Saturday, May 23, 2015


Ask any War for Southern Independence buff who digs relics with a metal detector to identify his favorite or most memorable "find," and he'll probably respond with one of these: A Confederate belt buckle. A rare Union plate. Or, perhaps, a rare Confederate button. Although diggers find a huge variety of personal and military relics that were lost of left on the battlefields and campsites, they are generally proudest of their occasional "dug plate."

Common US oval buckle or cartridge box plate. Many variations exist.

Rare Confederate CS oval waist belt plate. Many of these had no lead filling in the reverse, relying instead on small brass hooks soldered to the thin brass stamping. Thus, few survived for long. 

CSA rectangular plate. There are many variations of both of these Confederate plates. 

Union eagle shoulder belt plate, commonly referred to as a breast plate.

Some of my plates

Pre-war plate

CS two-piece waist belt buckle. The male portion I dug in my back yard when I lived on Drummond Street here in Vicksburg.

Confederate frame waist belt belt plate. This one originally had two tongues; one was apparently lost by the Confederate soldier. The buckle has a deep indentation in its frame where the single tongue rested, indicating that the patriot wore the buckle in this condition for a long period of time.

Another Confederate frame waist belt buckle. These are well made of heavy brass stock.

"Martingales" were centered on the chest of the harnesses of horses of the cavalry units.

Confederate "forked tongue" waist belt plate.

Another pre-war waist belt plate.

A friend of mine was going through my digging scrap bucket when he came across this bent and twisted CS oval plate. I had taken a look at when I dug it and mistakenly thought it was a spoon. It's a mysterious variation, for unlike most CS ovals, this one is constructed of heavy brass. Perhaps it WAS a spoon that was converted to a CS buckle. Is the missing piece on its left side a result of removing the spoon's handle? A converted spoon might also explain the heavy brass construction.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015


Old cast iron coin banks are hugely collectible. This one, the Magician Bank, is very well known to collectors. Although this one has been cleaned and painted black, it originally was hand painted in several different colors.

My old Mississippi State University roommate, Rubel Cowart, had this one on display in his house in Starkville for many years. I always admired it, and, when Rubel passed away last year, the executor of the estate, made aware by a mutual friend of both Rubel and myself that I had always coveted it, was kind enough to let me have it. I now have it prominently displayed in my apartment, where it will remain until I pass on and my children decide its fate.

These banks are highly valued by collectors. One in top-notch condition can bring $5,000 or more!