with a three piece silver wreath. The belt is complete and has the two buff leather drops. It has the buff shoulder strap. It is missing one of the small buff keepers on the shoulder strap. The leather is solid and the stitching is strong. There are no marks on the belt or buckle suggesting this belt may be an arsenal product. This belt could be pre-war.