Sterling Silver & Mokume-gane Rail Trophy-Style Belt Buckle w/Gold Trout
This buckle brings to mind a trout swimming upstream. This unique buckle is assembled using tiny rivets. The parts are a main body plate, the two rails (top and bottom), several hinge and lock parts, and the bail and prong on the back. These buckles are uniquely engineered to have countless possibilities for materials in the main body as well as different buckle widths. All but the main body plates are lost-wax-cast. This main body plate is Mokume-gane with a 14K gold overlay trout and 24K gold and pure silver line-inlay.
Mokume-gane (Japanese for "wood grained metals") is a type of Japanese married metal made from diffusion bonded laminates often used in decorating swords, in this case consisting of sterling silver and shibuichi. It is usually worked from the back to produce valleys and ridges on the front, which are filed and sanded to reveal a unique design. A specially formulated chemical treatment leaves a rich patina, highlighting the character of the metal's design. There is risk and discovery in making each piece.
Overall measurements of the buckle face are 1⅜" (35mm) high, and 2⅜" (60mm) long. It is a heavy silver trophy style buckle with Neil's swivel bail, allowing the buckle to lie flat (see angled photo).
This buckle is 1" (25mm) wide and looks great on a straight or tapered strap.
About Gun-Style Engraving
In the 1800s the American West was settled by Europeans, who were also the first to wear silver buckle tip sets. These buckle sets came to be known as Ranger Sets, after the legendary Texas Rangers. At that time engraving was directly from, or inspired by, European traditions in design and technique. Engraving in silver and engraving on guns were diverging into distinctly different styles. This distinction, as well as the popularity of ranger sets, was accentuated when Hollywood defined the “cowboy look” in the 1920s and -30s. This Western, or Bright-Cut, engraving became the standard for buckle engraving and has been the de facto method and look… until now.
Neil’s buckle sets are engraved in the Gun-Style (single point) rather than the Western style (bright cut), and are finding popularity for their sophisticated look and attractive designs. His hand engraved original buckles are highly valued by afficionados. These traditional ranger buckle sets with old world gun-style engraving remind us that the New West is still firmly rooted in the Old West.
The essence of tradition in the arts can be seen in 2,000 years of continually evolving Acanthus decoration, from Greek columns, to English shotguns, and now to American belt buckles.