A Western belt buckle is a fashion statement. It has been worn by the President of the United States, Texas oil tycoons, businessmen and businesswomen, hip and cool yuppies and other folks who like the distinct style and craftsmanship of a Western belt buckle. It is also known as a cowboy belt buckle or a rodeo belt buckle.
Surprisingly, this style of buckle did not originate from the American Old West but rather from the glamorous cowboy-inspired western movies done in Hollywood during the 1920's as accessories for the western heroes they created. Actually the cowboys of old did not wear belts. Suspenders were the norm during those times.
If you are a serious vintage rodeo buckle collector, then here are some tips on what to look for and where you can get these vintage buckles.
- Search the Internet and look for information on what types of rodeo buckles are collectibles, from the type of competition these buckles were awarded, the year, the designer and the material.
- Rodeo trophy buckles are made for a particular event. The year, the type of event and the location are usually on the buckle. The winner's name may also be inscribed. The more details there are on the buckle, the more valuable it will be.
- There are several sites that sell vintage rodeo buckles online. Check these sites and see if they have the type of buckle you are looking for. Price ranges vary greatly. Some worn ones and replicas sell from a few hundred dollars. An original can fetch up to thousands of dollars.
- Check the auction sales conducted by pawnshops. You might find some rare pieces there for a lower price. Or you can tell the reputable pawnshops that you are in the market for some collectible vintage rodeo buckles and ask if you can be invited to their auction.
- You can also check real estate sales and see what items are on sale. They usually have a catalog or at least a list of items they are selling.
- Look for Hesston Belt Buckles. Hesston Company was a leading manufacturer of farming equipment since 1955. They started making Hesston belts in 1974. Hesston began commissioning limited edition rodeo buckles annually as trophies for annual rodeo events that the company sponsored and featured a commemorative event stamping on the back, the designer's name and may include the designer's signature. Bill Manley created the designs from 1975 to 1983. Fred Fellows made the design from 1984 to 1989. Different designers were commissioned from 1990.
- If you have the funds, look for trophy buckles made by famous silversmith Edward H. Bohlin (1895-1980). Trophy buckles designed by Bohlin ranges from $1000 to about $1,600 in very good condition. A worn one can be bought for $999.
- Another designer whose designs are worth collecting is Clint Mortenson. His buckle designs are found in trophies given in several rodeo competitions in the US.
- You can also look for an oval B-K Calf Roping Trophy Buckle in silver and bronze.
- Look for a Holland Star Trophy Buckle, all sterling or with 14K yellow gold overlays. This oval buckles have floral designs with star cutout in the middle.
- Another trophy buckle you can consider is the irregularly shaped oval Nelson Silvia 1969 Reserve World Champion ARJA Optional Race in bronze or the 1970 edition in sterling and bronze.
There are more trophy buckles available through online sellers. Just remember that the older the buckle is the more expensive it will be. The price is also dependent on who designed it and the quantity that is still available in the market.