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The History of Buckles

Buckle History

In the 18th century, buckles were one of the most fashionable elements of any outfit. They were worn on shoes, breeches, sashes, belts, cravats, and even hats. Both men and women wore them, and it is estimated that 2.5 million were manufactured each year. Due to their high usage very few items remain, especially those in good condition.

Silver was too soft for everyday use, so most buckles had steel pins and fittings and only the mounts were silver. This allows some examples to remain in a decent condition, even today. Victorian and Edwardian belt buckles are popular collectors’ items. They can even still be used, as silver belt buckles are a traditional element of a nurse’s uniform.

A common design feature of these buckles was significant faceting across the buckle to give the impression of gemstones being set in the buckle. Some late 19th century examples were highly ornate in their designs. Art Nouveau patterns were frequently featured, including floral elements and images of ladies with long, flowing hair, typical of the Art Nouveau style.

Buckles of all of these designs are still produced today, although they are obviously reproduced from casts of the originals. Thoroughly checking the hallmarks is essential when it comes to buckles to ensure you have a genuine antique and not a reproduction.

Turn-of-the-century examples of buckles don’t have as much of a market today, as the vast majority are just too small to be worn by modern women. Some measured only 18”, following the trend of the time of having tiny wisp-like waists.

Buckles In Jewellery

Giving buckle-themed jewellery originated in the Victorian period, where it represented a close relationship between the giver and the receiver. The buckle itself represented a metaphorical connection between the two people. Since this time, buckles have been a popular feature on jewellery of all kinds.

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