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Cas City Forum Hall & CAS-L  |  Special Interests - Groups & Societies  |  Cas City Historical Society (Moderators: St. George, Silver Creek Slim)  |  Topic: Early money belt 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Early money belt  (Read 2000 times)
bear tooth billy
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« on: April 10, 2017, 06:36:04 pm »


I'm putting together an originals character for NCOWS. I'm going to be a buffalo hunter in 1875.
I'll be using a 51 navy conversion in a California holster. In Packing Iron the earliest money belt
I've seen was 1878 on page 101.  Were there any around in 1875     Thanks

                                       BTB.
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Forty Rod
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« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2017, 07:35:24 pm »

It's been my experience if someone answers "no" within a few days someone... or several someones... will counter with pictures and proof that the answer should have been "yes".

I'd make the 1878 version and defy anyone to prove it isn't authentic.
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« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2017, 08:50:51 pm »

No

There, I saved you a step. Now just wait for the counter proof!
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Cliff Fendley
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« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2017, 07:53:01 am »

For some time I've questioned that holster was made before 1880. I would date it between 1880 and 1885.

Rice worked/ran Gallups Dodge City saddlery from 1878-1880. Rice bought the Gallup, Dodge City saddlery and renamed it RE Rice saddlery in 1880. 

Robert Rice was working for Gallup again in Colorado by the mid 1880's.
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Mean Bob Mean
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« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2017, 08:46:06 am »

It's been my experience if someone answers "no" within a few days someone... or several someones... will counter with pictures and proof that the answer should have been "yes".

I'd make the 1878 version and defy anyone to prove it isn't authentic.

This, bottom line is that money belts as an idea predates that so the notion that someone would incorporate it into a personal piece of property wide enough to accommodate a holster is simply beyond reproach.  They might not have been a commercial item, but a personally made one?  Make it, wear it, be happy, and have fun.
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Cliff Fendley
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« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2017, 10:04:54 am »

This, bottom line is that money belts as an idea predates that so the notion that someone would incorporate it into a personal piece of property wide enough to accommodate a holster is simply beyond reproach.  They might not have been a commercial item, but a personally made one?  Make it, wear it, be happy, and have fun.

I totally agree and believe there is a good chance that some were around in 1875 and I couldn't knock it as part of a persona.

However I would consider cartridge/money belts as we think of them in the styling as seen on the Rice rig in Packing Iron are more of a commercially produced item. At least by someone who did more than just throw themselves together a money belt, someone that had access to different types of leather and at least some experience assembling such things.

The reason I say that is because a period money belt uses at least two, and usually three different type/weight of leather and they are a lot of sewing by hand and some experience in assembling such things goes a long way in it coming out satisfactory.

Not meaning a saddler or someone with means and skill didn't make one for someone else on request, I just mean it's not the type of item i see a drover putting together during his spare time.

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« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2017, 01:09:43 pm »

I totally agree and believe there is a good chance that some were around in 1875 and I couldn't knock it as part of a persona.

However I would consider cartridge/money belts as we think of them in the styling as seen on the Rice rig in Packing Iron are more of a commercially produced item. At least by someone who did more than just throw themselves together a money belt, someone that had access to different types of leather and at least some experience assembling such things.

The reason I say that is because a period money belt uses at least two, and usually three different type/weight of leather and they are a lot of sewing by hand and some experience in assembling such things goes a long way in it coming out satisfactory.

Not meaning a saddler or someone with means and skill didn't make one for someone else on request, I just mean it's not the type of item i see a drover putting together during his spare time.

I am certainly no expert and bow to the knowledge of others in this area but I do seem to recall reading about Cowboys sewing on their own cartridge loops.  That is, a belt that originally had none would be reconfigured thus.  Like my post above, I would distinguish between what was probable for an individual opposed to what was a common commercial offering.  Is this what you all have read as well?  Cartridges would have had to have been widely used enough to do so, by 1875 is that a reasonable assumption?
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Buck Stinson
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« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2017, 01:33:52 pm »

Oh I know I'm going to get jumped on for this, but here goes.  In my opinion, the earliest money belt pictured in Packing Iron is the Gallatin rig on page 115.  My reasoning behind this, comes from the holster.  This is a matching rig, meaning holster and belt were most likely made together.  Earliest of single action holsters were lined with cloth, not buckskin.  The holster in the photo is lined with red felt (actually pool table felt).  In the past 40 years, many collectors have studied saddle shop ledgers, early catalog photo cards and printed catalogs of the 1870-1890 period and most of us agree that Gallatin may have been the first to offer money cartridge belts.  Because Gallatin was making double loop holsters for his customers as soon as the Colt SA hit the frontier, it is probably not a stretch to say he offered a money belts very early on.  He was an inventor and innovator when it came to his leather business and was often the first to "create" something new and when he did, everyone followed suit.  However, the question was "to use a Slim Jim holster with a money belt".  I personally have never seen an original matching rig that has a money belt and a Slim Jim holster.  Maybe they did, but I doubt it.  I have seen and owned many original Slim Jims that were made for conversions which used a narrow single thickness belt with cartridge loops.  The type of belt I am referring to is pictured on page 89 in PI.  Because of the era of the conversions, Slim Jim holsters were the norm and because everyone was familiar with the narrower military waist belts, this narrow style was a perfect candidate for cartridge loops and the Slim Jim holster.
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Cliff Fendley
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« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2017, 02:25:31 pm »

I am certainly no expert and bow to the knowledge of others in this area but I do seem to recall reading about Cowboys sewing on their own cartridge loops.  That is, a belt that originally had none would be reconfigured thus.  Like my post above, I would distinguish between what was probable for an individual opposed to what was a common commercial offering.  Is this what you all have read as well?  Cartridges would have had to have been widely used enough to do so, by 1875 is that a reasonable assumption?

I'm basing my thoughts on just my experience building them and i just feel a money belt is not what I would think someone would add too. A folded money belt is one piece that is a separate leather type/thickness of the billets and as often as not the bullet loops are also different material. And you don't just add bullet loops to a money belt and it still be the hollow belt as it was designed unless you take it completely apart, add the bullet loops, and redo the belt. You could make a new belt quicker. That provided you have access to all the different parts to build it.

You don't just make a money belt either out of just any strip of leather laying around. I'm making money belts today, the belt bodies are 6-7 inch by approx 50 inches long depending on belt size. You pretty much eat up the very best part of a side of leather just to make one belt. It's not something you do with scrap from a bunkhouse. They would have needed to take the best part of a side of calfskin and still have billets from skirting leather or another old single layer belt. Not saying it didn't happen but it's certainly something more in line with a commercial offering an innovative saddler such as E.L. Gallatin would have offered.

I'm working in the shop today and just so happen to be making money belts. After this discussion came up this morning I myself looked through Packing Iron for older examples and was thinking the same thoughts as Buck. That the Gallatin rig is probably the oldest example of a money belt in that book.

I don't claim to be an expert myself but I do consider Buck Stinson to be one. However I do own some older examples myself and as a leather maker I have talked to many collectors and studied their collections during the past several years at every available opportunity.
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bear tooth billy
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« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2017, 04:53:00 pm »

After going to Cliff's seminars at a NCOWS convention several years ago, I made a money belt
myself, patterned off the mentioned one in Packing Iron. In our originals class we have to document
every article we are wearing/using to our chosen time period. I have a straight narrow belt that may be
more appropriate. On page 90 is a picture of antelope Jack, This is the best picture of a real buffalo
hunter during the time period that I have found. Is the knife and holster on a second belt? Thanks


                                             BTB
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« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2017, 08:26:03 pm »

Of course there is the fact that paper money was only worth half or less of what gold/silver coinage was worth in the west from the end of the war and well into the 1870's..  Lots of documentation of that if you want to dig for it, may be a reason they can't be found.
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« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2017, 06:52:54 am »

I agree with Delmonico on that.   I read that after the war it was estimated up to 1/3 of the money in circulation was counterfeit.   People did not trust paper money, so not a great reason to have an item designed to carry it. 
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Mean Bob Mean
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« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2017, 07:25:10 am »

You could fit gold coins in a money belt, I thought that was the point? I think the notion of folding money, money belts is more modern.  The money belt was not necessarily designed originally to hold money it was a one piece folded over and sewn belt that also happened to be useful in that manner.  The term "money belt" as applied to gunbelts, I always thought, was just a term of art, not a description of its intentional original use.  Anyone else?
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« Reply #13 on: April 12, 2017, 09:26:38 am »

Ask someone who knows nothing about cowboy gear, what they think of as a money belt and they will tell you a money belt is a belt generally worn under clothing, out of sight, that you carry folded paper money in.  I agree with Mean Bob on this.  However, when you look at some of the very old saddle shop catalogs, they list cartridge belts as "single thickness" and "folded cartridge/money" belts.  In my 1886 J. S. Collins saddle catalog from their Cheyenne shop, it lists "single thickness cartridge belts" which is obviously saddle skirting, in widths of 1 3/4", 2" and 3".  The folded cartridge/money belts were 3" and 4" in width.  These belts could be had with an additional row of cartridge loops for .75 cents, all hand sewn mind you.   With these belts being listed in this manner, I think the catalog terminology "money/cartridge belt" was definitely a description of that belts intended use.  Some of my old catalogs list the folded leather material as "pebble grain calf skin".  Boy would I like to order some original gear from that catalog.  The 4" wide single row money cartridge belt was $2.25.  WOOHOO, I'll take two.
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Mean Bob Mean
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« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2017, 11:36:55 am »

WOOHOO, I'll take two.

Nice, thanks for the information.
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« Reply #15 on: April 12, 2017, 05:16:10 pm »

Oh, I am not denying that coins could be fit in a money belt and they were I am sure.  I was thinking it was a matter of weight ratios.  The average weight of an unladen aftrican swal...Sorry, Python flashback, it happens, no cure.  Okay, I was thinking in terms of weight and body.   Many men do not have much in the gluteus maximus, not saying not developed, just more minimus than maximus.  It is a problem I suffer due to medication my parents gave me, Noassitol. Side effect was no booty.   So, in weights (pulling these from memory, so correct me please).  $20 gold weighed an ounce. (probably troy).  A 1$ in silver weighed an ounce.  So, carrying $24 in coin could range from more than a 1/4 of a pound to 1 1/2 pounds.   I have not seen a money belt that was not a cartridge belt.  (As a die-hard cap and ball man who feels this cartridge thing will never catch on, I do not wear a cartridge belt, if one exists, please correct me, gotta learn somehow).   Any who, with a gun, cartridges and coins, that is a some weight resting on a tiny bump that many of us do not have much of.   

That was just my thinking.
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Cliff Fendley
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« Reply #16 on: April 12, 2017, 06:55:34 pm »

Actually coins go in and out of a money belt easier than paper money. Regarding weight, it's easier to carry it around your waste as in a sack and much harder for someone to get at it if it's around your waste. The whole idea makes sense.
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« Reply #17 on: April 12, 2017, 07:25:41 pm »

Cliff is exactly right.  Coin weight was certainly not an issue.  I'm sure very few if any cowboys had enough coins at one time to notice any weight.
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Mean Bob Mean
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« Reply #18 on: April 13, 2017, 09:11:26 am »

Cliff is exactly right.  Coin weight was certainly not an issue.  I'm sure very few if any cowboys had enough coins at one time to notice any weight.

Everything I have read indicates they were poor as dirt most of the time.  If a guy had any money it was ill gotten or gone soon to buy equipment, grub stake, blow off steam, etc. 
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