Hand Engraved Steel Trophy-Style Belt Buckle w/Silver
This one-of-a-kind trophy-style belt buckle is a beautiful example of what an artist can do with a blank canvas, even a steel one. In classic gun engraving fashion the bulino fly fishing scene is contrasted with the surrounding acanthus scrolls, and has enough depth that it feels like you're looking through a scroll-work window.
Neil did some daring experimentation on this buckle. In the past he has wanted to attempt soldering steel to silver, but he has hesitated, and failed once. This buckle has a steel front and a sterling silver back. It was designed "on the fly", as he was engraving, which is both fun and challenging - he could end up "painting" himself into a corner. Somehow, this approach really works for Neil. He has rarely been in a corner he couldn't "paint" himself out of...
There are two kinds of border: the dot-and-line and the running leaf. The checkering is more elaborate than Neil's usual style, because he's starting to pay more attention to the checkering on the wood-stock on engraved guns. He utilized another trick of the gun-style engraving trade, with the single-direction hatching on the front of the silver buckle bail, to make it less shiny - he wants the focus to be on the buckle - and the side of the bail is hand engraved. He wanted the buckle to look hand-made, as that is certainly one of his specialties.
Neil always uses his hinged bail for his trophy-style buckles these days. He likes this because it makes the belt easier to put on and more comfortable to wear.
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.