Before the zipper was invented, the buckle was perhaps one of the chief methods of securing two ends together. This ‘wrinkly’ now prefers Velcro. Buckles come in various shapes and sizes depending on the intended use and fashion of the time. Most detectorists will have a selection, but not always knowing much about them. There is a solution for those wanting to do a little research.
I have always considered Chris Marshall’s Buckle Pages the definitive voice on the subject. He discusses buckles from Roman to Georgian times, as well the history. Well worth a place in your ‘favourites’. The buckle visual catalogue and weblinks are courtesy of UKDFD.
During the latter part of my detecting ‘career’ I just threw the buckles into – what has turned out to be – my ‘magic porridge pot’ of a box. I have extracted most them, and this what they look like:
Can you see that a circa 16th C duck-head type buckle is shown, but wasn’t in the box. How it got in there I don’t know – the scan was done before I realised. There is also a couple of ornate and other interesting examples.
The one I wish to talk about in this blog post is perhaps the plainest, but in many ways the most interesting. The example shown below has a tangible history to which I can relate and was found on the same site as the Mills Grenade Base Plug, which means it can be accurately dated to the time of WW1.
This type of buckle can also be seen on the webbing belt shown below, courtesy of dbgmilitariaI, and was issued to troops in 1918.
My First Buckle Find
I remember my first buckle find very well, although I wasn’t exactly sure what it was … turned out to be a shoe buckle, a fashion accessory worn by men and woman since the early 1200’s. They were made of a variety of materials including brass, steel, silver or silver gilt. Buckles for formal wear were set with diamonds, quartz or imitation jewels. This type are rarely found be detectorists! Buckled shoes began to replace tied shoes in the mid-17th century.
Samuel Pepys wrote the following in his Diary for 22 January 1660:
I wonder if they were anything like Mrs John’s first buckle find …
OUT OF THE BOX
My mate Dave took another slurp of his builder’s tea, looked me straight in the eye and declared that he’d just bought a Shite Shirt. On this occasion I didn’t trust my ears, wasn’t sure what he’d said, so asked him to repeat. This time he enunciated his words carefully, “I’VE JUST BOUGHT A SHITE SHIRT”, and proceeded to tell the story.
Evidently, the shirts are the height of fashion and celebrity detectorists like PullTabPeter and Deep Digger Dennis wear them on special social occasions, like chatting up landowners. After looking at the website, I also couldn’t resist the allure, splashed out and bought a similar one from Mutts Nuts, because it seemed cheaper and of equal quality.
THE SHIRT FROM MUTTS NUTS JUST WASN’T MY STYLE
… but I’ve now sold it to a friend, who is a shirt connoisseur and loves it!