Sterling Silver Trophy-Style Belt Buckle
The lost-wax-cast Sweet Elsie trophy-style buckle is the last of the 2016 edition. The original was meticulously hand engraved by Neil, then molded and lost-wax-cast for beautiful detail. It was inspired by the Sweet Elsie guns by LC Smith and encompasses an elegant menagerie of design elements, as would often be found on an old Sweet Elsie double gun, distilled down to the size of a buckle.
The negative space is what makes this buckle distinctive. The main scrolls on the "side-plates" creates a nice dynamic thrust which focuses on the fully round rosette. This is balanced by the fan-shape on the right and the negative space between these two elements. An interesting juxtaposition is the small, checkered rectangle on the left. It adds an angular geometry among all the spirals and circles.
Neil hopes that when this buckle is 100 years old with wear-marks and patina, it will look as good as the antique, engraved guns he admires so much. The Sweet Elsie has a 1½" (38mm) opening and looks terrific on any color belt 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.