Eagle Plate - Manufacturer Marked "J. I. PITTMAN"

Item: Excavated Eagle Plate Marked "J. I. PITTMAN"
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.
Excellent, excavated, both loops present. Its brass face has a very pleasing dusty brown patina with an eagle clutching arrows in its right talon and an olive branch in its left. The eagle motif is highly detailed with some very slight period wear on the high relief areas such as the eagle's breast, upper wings and knees. The rear has a full complement of solder with both iron attachment loops which are rusty, straight up, and complete. Also on the rear is the manufacturer's stamp of "J. I. PITTMAN". The majority of the mark is present with the with the exception of the top portion of one of the second "T". The plate has no cracks, breaks, bends, or repairs.  
 Cold Harbor, VA
Approximate diameter:
64 mm.
Reference: A similar example of a "J. I. PITTMAN" marked eagle plate can be found in the following relic reference books:

  • "Civil War Artifacts" by Howard Crouch on page 189, item 3.
  • "Field Guide to Excavated Federal Plates" by Daniel J. Peters on page 9.

Note that the same plate was used for in both reference books and scans of the above noted reference book pages are included in the additional images.

Comments:  The "J. I. PITTMAN" mark is one of the more difficult marks to be found on plates and recovering one in this condition, these days, would be a very rare event. An early published accoutrement reference book "Plates and Buckles of the American Military 1795-1874" by Sydney C. Kerksis, the author notes on page 510 referring to the "J. I. PITTMAN" mark, "This contractor's marking is quite rare." This "J. I. PITTMAN" marked eagle plate will be an excellent addition to any excavated Civil War plate or general relic collection.

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