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Brass - A yellowish alloy of copper and zinc, sometimes including small amounts of other metals, but usually 67 percent copper and 33 percent zinc.

Bronze - 85% copper and 15% zinc, has a dark gold like look.

Buckle Set - Normally three pieces: one a buckle, another the tip of the belt and the third is a piece that holds the end of the belt. Almost always in silver or gold with lots of engraving.

Cast - To form (liquid metal, for example) into a particular shape by pouring into a mold. Pewter as an example is often made using a rubber mold process where tin plus alloys are poured into the mold and centrifically spun.

Coined - Process where the image of the buckle is physically stamped or pressed into a base material (often jeweler's bronze or brass)

Comstock Silver - The manufacturer's name for Bimet or Sterling overlay. A sheet of sterling silver bonded to a sheet of 18% nickel silver. Not an electroplate.

Copper - A ductile, malleable, reddish-brown metallic element that either pure or in alloys such as brass and bronze.

Engrave - To carve, cut, or etch into a block or surface.

Flopper - Term I learned from buckle expert Robert Brandes that indicates instead of a post soldered onto the buckle back there is a moveable, usually half moon shaped, piece of metal that is hinged on both sides, fastened to a second keeper and has the post soldered onto it facing the back of the buckle. This is often found on older buckles made in the western United States.

Friction Buckle - The belt is pulled behind and through the back of the buckle where part of the buckle "sticks" into the belt and holds it in place. Commonly used in military buckles.

German Silver - A white nickel alloy (65% copper, 17% zinc, & 18% nickel). Silver is a color description and doesn't imply content of the metal (in other words - there is no silver in German silver). Normally a darker surface look than sterling silver.

Gold - A soft, yellow, corrosion-resistant element, the most malleable and ductile metal, occurring in veins and alluvial deposits and recovered by mining or by panning or sluicing. Gold is generally alloyed to increase strength although it has a wonderful appearance.

Gold Electroplate - A thin layer of gold is electroplated (electrically bonded to the surface) for a rich and lustrous finish.

Gold Fill - The buckle maker uses a metal plate with gold 10-20% of the thickness on top, normally at least 10 karat gold, usually bronze underneath that. The gold layer must be at least 1/20th by weight of the total combined gold and metal to be classified as gold filled. A marking of 1/10th by weight is higher in gold content. Intricate deep carving requires the deeper depth, lots of times on older buckles the 10% fill wears off through use and you can see spots where the bronze or other materials shows through.

Gold Overlay - See Gold Fill and Rolled Gold Plate.

Gold Plate - See Gold Fill and Rolled Gold Plate.

Handcrafted - A crafted buckle skillfully constructed by hand rather than by machine.

Handmade - A crafted buckle constructed entirely by hand, not by machine.

Hand Engraved - An engraving process where the artist first traces a pattern onto a piece of silver or other material and then carves individual lines with hand held tools to form that engraving pattern. No machines or mechanical stamps are used.

Hand Fabrication - This production method of manufacturing buckles made of precious metals normally starts with a flat sheet of metal which is formed to the size and shape of the final piece. Several pieces may be soldered together to form a finished item.

Hinge - Sometimes the loop is secured to the buckle by putting it in two curved half round wires that secure the belt buckle loop to the back of the belt buckle. This allows the loop to move making for a flatter fit for the buckle.

Jewelers Bronze - A copper-zinc alloy of good color.

Keeper - On back of the buckle the part that is a metal "loop". You put the belt through this part and double the belt back, snapping it to hold the buckle in place. Normally buckles have the keeper on the side towards your left hand as you are wearing the buckle, but sometimes the keeper is on the right side - more of a tradition for women's belts.

Loop - The rectangular wire shaped piece secured to the back of the buckle which is used to anchor or secure one end of the belt.

Nickel Silver - Similiar to german silver, contains no silver.

Overlay - Overlay is constructed from two layers of sterling silver. A design is traced on a sheet of silver and cut out with a jeweler's saw by hand. This top design layer is then silver soldered to another sheet, the bottom layer, of silver. Texturing is added to the bottom layer in all the open areas of the design using a hammer and a small punch. The assembled item is hammered into its final form, contoured and oxidized to blacken the negative areas of the design. The top surface is then buffed to either a matte-like satin finish or to a mirror-like high polish.

Panorma Buckle - Refers to the shape of the buckle - a rectangular shape that is very wide horizontally. Sometimes called a "slide" buckle.

Pewter - Any of numerous silver-gray alloys of tin with various amounts of antimony, copper, and sometimes lead. At least 51% must be tin but good manufacturers often use up to 90% or more. It is valued because it will not tarnish, rust or deterioriate in any way.

Plaquet Buckle - A flat surface trophy buckle. The term was first used by Ed Bohlin in the 50-60s to refer to his #466 buckle style.

Post - The small "finger" that sticks out from the back of the buckle that goes into a punched hole in the belt, resulting in a belt size that is appropriate for you.

Ranger Set - Normally three pieces: one a buckle, another the tip of the belt and the third is a piece that holds the end of the belt. Almost always in silver or gold with lots of engraving.

Ribbon - Rectangular shapes, generally across the top and bottom of buckles, which permit engraving of information such as event titles, awards titles, recipients names, etc.

Rolled Gold Plate - A layer of at least 10 karat gold, or finer, is bonded mechanically to one or more surfaces of a supporting metal. The bonded material is then drawn or rolled to a specific thickness. The karat gold layer may be less than 1/20th by weight and must be disclosed (1/30, 1/40). A proper marking for a rolled gold plate item is 1/30 14 Karat Rolled Gold Plate.

Rope - Edging around the outside edge of the buckle that is twisted to look like a braided rope.

Silver - Lustrous white, ductile, malleable metallic element, occurring both uncombined and in ores such as argentite, having the highest thermal and electrical conductivity of the metals. It is highly valued for jewelry.

Silversmith - A person who makes and repairs objects made from silver.

Slide Buckle - Refers to the shape of the buckle - a rectangular shape that is very wide horizontally. Sometimes called a "panorma" buckle.

S/S - A symbol for sterling silver.

Silver Plate - A thin coating or plating of silver over a non-silver base, often bronze. It does not posess the longevity and luster of a solid sterling piece.

Stamped - Process where the image of the buckle is physically stamped or pressed into a base material (often jeweler's bronze or brass).

Stepped Tongue - A post or tongue that has extra material at the end where it fastens to the buckle so that the buckle doesn't penetrate the belt all of the way. Makes the buckle lie flatter.

Sterling Silver - A silver alloy consisting of 92.5% fine silver and 7.5% pure copper. Has a bright surface. By adding copper it causes the silver to become less pliable and stronger in its structure which improves both strength and durability. A solid sterling piece is nothing but sterling silver.

Solid Sterling Silver - A piece of silver that is top to bottom sterling. It is not plated with sterling, nor is it sterling overlay.

Tongue - The small "tooth" projection that is soldered to the back of the buckle and utilized to fit into the holes in a leather belt, securing it to the buckle. Sometimes called the post.

Trophy Buckle - Buckles that were made for a specific event such as a rodeo or cutting or other horse/cow event. They usually have the event name and year, maybe the individual event title and/or the winner's name. The more detail the more valuable.

Special thanks to Beal's Cowboy Buckles



 






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