Our button love has recently grown to include antique buckles. Sometimes we say that an antique button is like a tiny canvas that portrays a surprisingly insightful historic story. Buckles are the same but with a bigger canvas.
The history of buckles parallels that of buttons. Buckles first found popularity in the Middle Ages and Renaissance when it became trendy among noblemen and courtiers to adorn their capes, shoes, and armor with ornamental buckles embellished with bronze, jewels or glass.
In Victorian times, the techniques and materials used to manufacture buttons were also used to make buckles. In fact, matching sets of enamel, porcelain, and mother-of-pearl buttons and buckles were sold in velvet-lined jewelry boxes.
Shoe buckles emerged in the fourteenth century and have trended in and out of style ever since. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, men’s shoe buckles adorned with jewels and precious metals became an ostentatious status symbol. In the late nineteenth century, this trend migrated to women’s shoes. The popularity of decorative shoe buckles persisted through the roaring twenties and then enjoyed a small revival in the 1960s.
The buckles we collect were made for women’s fashions between 1860 and 1930. In the 1860s, tiny corseted waists were in vogue making buckles a trending accessory. One of our favorite shoe buckle types, made in France in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, contains hundreds of bits of faceted steel individually riveted onto a silvered brass base. These are rare finds, and the one-of-a-kind jewelry designs we produce with them always sell out quickly. So we also reproduce them in a modern casting, which is currently the centerpiece of our best selling Antoinette necklace.