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ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL EXPERIMENTAL MODEL 1876 PRAIRIE BELT – VERY RARE CARTRIDGE BELT IN VERY GOOD CONDITION:  One of only 100 of these belts so modified, this is a prime example of this very rare belt in very good condition, and in fact is the very same belt pictured on page 250 of American Military and Naval Belts, 1812-1902 by R. Stephen Dorsey, acquired from the author’s research collection.   

This true Experimental Model 1876 Prairie Belt was manufactured at the Rock Island Arsenal and includes the three unique features that identify this belt:  50 cartridge loops; the cartridge loops are not varnished as they were the standard issue prairie belts; and, an additional leather belt strap attached on the inside of the right side of the canvas belt attached by a line of stitching between the 18th and 19th cartridge loops.  The interior strap was added so that the soldier could carry the Model 1873 Angular Bayonet or the Model 1873 Trowel Bayonet, or other accoutrements such as a rifle or carbine cartridge pouch, or pistol cartridge pouch that had been modified to use with this belt. 

The inside of the canvas belt is stenciled “RIA Experimental 1 M”.  It is interesting to note that I have had one other of these rare belts that was stenciled “53 M”, and apparently they were both once in the inventory of the same regiment and company. The inside tip of the leather tongue is stamped with the Rock Island “Rising Sun” stamp, although only the outline of the stamp is clearly legible, and the “ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL” text is only partially and barely legible.  The leather tongue shows some wear and surface crazing.  The interior belt strap shows some evidence of use, but the leather surface is overall smooth and shiny.  The canvas belt is in very good condition with no wear to the edges of the cartridge loops, the bottom seam is fully intact, and there is only a slight wear spot on the interior of the belt where it appears the canvas snagged on another piece of the soldier’s equipment.   

Considerably less common than the early two piece Mills H plates and belts, this very nice example of a rare early Indian War experimental belt is an important cartridge belt to add to your collection.  (0216)  $2,475



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