Superior Ruffed Grouse
Solid Sterling Silver Trophy Buckle with 14K Gold
The lost-wax-cast Superior "Ruffed Grouse" belt buckle is named for the Superior National Forest in northern Minnesota. The Ruffed Grouse overlays and the "fans" on either side of the belt buckle are rendered in 14K Gold. This is one of Neil's earlier pieces of work. This Trophy-style buckle is rather heavy, with a lot of Gold.
The Ruffed Grouse is shown in its "natural habitat," hidden in the darker, heavier underbrush of the forest floor. The scrollwork background is heavily hatched and cross-hatched, and thereby quite dark. There is a lot of detail in the birds themselves, accentuating the pattern of the feathers. The "fans" on either side of the buckle is a fun design-detail reminiscent of the tail-feathers of the grouse.
This is a 1¼" (32mm) wide trophy-style buckle intended for a straight 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.