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1880's Minnesota Belt Buckle - Photo of Use & Questions


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For a number of years I have tried on and off to locate an Indian Wars / pre-Spanish American War belt buckle from the State of Minnesota. In speaking to old time collectors, old time meaning a few in their 70s, and 80s, and some now deceased, I have heard varying answers about the existence of such a buckle. The buckle in question is a standard belt plate type, prominently marked MINN on the buckle. The answer I got was that some thought they DID exist and were in fact a state purchased and issued item, others thought that they were old fantasy or repro type pieces, probably from the 1960s was their best guess. No one could say for sure though.

 

So I was cruising eBay a few weeks ago and found this photo and had to buy it. It shows the buckle in use and being worn! The buckle clearly says MINN on it. Photographic evidence from the period - I would say that is 100% proof positive that the buckle DID exist and WAS in fact used and issued.

 

The soldier is named on the back, I have to research him bit. Fairmont, where the picture was taken, it about a 2.5 hour drive from Fort Snelling, so I suspect he was Minnesota militia or guard, the forerunner to the National Guard. I will post more info when I find more about him, if I can nail him down.

 

If anyone knows more about this buckle and its usage, please feel free to post here.

 

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So I found David S. Wade in the county where Fairmont is, he was born in 1867 it appears, he is in the 1880 census and was 13 years old then. That would make this buckle be from what, likely at least 1887? He would have been 33 years old when the Spanish American War started. Can anyone pin down a more certain date for the photo, based on his uniform?

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MW:

 

I'd have to agree with you. That period photo is pretty darn conclusive of the existence of the MINN belt plate.

 

Do you have a copy of O'Donnell's book entitled "American Military Belt Plates"? It probably has some information in there on your questions. I don't have a copy myself as it is slightly outside of my areas of specialization.

 

US Military Belt Plates book.jpg

 

Regards,

Charlie

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Great! Thanks gents for the extra info!

 

I have not seen that book before. Might be a good one to grab now that I know it exists.

 

The buckle - great info that the book lists.

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The dates on it that the book lists as a guideline of when they were used, makes sense too given what I know about this soldier. I would have to guess then that the picture I have is probably 1887 into the early 1890s, as I suspect he is in his early or mid 20s. I need to root out my Minnesota military medals book too and see if I can use it to date his shootings badge or long service medal/s (cant remember which he is wearing) and narrow the date down some.

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The cap device may also narrow it down to a time frame.The style of muskets company letter and numerals are addressed in Emmersons book to periods of use

 

great photo MW

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