Belt buckles began as strictly utiliarian devices designed to fasten things together.
Western Belt Buckles
The fantasy of cowboys in the Wild West is a 20th century Hollywood invention. Real cowboys used suspenders or plain military friction belt buckles. But early Hollywood costume designers wanted to add some flair to their Western hero’s.
The “Western belt buckle” exploded as the biggest American buckle style of the 20th century. These great Western belt buckles were worn by cowboys in rodeos, country-western singers, couples two-stepping and even some U.S. presidents.
Western belt buckles, also known as Texas belt buckles or cowboy belt buckles come in a variety of styles. Some have American flags and other patriotic symbols. Others have animals like longhorn cattle or bucking broncos and bulls. Early examples are heavy and made of silver-plated iron.
See the beautiful vintage Western Belt Buckle we have for sale here: Belt Buckles
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Types of Buckles
These are the oldest design. The oldest styles have a simple loop or “D” shaped frame, but “double-loop” or “center post” buckles whose prongs attach to a fixed center section appear in the 8th century.
These are common on western military belts of the mid-19th century, which often feature a three-hook clasp: two hooks fitting into one end of the belt and a third into the other. Officers might have a similar but more intricate clasp-style closure that featured two interlocking metal parts. In practice, the term “belt plate” refers to any flat, decorated surface on such a clasp. These precede development of modern “western-style” buckles, which feature a hinged frame affixed to one end of the belt and a simple hook clasp which enters the belt hole toward the wearer but leaves most of the buckle on the “outside” of the belt, providing an ample surface for decoration. The distance between the fixed frame or chape of a plate buckle and its adjustment prong is called the “throw.”