(c) 2018 Steve Evans

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September 13, 2017 • www.AntiqueTrader.com • ANTIQUE TRADER 19
Steve Evans
If there ever was a golden age of buckle col-
lecting, it was during the 1980s and early 1990s.
Most of the interest had to do with “limited
edition” belt buckles, which were thought of as
instant collectors’ items and good investments.
Collectors especially liked a buckle with its
own individual number. Some models were pro-
duced in small quantities: a 1985 Kansas Auc-
tioneers Association buckle is “#60 of 300.” If a
buckle was planned for mass appeal, the minting
was higher, as with a 1983 Year of the Bible that
is numbered 4752 of 10,000.
Fred Cooley (1987 Flatlander Buckle Club
president), who had a collection of more than
500 buckles, said his interest in limited edition
buckles tied in with his love for history. In the
July 1987 issue of Buckle Buddies Magazine,
Cooley pointed out that “some buckles com-
memorate historical events, such as centennials
and anniversaries. Oen they contain back-plate
inscriptions that can be, for upcoming centuries,
acceptable records of today’s events.”
Buckle Buddies Magazine (published 1980-
1989) and Basically Buckles Magazine (pub-
lished 1989-1993) were great resources for buckle
collectors. ey contained informative articles,
advertisements for businesses that sold buckles,
and dates for buckle shows all across the U.S.
During this era there were several buckle
collecting clubs, including the Nebraska Buckle
Club, Flatlander Buckle Club, NABBC, Okla-
homa Buckle Club, and the Midwest Buckle Col-
lectors. ese clubs were eager to raise the status
of buckle collecting to a mainstream hobby, like
stamp collecting, but things haven’t gone well for
either hobby.
As interest in limited editions peaked, the
demand caused the introduction of an excessive
quantity of dierent models. Limited editions
started out as rare and special, but when the sup-
ply of dierent models seemed to be unlimited
Belt Buckles: Why ‘Limited’ doesnt mean ‘expensive
The 1982 Toy Farmer limited
edition buckle was put
out by the owners of Toy
Farmer Magazine, who
in 1989 started Basically
Buckles Magazine. ($12,
May 2017)
1988 USA Olympics
buckle. Beltside reads:
U.S.O.C. Licensed Product
/ © 1987 B-K Silversmiths,
Phoenix, AZ. ($7.70, April
Mid 1980s, An American,
John F. Kennedy buckle.
Reads: March-1943 As
Lieutenant, Was Given
Command of PT-109.
May-1961 Proposed U.S.
Space Program To Land
Team On Moon. Beltside
reads: First Edition / Rainy
Mtn. Design, OKC, OK /
Solid Brass / Serial No.
141. ($20, June 2017)
1985 U.S. Postal Worker commemorative
buckle. Beltside reads: This buckle is the first
buckle in a yearly series dedicated to the U.S.
Postal Worker. Due to their efforts American’s
(sic) enjoy the finest mail service in the world.
Stephen F. Curry / © 1984 Arroyo Grande Buckle
Co. / 1985 Limited Edition, #1724 of 5000.
($16.03, July 2017)
1990 Cargill Hybrid Seeds
buckle: 125 Years, Building
On Tradition, Serving
American Agriculture.
Beltside reads: This is
the 3rd buckle produced
under the Cargill Seeds
name. This 1990 buckle
has special significance
as it commemorates the
125th anniversary of Cargill
Inc. Cargill Hybrid Seeds is
committed to development,
testing, and production
of the best quality seed
possible. “Count On Cargill”
Limited Edition, 985 of 1000.
($15.50, April 2017)
1988 39th International Pancake Day buckle
depicts the Pancake Day race held in both Liberal,
Kansas and Olney, England on February 16, 1988.
The back of the buckle shows it was designed
by “Western Associates Inc of Marion, Kansas.”
Limited Edition, No. 124 of 500. ($15, May 2017)
Unless otherwise noted, values reflect eBay purchase prices including shipping.
20 ANTIQUE TRADER www.AntiqueTrader.com • September 13, 2017
1985 Puyallup Fair buckle:
Get Quakin’, Do The
Puyallup. Beltside reads
(in part): The Western
Washington fair has become
one of the nation’s 10 largest,
hosting over a million visitors
annually. This is the third
buckle in a yearly series
commemorating the Puyallup
Fair. Treasures Jewelry Co.,
Tacoma, WA © 1985 Siskiyou
Buckle Co. / 1985 Limited
Edition, No. 324 of 1200
($4.69, April 2017)
it was too much of a good thing – especially for
buckle collectors who were trying to buy one of
each model at $15 to $40 per buckle (calculating
for ination, $32 to $86 each in 2017 dollars).
Even though these buckles are 30 or so years
old, their values haven’t gone up. For one thing,
the recession of 2008 put a dent in the value
of many things, including collectables. Also,
collecting” lost much of its appeal when col-
lectors started being diagnosed by their spouses
as “hoarders” and referred to as such (albeit in
e term “hoarder” became popular in 2009
with the airing of the reality TV series called
Hoarders (2009 to present on A&E), which
has been featuring pitiful individuals with a
psychotic tendency to save everything they
get their hands on, including garbage. is TV
show may be why many of today’s young adults
refer to themselves as “minimalists,” meaning
they don’t want a lot of possessions.
During the buckle collecting heyday of the
’80s and ’90s, collectors took great pride in their
collections, and a collection was admired if it
included hundreds of buckles. Most of those
original purchasers are elderly today, and what
were once prized buckles are being passed down
to children and grandchildren who oen are
not interested in collecting.
is may explain why so many limited edi-
tion buckles are available for purchase on eBay.
Go to eBay.com and see for yourself. Use the
search phrase “Limited Edition Belt Buckle”
and you will nd more than 2,000 for sale. Click
on eBay’s “Sold Listings” feature to see what
kind of bargains have transpired over the last 30
days. e prices are low. [Note: Unless specied,
values shown in this article are what the author
paid on eBay, shipping included.]
ese limited edition buckles are now vin-
tage. e supply is high and the market values
low, so it’s time to buy!
Many limited edition buckles are really
beautiful, and it’s no stretch to refer to them
as works of art. e intricacy of a sculptor’s
work in making the 1982 “American Fisher-
men” buckle is really something. Details such
as foliage along the river bank, the boat’s visible
registration number (CA-3386-81), and the man
wearing his favorite shing hat are all elements
of this adrenaline-lled battle, complete with a
sh leaping from the buckle and the sherman
trying to reel him back in.
How about the 1990 “Kansas, Land of Oz”
buckle? It’s a solid brass beauty. A treasure trove
of scenes from e Wizard of Oz: Scarecrow,
Tin Man, Dorothy, the Cowardly Lion and Toto
following the yellow brick road; a tornado li-
ing Dorothys farm house over a rainbow; the
Wizard, the Wicked Witch of the West, and y-
ing monkeys o in the distant sky. Wow!
e art of a buckle may be “busy” with many
things and/or activities shown, but this oen
works beautifully. e 1990 “Kansas Coliseum”
10th Annual Mulvane Old
Settlers Rod Run buckle.
Beltside reads: John and
Mary Salcedo’s 1955 Ford is
shown here along with Bob
and Beverly Cooke’s 1909
Ford and Ton Ghelarduccl’s
1966 Ford. They are parked
on Main Street in front of the
old Santa Fe Depot. In 1982
the depot was reopened as
a museum to help preserve
and remember the history
of Mulvane, Kansas. MOS
Rod Run Committee,
Chris Middendorf, Tammie
Middendorf, George &
Sheida Leach. Artwork by
B. Scott Maines. © 1991
Siskiyou Buckle Co. 1991
Limited Edition, No. 19 of
500 ($12.67, June 2017)
1989 Christmas
Commemorative buckle.
Beltside reads: “This
buckle is the seventh in
a yearly series, wishing
you and your family a
very Merry Christmas.”
Stephen F. Curry, Linda
West Curry / © 1989
Arroyo Grande Buckle Co.
1989 Limited Edition, No.
102 of 750. ($14.11, April
1982 American Aviation
Commemorative buckle.
Beltside reads: From the
dawn of time, man has always
wanted to fly with the birds.
We live in a most exciting
time in aviation history. This
buckle is dedicated to all
those who made it possible
and to those who continue
to work to bring us better
methods of air transportation.
Linda West / © 1981 Arroyo
Grande Buckle Co. 1982
Limited Edition, No. 1400 of
5000 ($12.95, July 2017)
1990 Kansas, Land of Oz
buckle, made by Award
Design Medals, solid brass,
Limited Edition, Serial #314.
($59.99, June 2017)
1977 Hoosier Hundred, 25th
Anniversary buckle depicts
Bob Harkey’s car #52 and
A.J. Foyt in #14, sprint car
racing at the Indiana State
Fairgrounds’ Hoosier 100
mile race. Beltside shows
all the winners’ names
from 1953 through 1977. /
Indiana Metal Craft Limited
Edition, #40 of 500. ($12,
July 2017)
All buckles courtesy the Steve Evans Collection.
September 13, 2017 • www.AntiqueTrader.com • ANTIQUE TRADER 21
buckle depicts a music concert, soccer game,
ice skating, horse show, a circus elephant and a
livestock exhibition which were all seen at the
Coliseum, plus two Long Horn cattle sculptures
(made mostly from auto bumpers) located out-
side the arena. e Kansas Coliseum (12 miles
north of Wichita) was shuttered in 2010 aer 32
years of entertainment. Now all that is le are
fond memories, and this neat buckle!
Many of the best looking limited edition
buckles came from the Siskiyou Buckle Com-
pany of Williams, Oregon. Siskiyou did a great
job designing their buckles, but out-sourced
the actual manufacturing to Bergamot Fine Art
Foundry of Delavan, Wisconsin.
Many companies had the same relationship
with Bergamot, and these buckles sometimes
have the Bergamot Brass Works logo (a stylized
BBW in a circle), but also can be identied by
Bergamots unique belt attachments (miniature
lions, eagle heads, or Bergamots more common
“owers with leaves”).
e Ames Tool Company (founded in 1774)
is known as the oldest hardware manufacturing
company in America. Buckle collectors learned
about Ames (and history) through Siskiyou’s se-
ries of ten Ames Tools buckles, rst in 1981 and
a dierent model each year thereaer through
1991. Each buckle depicts a signicant historical
event on the front and a written account on the
back, much like miniature time capsules for the
Ames Company.
Take a look at Ames’ “Mount Rushmore”
buckle (7th in the series) and read its inscription.
Pretty interesting stu. is buckle was made
of pewter (as were most limited editions) and in
1987 sold new for $20.
One of the kookiest ideas for a buckle was
the 1993 “Boise City - Bombed!” buckle. It com-
memorated the 50th anniversary of the acciden-
tal bombing of Boise (rhymes with voice) City,
Oklahoma. e actual event took place on July
5, 1943, and involved a B-17 bomber and its crew
on a training ight. ey were supposed be on a
practice bombing run over a range near Conlen,
Texas, but were o course by 30 miles. It was aer
1983 “Park City Queen”
buckle. Beltside reads:
Park City Queen River
Boat By Michael Ricker
Copyright 1983 / Limited
Edition / Number 568 of
3500 ($5.87, March 2017)
1988 County Weed Directors
Association of Kansas. Bur
Ragweed buckle. Beltside
reads (in part): Fifth Edition,
Collector’s Series / Bur
Ragweed, Fransesia Tomentosa
... Declared Noxious By The
Kansas Board Of Agriculture /
Walkers jewelry Inc., Kingman,
Kansas / Limited Edition of 250,
Number 182. ($14.25, June
1982 American Fishermen
buckle. Beltside reads: This
buckle is dedicated to the men
who fish the ocean, lakes,
rivers and streams of America.
Their love of nature has been
passed on from father to son.
Stephen F. Curry / © 1981
Arroyo Grande Buckle Co. /
1982 Limited Edition, 458 of
5000. ($12.67, June 2017)
1987 Ames Tools, Mount
Rushmore buckle. Beltside
reads: On a granite cliff in
the Black Hills of South
Dakota stands a huge
carving of four great
American presidents:
Washington, Jefferson,
Roosevelt and Lincoln.
Began in 1927 by Gatzon
Borglam, it was completed
14 years later by his son.
Ames Tools were there
to help build this famous
American landmark. /
©1987 Siskiyou Buckle Co.
/ Limited Edition, Serial
#5800. ($8.99, April 2017)
Caterpillar Tractors Shaped A Decade buckle. Beltside
reads: In 1978 caterpillar offered machine buyers an
idea far from ordinary: elevated sprocket tractors. That
design stood alone in the industry ... as it still does
today. CAT staked its reputation on the innovative
concept ... and customers had the courage to trust
our judgment. That trust paid off, because CAT
elevated sprocket tractors have proven to perform
far better than oval track models. And a decade later,
on August 5, 1988, the 25,000th elevated sprocket
tractor rolled off the assembly line....another milestone
in Caterpillar’s tractor history. Limited Edition, Serial
#5497. This belt buckle die was destroyed Dec. 31,
1989. ($9.15, July 2017)
1993 Walnut Valley Festival
buckle. Headin’ Home,
Winfield, Kansas. Beltside
reads: The National
Flatpicking Championship
is held the third weekend
in September each year at
Winfield, Kansas. September
16-19, 1993 / S & S Buckle
Company / Limited Edition,
No. 96 of 200. ($13.93, June
1989 Apollo Moon Landing
20th Anniversary buckle.
Beltside reads: This buckle
is dedicated to the men and
women who work in the
Aerospace industry. They
made Neil Armstrong’s
“One Small Step For Man”
possible, on July 20, 1969.
/ © 1988 Arroyo Grande
Buckle Co. / Limited
Edition, 1159 of 5000
($22.58, July 2017)
22 ANTIQUE TRADER www.AntiqueTrader.com • September 13, 2017
midnight and the only lights visible were those
of the Boise City courthouse square. e plane
dropped six 100-pound bombs, each loaded
with four pounds of dynamite and 90 pounds
of sand. Luckily no one was injured, but the
bombs did hit within 93 feet of the courthouse.
Another interesting buckle is the 1988
“39th International Pancake Day” buckle. e
buckle’s art depicts two women nishing a race,
at two locations; Liberal, Kansas and Olney,
England. e race is held each year at 11:55 a.m.
on Shrove Tuesday (the day before Lent) with
25 runners at both sites. e participants run
a 415-yard course while wearing an apron and
head scarf, and carrying a pancake in a frying
pan. e friendly competition has been going
on since 1950 and the overall score (as of 2017)
is: Liberal 37 wins and Olney 29 wins.
e more known about a buckle can enhance
its collectibility, and the year of manufacture
is one of the things buckle collectors want to
know. ere is an exceptional dating feature
on the back of a 1991 “Desert Storm, Air Force”
buckle. It actually shows the exact day it was
made, January 16, 1991, the rst day of Opera-
tion Desert Storm (combat action to drive Iraqi
forces from Kuwait). e maker was obviously
waiting for combat to begin. Four versions of
the buckle were made on that date: Air Force,
Army, Marines and Navy.
e 1989 “Caterpillar Tractors, Machines
that Shaped a Decade” buckle has a similar dat-
ing feature. It shows the exact day the buckle
die was going to be destroyed – December 31,
1989 – which let collectors know that no more
buckles of this model were produced aer that
All of the buckles shown in this article were
made in the U.S.A., and they typically measure
3 3/8 inches wide by 2 3/8 inches tall.
Please consider, dear reader, getting yourself
a limited edition belt buckle. Go for a model
that really “speaks” to you. If one in this article
does strike your fancy, then use that model
name or brand as search words on eBay and you
might just get your own prized belt buckle.
1993 Boise City - Bombed!
buckle. Commemorating the
50th anniversary of the July
5, 1943, accidental bombing
of the courthouse square
in Boise City, Oklahoma.
Beltside shows the attractive
seal of Anacortes Brass
Works / Limited Edition,
#286 of 300. ($12.15, July
1990 Kansas Coliseum
buckle. The beltside of
this buckle shows the
Sedgwick County seal and
has a plaque that reads (in
part): Dedicated September
1978 For The Promotion
Of Agricultural, Education,
And The Cultural Benefits
In Behalf Of The People Of
The World By The Citizens
Of Sedgwick County ...” / ©
The Buckle Source, Wichita,
Kansas / Limited Edition.
($12.50, July 2017)
1991 Operation Desert Storm -
Air Force buckle. Beltside reads:
“This Morning ... We Launched
Operation Desert Storm ... You
Must Be The Thunder And
Lightning” General Schwarzkopf /
This Buckle Is Dedicated To The
Men, Women, And Supporters
Of Operation Desert Storm. / ©
Buckle Connection 91 / Limited
Edition / Commemorative /
Date Of Minting Jan. 16, 1991.
Serial Number 1018 OF 5015 (5
Months 15 Days) Note: The 5015
quantity is significant because
the troop buildup of Operation
Desert Shield had been going
for 5 months and 15 days before
Operation Desert Storm began.
($18.50, June 2017)
1985 Kansas Auctioneers
Association buckle. The
beltside has a built-in stand
and a plaque that reads: The
old parlor pump organ, wash
stand, pitcher and bowl,
kerosene lamp are but a
partial list of nostalgic items
found at estate auctions.
They bring charm to our
homes. Merchants use them
to display their wares. Public
auctions continue to provide
social blending as well as
establishing fair market value.
/ ©1984 Siskiyou Buckle Co.
/ Lane M. Gehring / Limited
Edition, No. 60 of 300.
($25.74, June 2017)
1987 NABBC Buckle
Collecting Is Big Fun
buckle. This buckle was
put out by the Nation
Association of Belt Buckle
Collectors. Beltside reads
(in part): “... This Buckle
Subject Was Started By
Buckle Enthusiast From
Many Walks Of Life To Help
Promote Collecting.” /
Solid Bronze / First Edition,
Second Series, Ser. No. 149
(Etsy.com, $12.95, July
Prairie Port Festival ‘90
buckle. Beltside reads
(in part): This buckle
commemorates the Sixth
Annual El Dorado Prairie
Port Festival, held July
25 - July 30, 1990. The
Festival expanded this year
to include the Kansas State
National Baseball Congress
Tournament. / Original
Design By B. Scott Haines
© 1990 Wells Designs, El
Dorado, Kansas / 1990
Limited Edition, No. 15 of
1,000. ($13, May 2017)
Steve Evans is an avid belt buckle collector in Arkansas. He has around 400 buckles in his collection,
including more than 75 limited edition buckles. Steve usually writes about vintage guitars, but he’s
currently enamored with belt buckles. You can reach Steve at Jacksonville Guitar Center, 1105
Burman Dr., Jacksonville, AR 72076; jvilguitar@aol.com. Shop/Guitar Museum hours are Tues.-Sat.,
10 a.m.-5 p.m.
See more of Steve Evans’ buckle collection on page 42
4 ANTIQUE TRADER www.AntiqueTrader.com • September 13, 2017
Behind the Gavel
Continued from page 12
antique store in this town?”
In a 2009 paper titled “Branding Strat-
egies During Economic Crisis: Avoiding
the Erosion” [http://bit.ly/2wNSp0s],
Dainora Grundley of Vilnious University
“Brands represent a consumer, busi-
ness or regional shorthand for what a
company does and how well it does it.
Brands are a valuable corporate asset that
can increase protability, sales and even
share value. Brands shrink sales cycles.
ey bolster competitive prowess and
help launch new oerings. ey enable
higher pricing.”
Don’t dilute your brand by attempt-
ing to re-name and re-focus it. You’re an
antique dealer. Stand your ground and
refresh your image rather than re-brand-
ing. If sales are down, go out and nd
some new customers. eyre out there!
I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts they
1983 Year of the Bible buckle. The
beltside has a built-in stand and a
plaque that reads “Resolved by the
Senate and house of Representatives of
the United States of American Congress
assembled. That the President is
authorized and requested to decree
1983 as a national “Year of the Bible”
in recognition of both the formative
influence the Bible has been for our
Nation and our national need to study
and apply the teachings of the Holy
Scripture.” Approved October 4, 1982,
From Public Law 97-280. / ©1983
Bergamot Brass Works, Inc / Limited
Edition, No. 4752 of 10,000. ($12.88,
April 2017)
Limited Edition Buckles
Continued from page 22
1992 26th Annual Easter Jeep Safari buckle.
Beltside reads: This is the second buckle in an
exclusive limited edition series commemorating the
Red Rock 4-Wheelers Easter Jeep Safari. Pictured
is a Jeep CJ-7 crossing The Devil’s Crack on the
world famous MOAB RIM TRAIL. ... It is one of
our oldest trails and you have not 4-wheeled
around Moab until you have survived the RIM! /
©1992 Siskiyou Buckle Co. / Limited Edition, No.
196 of 1000. ($27.99, June 2017)
1983 SCUBA Diving buckle. The buckle’s
art depicts two scuba divers who find a
sunken treasure, but are more surprised
to see a mermaid. Beltside reads: Scuba
diving is a fascinating adventure that
enables people to enjoy sealife and
achieve lifetime fantasies. This is a very
popular and rewarding sport. Roni Houser
/ ©1983 Siskiyou Buckle Co. / J.E. and
Ellen Williamson and Ed Gilles / Registered
Edition, Serial No. 451.
($16.99, June 2017)
1988 John Deere, Model D buckle. Gold plated!
Beltside reads: Introduced in 1923, The Model
“D” Established John Deere In The Farm Tractor
Business. Because it Was Low Cost, Economical
To Run, Maneuverable, Easy To Operate And
Service Durable And Dependable, The “D”
Became One Of The Most Popular Tractors For
Its Time. / © 1988 Deere & Company / Limited
Edition, #3601 / 6000. ($21.29, April 2017)
1987 Hardware Store buckle. Harry Bryant, who
was in the hardware business for 38 years, designed
this pewter belt buckle and had it made by C&J
Manufacturing. ©1987 H. Bryant, Inc., Frederick,
Maryland / Limited Edition, No. 1711 of 10,000.
($13.12, April 2017)
1987 Maryland Farmer
Commemorative buckle. © 1987 H.
Bryant, Inc. / Limited Edition, #136 of
500. ($13.12, April 2017)
1993 Kansas State Fair buckle; Salute to 100 Years of
Ferris Wheels. Beltside reads: Official Commemorative
Buckle The Official Kansas State Fair, September 10th-
19th, 1993, Hutchinson, Kansas / Stone Post Buckles,
Hays, KS / Solid Brass / Serial No. 480. ($8.75, May 2017)
1993 The Old Oregon Trail buckle;
150 Years Historic Trails Wagon Train
1843-1993. Beltside reads: A tribute to
the Native Americans, the land and the
people. Produced by Dart Inc. Official
Commemorative Collectors Numbered
Edition, #521. ($27.14, July 2017)