1st Kings Dragoon Guards Shoulder Belt Plate circa 1800
A 1st Kings Dragoon Guards Officerís shoulder belt plate circa 1800 believed to have been worn by Cornet Richard William Howard-Vyse who joined the regiment as a Cornet in 1800 aged sixteen years of age and went on to become a Major General in 1846 and died in 1853. Howard-Vyse had a varied military career joining the 15th Light Dragoons in 1801, he then transferred to the 87th Foot in 1815 and in 1816 transferred to the 2nd Life Guards and finally the 1st West India in 1819. An old paper inscription accompanies the belt plate indicating that the belt plate belonged to a Howard Vise, Household Cavalry which clearly is a mismatch in spelling.
The belt plate is unquestionable the rarest belt plate I have had the pleasure to offer under The Military Gentleman. The plate comprises a small gilt oval back plate with a wreath of leaves around the outside edge and an eight pointed cut silver star to the centre with a garter strap enamelled in rich blue and gilt metal lettering topped by a crown. In the centre are the initials KDG on a red enamel background with an engine turned ground underneath.
The reverse retains a hook and two small buttons for attachment to a buff leather shoulder belt with much evidence of gilt overspill and age discoloration. Overall the belt plate is in exceptional condition with some minor age discoloration to the obverse as you would expect from a plate that is in excess of 200 years old. I cannot emphasize strongly enough the absolute quality of manufacture, the gilt lettering on the garter, given its small size, is absolutely superb. I have not attempted to clean the discoloration to part of the obverse but I suspect this could be removed with careful attention.
It is my understanding that the Dragoon Guards museum in Cardiff has a similar plate in their collection which is missing most of its enamel. Dragoon regiments only wore shoulder belt plates for a relatively short period of time around the late 1790ís, early 1800ís and as such very few have survived.