History of Belt Buckles

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The word ‘buckle’ (from Latin buccula) is a clasp used for fastening two things together, such as the ends of a belt, or for retaining the end of a strap. Before the invention of the zipper, buckles were commonly used to fasten boots and other shoes.

Buckles were used in ancient Greece and Rome, particularly in military equipment. Buckles were first used commonly in the cheek strap of the Roman Galea, hence the word origin from the Latin bucca–cheek. Because of the simplicity and durability of the buckle , it became popular in harnesses and embroidery, especially in shoes and boots. It was commonly used as a typical clasp for clothing until the zipper was invented.

Today, the buckle is most commonly used for belts, although it is still used in shoes and particularly boots. Tanker boots employ the use of buckles because of the disadvantages of laces. Buckles can also be seen on backpacks, watches and other wrist jewelry, or for ornamental purposes on other various objects. Buckles are also commonly seen in modern gothic fashion.

You say you are a belt buckle aficionado, but are you acquainted with the history behind these fascinating creations? As you can imagine, these chic modern accoutrements to your wardrobe did not start out as such. Rather, they arose from their basic utility. The story goes back to the 1600s, and the trials and tribulations of the British maritime industry.

These were the days before World War I, when the era belonged to the British Empire. This was also before the advent of the railroad, which had a hand in diminishing the importance of the British fleet. Just like the railroad (and so many other inventions throughout human history), the belt Buckles came about as a response to the needs of both the military and the merchant class.

British sailors, faced oftentimes with brutal weather out at sea, used eyelets and string to fasten their clothes, even though a goldsmith had recently invented the button. These eyelets were woefully inadequate once you were soaked, however. It was at this time that a seaman invented the very first belt buckle, and soon it became all rage. Sailors attached them to leather belts and found them useful for holding up water-logged clothes, as well as easy to remove even with shivering fingers.

The Puritans separatists who left Britain for the New World believed buttons to actually be sinful, and popularized the use of cheap belt buckle (even today some groups like the Amish still hold fast-no pun intended--to the idea that buttons are inappropriate). Two centuries later, Americans value belt buckles for much more than their utility. Indeed, today belt buckles serve as a creative means of self-expression. What a long, strange trip it's been for the belt buckle.

The following belt buckles are really great for belt buckle collectors:

Celtic Belt Buckles are also very popular and include variations such as the leather celtic cross , celtic knot, celtic shield, Nidhug Celtic dragon , Celtic Tree of Life, Celtic Keltic Nordic Knot, Celtic Circle knots, and keltic rectangular knots.  Celtic buckles are very popular among collectors as well as those wanting to add an edgy look to their fashion style.  

American Flag belt buckles are very popular and include the flag buckle in red , White and blue colors, America glitter shaped like the United States, eagle heads with US flag, eagle and USA flag, eagle over the USA shield.  The "Try to Burn This One" USA flag is also very popular to sport your American Pride. 

Texas Regionally based belt buckles are popular among the Western , Cowboy and Cowgirl crowd and include variations such as “Don't mess with Texas Longhorn ”, the state of Texas seal, Texan by the grace of God, Texas flag, Texas flag armadillo, Lone Star Texas buckle, Texas seal on armadillo, Texas star, Texas steer, and the Texas State Seal.

Military belt buckles are very popular among our Service Men and Women and include variations such as Airborne all the way, airborne, Battle of the Bulge, American hero combat veteran bronze star, civil war, combat infantry badge, F-14 tomcat, WWII Veteran, USA Veteran, Vietnam Vet, Vietnam Veteran, Vietnam Veteran and proud of it, Korean war veteran, POW MIA you are not forgotten, US combat purple heart, Sherman tank, tiger tank, US Army, US Army firepower, US Army special forces green beret, US Navy, US Navy SSN, US Navy Seals, US Navy anytime baby, US Navy Seabees, US Marines, USMC, US Marine Corps, US Marine first to fight, US National Guard, US Coast Guard, and USAF US Air Force Air Superiority. 

Trade and Occupational belt buckles are popular to wear on the job showing your dedication to your chosen profession and include belt buckles in professions including American farmers, blacksmith, carpenters, mason, EMT, EMT paramedic, construction worker, electrician, American fire fighter, fire dept, fire fighter, volunteer firefighter, volunteer fire department, ironworker, linesman, machinist, heavy equipment operator, mechanic, painter, pipe fitter, plumber, police officer, shrine, truck driver, and welders.

Bikers love belt buckles as it provides them with an additional outlet to show their edge and include buckles like Bad to the bone , born to ride , boots, Bubba, Confederate flag, eagle with chain border, ghost rider, hell on wheels , hog wild, live to ride, horse raiders, nude female, rebel rider, redneck, skull shape & confederate flag, skull flag, south will rise again, southern by the grace of God, road warrior, and ‘til death do us part’.

Transportation and Trucking belt buckles are great and include School bus, locomotives, crossed checkered flag, Dixie trucker, peterbilt, tanker, 18 wheeler, fire truck, truck drivers, truckers only, USA trucking, and Peterbilt.

Whiskey/Guns /Liquor buckles are really hot right now and include Bud Label buckles, Anheuser Busch belt buckles, Bud Proud to Be Your Bud, Bud Clydesdales, Bud Frogs, Got Beer? Bottle Opener Belt Buckle, Jack Daniels, crossed revolver , Smith & Wesson logo, Smith & Wesson eagle, Jim Beam buckles, Budweiser, This Bud’s for You, Bud Frogs, and Labatt Bleu. 

Skull and Bones buckles are very popular and include bummed skull, cowboy skull with snake, stepping out skull, pile of skulls, shield sword & skulls, sworn to fun loyal to none, skull & crossbones, skeleton hand, pirate skull, trust me skull, half skull, demon head, fish bones, grim reaper monster, web crawler, and undead warrior Extreme.

3D buckles are really cool and include the Alien , ant, bat , beetle, hell hounds, horned toad, lady luck, octopus, pumpkin, raven, scorpion , tarantula, vampire, werewolf, and wolves.

Music belt buckles are very popular, such as rock and roll, bluegrass, country music, gospel, square dancing, line dancing, rock star , rock n roll, and electric guitar buckles. Rock Stars love to sport the perfect buckle.

 Important changes occurred in the applied arts at the end of the nineteenth century. In 1900 Paris held its Exposition Universally, and manufacturers from all over the world came to the French capital to show their newest inventions. Many of the decorative arts items shown were made in a new style, the Art Nouveau. This movement was dedicated to the new century, in which beauty and good taste would be the highest goals. The basic tenet of the Art Nouveau was to suffuse all areas of life with art, not only in artworks but also in everyday objects like belt buckles.

The belt buckle was often used in Greece and Rome and became an indispensable part of the Teutonic warrior's equipment, as well as the object of special care on the part of metal smiths, who ornamented many buckles with rich and intricate designs.

The Germanic invaders imported animal motifs characteristic of Scythian-Sarmatian decorative arts; their belts and buckles often representing animals entwined in mortal combat. A fine example of a buckle of a heavy rectangular type decorated with filigree was found in the tomb of Child Eric I, king of the Franks, who died in AD 481/482. Several 7th-century gold buckles with interlacing curvilinear patterns and cutaway tongues, now in the British Museum, London, were found in the Sutton Hoo ship burial. Throughout the middle Ages, the buckle was used especially for ornamentation; but, during the second half of the 14th century, the knightly belt and buckle took on its most splendid form. After the early 15th century, the belt and buckle never again regained such importance.

Western belt buckles

Western belt buckles can be worn by anyone these days. Wearing steel on your body will immediately project a tough and rugged look that will accentuate any leather. However, fashion enthusiasts warn against overdoing the “cowboy” look and suggest mix and matching them with a modern twist to the buckle.

Western belt buckles do not necessarily contain antique design; they may be drawn from simple inscriptions or liquor labels. Customizing is also very chic and can be very appealing to those who want to evoke their own personality with the traditional western.

Western Belt-buckles inherit the macho and rugged culture of those, which wore the first belt and buckles- the Roman Soldier.

Most Western belt buckles are made of iron and plated in silver. However, recently other materials have been put to use such as the discovery of alloys that will project a heavy look but is very light to the waist.
 
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