belt buckle attachement, c. 1380s

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Clarsach
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belt buckle attachement, c. 1380s

Post by Clarsach »

Hi!

What a wonderful community you have here! I couldn't find this topic in the archives, so I thought I'd ask you.

.. I'm trying to put together an accurate-as-I-can outfit for a historical presentation come summer. (c.1380s, southern England, artisan class, female)

And so here's my question.
Most all the reproduction belts/girdles I see have the buckle attached with a metal plate sandwiching the leather.
Almost all the reenactors I see here use either rivets or stitches to fasten it directly to the belt, just like we do today for modern belts.

Were both methods used in period? Most of the artwork I've seen (where I could tell at all) looked like there may well have been a plate, but given the number of buckles dug up all on their lonesome (presumably with all the leather bits rotted away) - I assume either a stitched or a leather lacing method was common. If so.. do we have any examples to look at?

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Brother Ranulf
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Re: belt buckle attachement, c. 1380s

Post by Brother Ranulf »

There is a brilliant book published by the Museum of London called "Dress Accessories 1150 - 1450", which covers girdles, buckles, strap-ends, mounts, brooches, pins, buttons and lots more, based on finds in London and particularly the waterlogged deposits near the Thames.

The buckles section (like all the sections in the book) shows illustrations of each object, what it is made from, how it was attached, together with size and other details.

Dating is a bit tedious, as archaeologists use "phases" rather than dates, but phases 10 and 11 include the 1380-ish era. Buckles from these phases are almost always fitted to a folded buckle plate of various shapes, most often riveted to the leather. There are many examples of buckles minus their plates and a few examples where the leather simply passes through the buckle and is stitched to itself. So the answer must be that both arrangements were used.
Brother Ranulf

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Velund
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Re: belt buckle attachement, c. 1380s

Post by Velund »

Look here too:
http://www.ukdfd.co.uk/ukdfddata/showcat.php?cat=191
Both cases are presented.
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Clarsach
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Re: belt buckle attachement, c. 1380s

Post by Clarsach »

Thank you both!

As it happens, my copy of "Dress Accessories" arrived by post today! It's *amazing* what's in there..
(thought now I want the rest of 'em.. :p )

Out of curiosity, have you ever come across the "belt plate" concept done with leather?
It's ambiguous, but that was the first thing I thought when I saw this WETA picture -

Image

I've no idea whether it's historically inspired or not, but seems it would be logical to a mind already thinking in terms of the metal chapes (is that the right word in this context?) fastening buckles down.
Any idea offhand if there's a "real world" example done in such a manner?

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Brother Ranulf
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Re: belt buckle attachement, c. 1380s

Post by Brother Ranulf »

As you will appreciate, that photograph shows kit that is more Middle Earth than Middle Ages. All the details of blade, guard, hilt, pommel and scabbard are straight out of someone's imagination, so it must be safe to assume the belt is the same.

It is unlikely you will find any period evidence for an arrangement of buckle and strap exactly like the one shown, since surviving leather depends entirely on precise preservation conditions - usually waterlogged deposits such as those on the Thames waterfront and any examples from there will be in the London Museum book. The only other major site I have seen with that kind of preservation of leather is at York, where finds tend to date much earlier than the 14th century.
Brother Ranulf

"Patres nostri et nos hanc insulam in brevi edomuimus in brevi nostris subdidimus legibus, nostris obsequiis mancipavimus" - Walter Espec 1138

Laffin Jon Terris
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Re: belt buckle attachement, c. 1380s

Post by Laffin Jon Terris »

Not a hard and fast rule (as usual) but buckle plates seem to be the norm.

I also appears that the only time rivets should be used in leather is if they are attaching to something metal (ie armour/straps or buckle/plate). If this is not the case then the leather should be sewn.

JonT
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Clarsach
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Re: belt buckle attachement, c. 1380s

Post by Clarsach »

Thank you gentlemen!

And please don't worry Brother, there's no chance I'll be wearing a Middle Earth sword around... (or any sword, for that matter. :P )

Now that the reproduction buckles arrived in the post, I see the other reason to use metal ... there simply isn't room in those tiny little things for two thicknesses of leather!

So - brass sheet it is then. Got the snips and a file today. This is kinda fun!
For rivets... I've a friend who does aircraft repair, and they use soft domed yellowish metal rivets. Would borrowing a couple from him work for this as well - or do I need to look for a rod of some kind to cut down?)

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gaukler
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Re: belt buckle attachement, c. 1380s

Post by gaukler »

Brass brads make excellent buckle plate rivets. For a photo-essay on how to do it, go to http://medievalwares.com/rivetpage/Rivetting.html at my site.
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Velund
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Re: belt buckle attachement, c. 1380s

Post by Velund »

So - brass sheet it is then. Got the snips and a file today. This is kinda fun!
For rivets... I've a friend who does aircraft repair, and they use soft domed yellowish metal rivets. Would borrowing a couple from him work for this as well - or do I need to look for a rod of some kind to cut down?)
If I remember right from Dress Accessories - the rivets might have been of different metal - some times brass/bronze - just like the plates, sometimes steel ones. Sometimes both steel and brass rivets might have been used along with brass plate.
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Colin Middleton
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Re: belt buckle attachement, c. 1380s

Post by Colin Middleton »

Velund wrote:
So - brass sheet it is then. Got the snips and a file today. This is kinda fun!
For rivets... I've a friend who does aircraft repair, and they use soft domed yellowish metal rivets. Would borrowing a couple from him work for this as well - or do I need to look for a rod of some kind to cut down?)
If I remember right from Dress Accessories - the rivets might have been of different metal - some times brass/bronze - just like the plates, sometimes steel ones. Sometimes both steel and brass rivets might have been used along with brass plate.
Yep! You see both buckle plates (in a variety of metals, but usually latten, i.e. brass) and they may be attached with rivits of any metal. Iron/steel was quite popular for rivets in brass items because of the strength. You don't really notice the colour difference.

I tend to use steel panel pins from Wickes for small rivets, but you need a small (1.5mm) drill to put the hole in for it. Remember to use a 4oz peining hammer, an 8oz one is too heavy and you'll struggle to control it.

Gaukler's instructions are spot on for how to do it though.

Good luck
Colin

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