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Fraudulent Funeral Belt Buckle

John Fairchild
Origin Date:
overall: 2 13/16 in x 4 1/16 in x 9/16 in
Item ID:
Holding Institution:
Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection, courtesy of the Indiana State Museum
Available for Viewing:
Three-dimensional Objects


This fake brass belt buckle produced in England at the time of the centennial anniversary of the United States Civil War, 1961-1965, was purported to be a 19th century memorial to the late President Abraham Lincoln. They were sold through American antiques and weapons dealers as "historical" items which sold for hundreds of dollars. The front of the belt buckle features an image of President Abraham Lincoln encircled by a wreath which is surrounded by cannons, flags, rifles, and an eagle in flight at the top. Below the images are the words "In Memory of Our Dear President." The reverse of the buckle features several statements near the center: "The Official Funeral Plate No. _______" and "Issued to All United States Congressmen, Washington, D. C." and "Made from Captured Heavy Confederate Guns." Below and curved in a slight arc are "Designed by William R. Leigh" and "Made by W. H. Horstmann." All of the statements are not true. The number of the funeral plate is always blank. There is no written record of any Congressman receiving a belt buckle in 1865 or 1866. The design was not approved by Mrs. Lincoln who was so distraught that she could not get out of bed to attend her husband's funeral or move out of the White House for more than a month after his death. A backloop and wide tab were soldered to the reverse of the buckle. During the 1860s men wore suspenders or narrow belts not wide enough to accommodate this belt buckle. For more information see "The Rail Splitter," Vol. 4, No. 3, January, 1999, pages 10-11 in the online file at https://archive.org/stream/curiosrelicsclotlinc_23#page/n13/mode/2up Part of the Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection, courtesy of the Indiana State Museum