Wilkinson Eagle Plate - Springfield Armory Inspector Marked "T. J SHEPARD" and "US"


Item: Wilkinson Eagle Plate - Springfield Armory Inspector Marked "T. J SHEPARD" and "US"
Use: Eagle plates, also known as breast plates, shoulder belt plates, and cross belt plates, were displayed on the cross belt that held the soldier's cartridge box. The two loop type, such as this one, was ornamental and proudly worn by Union soldiers with the belt slung over the shoulder and across the chest. See the additional images in this listing for an image showing its use. 
Stamped thin sheet brass with solder fill and two iron wire loops.
Very good, excavated, one loop present. Its brass front has a very pleasing smooth even rich brown patina with a highly detailed eagle clutching arrows in its right talon and an olive branch in its left. The rear has a near full complement of solder with one of its two iron attachment loops present and complete. The surface solder is lightly pitted. Also on the rear is the inspector's stamp of "T. J. SHEPARD" and "US" as required by the Springfield armory circa March, 1864. The last few letters of "SHEPARD" are difficult to see. The supplier's stamp is not present. The plate has no cracks, bends, or repairs.
Recovered:  Fairfax Station, VA
Approximate diameter: 64 mm.
Reference: Similar examples of Wilkinson eagle plates can be found in the following relic reference books:

  • "American Military Belt Plates" by Michael J. O'Donnell and J. Duncan Campbell, on page 287, plate 457.
  • "Plates and Buckles of the American Military 1795-1874", by Sydney C. Kerksis on page 524, figure III-13.
  • "Field Guide to Excavated Federal Plates" by Daniel J. Peters on page 6.

Scans of the above noted reference book pages are included in the additional images.

Comments: I am 99% certain this eagle plate was supplied by "W. H. WILKINSON / SPRINGFIELD, MASS.". Typically, it would be marked as such, but in this case it was left either unstamped, or the stamp was so weak, along with the light surface pitting, it just isn't visible. It would seem likely that SOME of the lettering would be visible, but it's just not there. Since both accoutrement suppliers, Boyd & Sons of Boston and W. H. Wilkinson, were purchasing plates with the exact same dye stamp from the same source for a while, there is a slim possibility that this plate may have been supplied by Boyd & Sons / Boston and marked as such. Since the Boyd marked plates that include both the "T. J. Shepard" and "US" are very rare, the odds of this one being supplied by Wilkinson are much greater. The detail of the front of this plate is simply outstanding as is typical of the dye used for the production of these eagle plates. This marked eagle plate will be an excellent addition to any excavated Civil War plate or general relic collection.

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