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Published on August 12th, 2014 | by Irev

History of Belt Buckles

Belt buckles have been in existence longer than you think. A belt buckle is defined as “a clasp for fastening two ends,” while a device attached to one of its ends that could fit or be coupled with the clasp. The definition may seem so technical and simple, but when it comes to the history of belt buckles, it’s actually quite an interesting journey.


Long ago, buckles were made from antlers or bones and were used along with looped belts by ancient hunters and gatherers. Later on during the Iron Age, and the primitive buckle style was created between 400 BC – 1400 BC. It is believed that belt buckles during this time were an indication of one’s economic and social status. However, they were also used for ornamental purposes, just like today.

More functional belt buckles were developed in Ancient Rome and China. The earliest Roman buckles were D and square-shaped and were made from pounded wrought iron. After a few centuries, iron buckles were replaced by cast bronze ones. The tongue of these cast bronze buckles remained made from iron, though. In the 4th and 5thcenturies, belt buckles became widely used in Europe.

In the 6th and 7th centuries, the tongue of a belt buckle was usually made from gold. Buckles at that time were also highly decorated and were used only by men. In Sutton Hoo, an English county near Woodbridge, Anglo-Saxon men usually wore golden ornate belt buckles. During the 8th century, D-shaped buckles became more popular and are the basis of today’s common practical style. By the 13th century, more D and oval-shaped buckles were being made in huge amounts and became more utilitarian rather than decorative.


During the Civil War era or the 1800s, silver and turquoise buckles were created and by the 1900s, Western style ones were popular among cowboys. Aside from Western-styled buckles, Indian and rodeo buckles also became widely used. In addition, the mid-19th century also witnessed the development of plate style buckles that often have a clasp with 3 hooks, and this style was common among Western military groups. Simple plate style buckles were worn by common men, while more ornate ones were worn by military officers. Later on, a more modern style became popular: belt buckles with a hinged frame and a simple hook clasp, and in the 20th century, buckles that showcase flags became quite popular. These buckles became an avenue to display patriotism, particularly in the United States. The flags were often accompanied with text like “God bless America” or “United we stand.”


Belt buckles nowadays are made from a wide variety of metals including silver, pewter, sterling silver, bronze, brass, nickel, copper, etc. In addition, belt buckles these days are already also worn by women as they can showcase a woman’s waistline and basically be part of her must-have accessories to show her sense of style and fashion.

Whether you’re wearing a simple or lavishly decorated belt buckle for fashion or practical reasons, belt buckles have undoubtedly come a long way from merely being a belt fastener.

Images:,,, Vintages-antiques-collectibles

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About the Author

I am a twenty-something blogger living in the Philippines. I love blogging about fashion and beauty and learning about new cultures and languages. A self-confessed tv series addict, I love watching GoT, Arrow and Once Upon a Time.

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