Please help me ID these old US Navy buckles

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davebleedsblue

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Thanks for any assistance in advance. I’ve recently acquired these and am having trouble penning down their age.

This first one was listed as “early US Navy”:
https://imgur.com/a/gM0wN

This one was listed as “1880s”:
https://imgur.com/a/M2HFd

Not looking to sell these so I’m really just wanting to know how old they are. The first one has a left facing eagle and 6 cannonballs at the bottom, and the second one has a right facing eagle with 3 cannonballs. I was reading that the left/right facing eagle depends on whether we’re at war or not but that could be wrong.

Anyways, thanks for any help! I found several books about Navy buckles on Amazon but I really don’t want to pay $40 for a book I’ll need for a few minutes.
 
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Michael W.

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Both are post-Civil War. Note the striated lines in the backfield, and the cannon balls under the anchor. CW belt plates do not have these. The first plate is actually a 1941 pattern. Note the eagle is facing right instead of left. The second one I think may actually be a late 1860's to early 1870's era plate. I can't tell from the pics, is that plate one piece or two? The 1876 pattern shows the eagle facing left and looking straight across, with 6 cannonballs under the anchor. The 1905 pattern shows the eagle facing left, head looking up, with 6 cannonballs under the anchor. Yours has the eagle looking straight across, with 3 cannonballs under the anchor, which leads me to believe that it is post-Civil War to 1876. I'm not the belt plate expert, there are others here that can chime in, perhaps @ucvrelics.com can weigh in. I'll post some pics for examples.
 

Michael W.

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20180212_103154.jpg
20180212_105910.jpg
20180212_102155.jpg
The first pic is the 1876 pattern. Pic #2 is a standard Civil War general service Navy officers plate, two-piece. Pic #3 shows the 1905 pattern on the left, and 1941 pattern on the right.
 

davebleedsblue

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Both are post-Civil War. Note the striated lines in the backfield, and the cannon balls under the anchor. CW belt plates do not have these. The first plate is actually a 1941 pattern. Note the eagle is facing right instead of left. The second one I think may actually be a late 1860's to early 1870's era plate. I can't tell from the pics, is that plate one piece or two? The 1876 pattern shows the eagle facing left and looking straight across, with 6 cannonballs under the anchor. The 1905 pattern shows the eagle facing left, head looking up, with 6 cannonballs under the anchor. Yours has the eagle looking straight across, with 3 cannonballs under the anchor, which leads me to believe that it is post-Civil War to 1876. I'm not the belt plate expert, there are others here that can chime in, perhaps @ucvrelics.com can weigh in. I'll post some pics for examples.
Amazing - thanks so much!! The second one is indeed two pieces, and it makes sense that it’s earlier - I paid $125 for the belt and buckle together. The first one I paid $50 for.
 
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Michael W.

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Amazing - thanks so much!! The second one is indeed two pieces, and it makes sense that it’s earlier - I paid $125 for the belt and buckle together. The first one I paid $50 for.
That answers that question. If it is two piece, it's pre-1876. So that narrows it down to a 10 year period. post 1865 to 1876. For the plate and the belt, 125.00 is not a bad price at all. Pretty good actually, considering a authentic CW officer's plate and belt runs 700 to 1,000.
 

James N.

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Unfortunately, I believe the first one you pictured is one of the common ca. 1960's-1970's fakes that were commonly seen at every gun show of the period that has been artificially aged to look "old". Most of those were naturally Confederate Navy or Marine Corps but there were supposed "Federal" examples as well.
 

Michael W.

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Unfortunately, I believe the first one you pictured is one of the common ca. 1960's-1970's fakes that were commonly seen at every gun show of the period that has been artificially aged to look "old". Most of those were naturally Confederate Navy or Marine Corps but there were supposed "Federal" examples as well.[/Q
Unfortunately, I believe the first one you pictured is one of the common ca. 1960's-1970's fakes that were commonly seen at every gun show of the period that has been artificially aged to look "old". Most of those were naturally Confederate Navy or Marine Corps but there were supposed "Federal" examples as well.
James, so you think the 1941 pattern like one with the eagle facing right is a repro? Or the one with the belt? Again, I'm not the expert on these things...
 
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James N.

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James, so you think the 1941 pattern like plate with the eagle facing right is a repro? Or the one with the belt? Again, I'm not the expert on these things...
The top one; the one with the belt is an original, but I don't know enough about these to speculate on its age.
 
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davebleedsblue

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Nice plates, I like both of them. Still neat no matter what era they are from. I like the 2 piece one. Thanks for posting them. I am not much into Navy stuff, but I like them both.
Thanks! Yeah, the belt is really fragile and torn in one or two places. Gives it character but I have to be gentle with it.
 

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navy-1.JPG


Below is a CW period 2 piece Navy belt plate. Notice the bench marks of the back so that when they came out of the tumbler they knew which tongue went with each wreath. CW period Navy plates did not have lines but were stippled backgrounds.
STUPID ME! @ucvrelics.com thanks for reminding me of the dead giveaway on these now "old" fakes - buckles like these were intended to be the style known variously as tongue-in-wreath, "spoon", etc. As you can see, the idea is for the center roundel to fit into the surrounding wreath and lock in place. This called for too much trouble in hand fitting and finishing, so they just soldered a crappy "lip" on the back to engage in a slot on the keeper; no authentic period buckle was made this way!

bGvtbAT.jpg
 
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davebleedsblue

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View attachment 177257



STUPID ME! @ucvrelics.com thanks for reminding me of the dead giveaway on these now "old" fakes - buckles like these were intended to be the style known variously as tongue-in-wreath, "spoon", etc. As you can see, the idea is for the center roundel to fit into the surrounding wreath and lock in place. This called for too much trouble in hand fitting and finishing, so they just soldered a crappy "lip" on the back to engage in a slot on the keeper; no authentic period buckle was made this way!

View attachment 177258
Hmm interesting. So I was sold a fake, ugh. At least it was cheap and the other one is brilliant. The belt one from the mid/late 1800s I picked up from a guy I’ve worked with a lot previously. The other piece (fake one) was from a new dealer.
 
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