Friday, April 22, 2011

O Hive Mind, What Do You Think of This Buckle?

This year for the Jane Austen Festival Ball in Louisville I am going to wear, once again, my 1795-style high-waisted white silk open robe, this time with a silk gauze petticoat over the opaque silk one. Last year I wore a short shot pink and gold Indian cotton sash with it. Here it is, below, worn with a wayward, baaaaaad-behaving fichu. I feel like a Pilgrim :}

This year, I'd like to wear a belt, instead, made of cream ribbon and clasped in front. In my collection, bought from a grab bag full of Kewpie dolls and 1960s earrings, is this cut steel belt buckle. There is a little rust on it, but not much. It's real cut steel, not an imitation, for like real cut steel pieces, each head is riveted to the frame. It's not quite four inches long and is probably late Victorian, meant to be worn with a sash.

Buckle front. Some rust, but not much,

Back of buckle. One side is missing its strap.
How it clasps.
So. Is this buckle too Victorian, or is the the stem and leaf design suitably late 18th-early 19th century? What do you think?

Cut steel was very popular in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It was popular, in fact, right into the twentieth century. In the recent Napoleon: Empire of Fashion exhibit, cut steel belts and other items, including a necklace, appeared, including a cut-steel butterfly on a Directoire (1790s) evening ensemble. Also, teardrop and leaf shapes were used in 18th century embroidery designs, which bear relation to jewelry designs, along with the round shapes.

Because of the rust and the missing strap, the buckle does not have much instrinsic value, so I feel okay wearing it. If I did wear it, would have to rig something for that missing strap.

I cannot decide whether to wear it, and go back and forth.

Your kind advice, pros and cons, please!


MrsC said...

It is lovely, and will look lovely. /have youtried shaking it in dry sand - they did that to get rust off chain mail so maybe it would work on this, getting into the crannies?
Perhaps the solution o wearing it (which I think you should) is to mount it onto a piece of fabric the same shape, so that the missing bit doesn't matter, sew it to one end of the belt and hook/eye the belt closed instead. that is what a clever 18th C lady would do! :)

In His Wings said...

I think the buckle is lovely. Unfortunately I don't know enough about the Directoire or Empire period to give any opinion as to its appropriateness for your time period. If it makes any difference, I think it would look gorgeous with your gown. I am certain whatever you choose, it will look stunning.

Good luck & God bless,
Sarah Grace

ZipZip said...

Mrs. C., bless you! Another excellent idea. Would have never dreamed to mount the buckle and make the real closure hooks and eyes. I had all kinds of crazy ideas, but none of them very study. I think I should leave the rust alone, though, for it's part of the story of the piece, its patina, if you will. Though practically valueless, the buckle does have something to tell, and perhaps that something was wine spilled, or raindrops, or mere damp from humidity in an un-air-conditioned Southern house. We'll never know, but it's fun to speculate.

Welcome, Sarah Grace! Thank you for the vote of confidence. I was really waffling. Each day would bring a contrary decision, and now that it's almost time to build the belt...well, it's high time for other perspectives.

Happy coming Easter, all!


Kleidung um 1800 said...

It's lovely! Please wear it!
There are quite some buckles to compare at the met museum


Anonymous said...

It's pretty! Go for it!

ZipZip said...

So far all yeas and no nays... This is helping!

Thanks for the suggestion to look on the Met's site. Will do so, Sabine.

Very best,


The Choll said...

To my inexperienced eye, the main thing that looks Victorian to me is the faceting on those tear-drop shapes. It give the piece a bit too much "glitz" for Regency. However, the other details seem perfectly acceptable. My suggestion would be to dip the piece in enamel (or paint) and wear it. The coating would obscure the rust (depending on what you use, it may actually HELP the rust situation) as well as diminish the faceting. It would look more architectural. It's a lovely thing!

ZipZip said...

Welcome, Choll!
It is those teardrop faceted shapes that give me pause, too. You nailed it :}

Very best,


An Historical Lady said...

Yes, wear the beautiful buckle! You and your gown are lovely~

ZipZip said...

Dear Mary,

Thank you so much! That's very appreciated, especially at the end of a day full of twin boys and garden mud. They go together and get everywhere, you know.

I think the group decision is, go with the buckle!

Very best,