I found this little buckle when digging around in an old sewing kit in the top of our barn. It’s a stock buckle that dates from 1780 onward, perhaps to 1820 but possibly later.
The body is a yellow alloy, probably brass, and the ‘gems’ are cut steel. The pronged bar turns on an axle that’s attached inside tiny U-shaped pieces of metal, which are soldered to the back.The bar was made from very thin flat stock, as opposed to the body of the buckle, which was cut from much thicker stuff.The little prongs appear to be made from wire. The axle is steel. The buckle is about 2 3/8 inches long, and exactly one inch wide.
This buckle has been broken somewhere along the line. A second bar is missing completely, and the axle is unattached at one side on the back. I could have it repaired with a little dab of solder, but I’m too worried about something else falling off when the metal is heated … so I haven’t had it fixed yet.
Cut steel buckles seem to have grown in popularity during the 1780s, and the technique is still used today. Check these links out for more cut steel:
Scroll down a little on this next link – a very similar cut steel buckle is in the first picture down:
A pair of cut steel shoe buckles:
And finally, an almost identical buckle, for sale. It’s on the fifth row down.