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History of Belt Buckles

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 buckle 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 buckles (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.

Belt Buckles


You say you are a belt buckles 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 buckle 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 buckles (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

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