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“FAIR WEATHER CHRISTIAN” CARTRIDGE BELT – FRONTIER MADE FOR 36 .45 CALIBER CARBINE AND RIFLE CARTRIDGES – EXCELLENT CONDITION – OUTSTANDING EARLY SOLDIER, BUFFALO HUNTER OR PLAINSMAN CARTRIDGE BELT:  These hand-crafted large caliber “Fair Weather Christian” Cartridge Belts for the .50 and .45 caliber cartridges are a genuine pleasure to own.  While not a regulation belt which can be compared to a specific reference sample, each surviving specimen is a unique product of the individual maker’s talent and ability, and the general character of these belts and the manner in which they were fashioned allows them to be easily identified to the early metallic cartridge period following the Civil War.   

This belt not only speaks of having been “there”, it was also acquired from the research collection of R. Stephen Dorsey, the author of American Military and Naval Belts, 1812-1902.  When Dorsey sold this belt, he wrote a letter of provenance which will accompany the sale of this belt.  In the text of the letter he notes that the cloth belts were less prone to form verdigris from exposure to the copper cartridge cases, a feature the army would embrace when they designed the Model 1876 Prairie Belt, and later adopted the woven Mills belts.  He also notes that these cloth Fair Weather Christian Belts are far rarer than the leather specimens due to the cloth’s susceptibility to deterioration and the extreme wear experienced on the frontier resulted in them being used to destruction.     

This belt has no specific characteristics which identify it as a soldier made or used belt, however as the soldiers and civilians alike availed themselves of the materials present on the frontier - in this case, scrap bed mattress ticking and leather - this belt was no doubt worn by a trooper, a buffalo hunter, or plainsman to carry their .45 caliber rifle or carbine.   

Measuring 38 ¾” long. Including the 10 ½” leather tongue, the belt body is fashioned from a single piece of canvas, folded so as create two layers with the stitched seam along the center of the inside face of the belt. 

The cartridge loops are formed from two strips of striped mattress ticking. Both pieces of ticking are folded double and stitched along a seam running the length of the belt and positioned against the body of the belt.  One strip, with the stripes oriented parallel to the body of the belt, forms 29 cartridge loops.  The second strip, with the stripes oriented perpendicular to the body of the belt, forms the remaining seven cartridge loops.  All of the loops are intact, are full form, and are still held securely in place by the stitching.  

The leather tongue and the period iron roller buckle are stitched to the canvas body and both are secure and in very good condition.    

All the features of this belt indicate that it most 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.  Whether displayed with an early Indian War soldier’s weapons and accoutrements, or a Sharps or Remington single shot rifle and other items from a buffalo hunter’s outfit, this belt will make an important addition to your collection. (0120)  $1450






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