I bet you have seen them, giant silver and gold belt buckles! I’m sure you have at least seen them in your local country store. But how did they get to be like that? How did we get to Cowboys wearing buckles that are so big? Where did all of that come from?
Here is what I know, most everything that a Cowboy wears or carries has a use and usually multiple uses. So I did some digging to see if I could find out why the Cowboy buckle has gotten to be the way it is today.
From what I could find back in the 1800s cowboys would wear suspenders and no belt, this was a little more common for the time and it was a simple and functional way to keep your pants from falling down.
Fast forward to the mid-1950s and you started to see on the silver screen cowboys depicted wearing buckles and as you know everything is bigger on TV. So that started to influence the fashion of the working Cowboy.
The largest influence I believe though was the fact that a Cowboy wears something that is useful. In this vein of thought, I see why the rodeo trophies ended up being nice silver buckles rather than something that got put on a shelf. It was an award that was also functional!
A Cowboy’s belt buckle usually tells you something about him or her as well. So for the Cowboy, it is a bit of a calling card or brand or resume of accomplishments. This is why you will see a working Cowboy still wear a silver buckle. It usually is a prized possession and is functional to boot.
There is also an art to a hand carved belt buckle, there is usually generations of skills passed down to those who work the silver to become such a piece of art. I love the fact that a lot of what the Cowboy uses or wears stems from skills that have been passed down from generations. Like saddle making and leatherwork, or handmade tack. The need to be resourceful seems to have gone away nowadays. Everything is made to last only a little while and to be replaced as quickly as the item has broken. While the Cowboy sticks to his traditions and keeping the old ways alive, it’s unheard of in today’s society to be able to receive through purchase or as a gift something that is intended to last for generations but that is not the case with the Cowboy.
Quality made Belt buckles will last a lifetime plus if looked after and taken care of, these along with well-built saddles and tack you have the ability to buy or make something today that your great grandchildren will be able to use.
We’d love to hear your thoughts about Cowboy belt buckles, did we miss something important in the history of the belt buckle? Or do you have a family heirloom that was passed down from generation to generation? We’d love to hear about it, let us know in the comments below.
DDH Ranch is an affiliate of Montana Silversmiths