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"FAIR WEATHER CHRISTIAN" CARTRIDGE BELT - EXCELLENT FRONTIER CAVALRY LOOPED CARTRIDGE BELT FOR .50 CARBINE AND .44 PISTOL CARTRIDGES - w/ APPLIED WREATH EAGLE PLATE:  One of the most iconic pieces of frontier related equipment, these well documented, soldier or saddler made “Fair Weather Christian” belts for the metallic cartridges of the early Indian War period are a genuine pleasure to own.  While not a regulation piece of equipment, and each surviving specimen being a unique product of the maker’s talent and ability, the general character of these belts and the manner in which they were fashioned allow them to be easily identified to the early Indian War period prior to the issue of the Model 1876 Prairie Belts.  

This belt is particularly unique as it is not only fashioned with 23 .50 caliber cartridge loops; it also was fitted with six .44 caliber loops on each side of the front of the belt for a total of 12 pistol cartridge loops.  The soldier who wore this belt was obviously equipped with one of the early .44 caliber revolvers – Colt Richardson, Smith & Wesson American – the twelve .44 loops provided him with two complete reloads for his pistol, and this alone strongly suggests he was a cavalry trooper. 

This unique belt is fashioned using a basic waist belt, to which strip of finished leather has been stitched to form the .50 caliber loops.  Two separate strips were added – one at each end of the strip forming the carbine cartridge loops – which formed the .44 caliber loops.  The forward end of the pistol cartridge loop strips incorporated an interesting method of securing the ends of the belt and providing a means of adjusting the length of the belt – important as the number of layers of clothing worn by the soldier would dramatically affect the fit of the belt.  The forward end of the strap covers the base of a copper rivet, capturing the rivet in place so that the shaft protrudes through the belt, and the body of the belt is adjusted and secured by setting the exposed portion of the shaft into one of a series of holes punched in the belt. 

The belt is full length with no excessive wear or damage.  All of the stitching is intact and all of the loops are full form with no breaks or splits.  The surface of the leather of the base belt and the loops shows the expected signs of use and wear, with some light crazing, but the surface retains a nice shiny finish and there is no flaking or surface loss.    

The Model 1851 Enlisted Man's “Applied Wreath-Eagle” Sabre Belt Plate shows the appropriate use, but is still full form with no damage and the wreath firmly attached and intact.  

The features of this belt strongly suggest the soldier who wore this belt certainly saw service on the frontier during the early Indian Wars.  The scarcity of these Fair Weather Christian belts cannot be overstated as most did not survive the hard use to which they were exposed, and the few that do remain in private collections normally move from one owner to the next on the infrequent occasions when they are offered for sale, almost never appearing on the open market.   That this belt features both the .50 caliber and .44 caliber loops sets it apart as a very significant specimen and one that would be a highlight in any early Indian Wars collection.  (0424) $3500



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