Starrett Belt Buckle
I saw a brass Starrett belt buckle at a flea mkt the other day. The seller said they only made 1500 for a special event. He also said they were all made in the Starrett plant in Athol. When I looked closely at the back, it said made by some American(?) Belt Buckle company or something to that effect. Not made by Starrett. The seller became quiet, said it was worth his price and I walked away.
So; now, I wonder what that was?
This might be another one on ebay right now:
A cheaper open price. Looks the same to me. No box, no description. Very similar in sales method.
I have a several dozen buckles advertising International Trucks, Snap-On and Mac tools and other odds and ends. There are several companies in the buckle business. It must be pretty cheap to make a die by CNC from a CAD drawing and then turn out a few hundred or thousands of buckles and then do it again with a new design. Most are "pewter" type metal, sometimes with brass, chrome or gold plating. I think one of my Snap-On buckles is sterling silver, but most say solid brass. Some of the Mac buckles are made by Thr Great American Buckle Co.
Some buckles were given to customers or employees and some were sold. I think some of mine might say limited edition on the back, but that does not mean much, since all of them were made in relatively small quantities for limited distribution.
I see on Amazon that the buckle company even makes buckles advertising themselves. But a reviewer said it was made in Mexico.
I wish you had a picture of the buckle you mentioned. I have seen several different buckles with "STARRETT" on them.
I can only recall the details of the latest that I saw. It was all brass, had "STARRETT" above an eagle motif and banner with "American Made" on it. On the back was a box with "STARRETT" and "American Made" below that.
If I recall correctly, that buckle came as a premium with a carpenters tape Starrett sells.
I have not seen any catalog entry for a Starrett belt buckle, but one could exist. There is precedent for them selling advertising do-dads such as pencil pocket clips and their logo as a tie tack - which I think is numbered "#1" in earlier catalogs.
If your belt buckle looked like the one I described, it was indeed a Starrett item. But, who knows what the flea market seller had. So much stuff coming out of China nowadays. Have you seen the knock-off "Plumb Barbara" plumb bob?
Here you go, guys. One new Starrett buckle on eBay.
STARRETT BELT BUCKLE - eBay (item 120606472246 end time Aug-18-10 10:28:43 PDT)
Completed listings show one sold for $5 and one sold for $10.
I think that one ebay is the same buckle or very similar. One I saw looked and felt like solid brass. And in fine print on the back Great (?)American Buckle company front Eagle, "Made in America". If his was that buckle came as a premium with a carpenters tape Starrett sells then is that what is now on ebay? The flea mkt seller seemed obligated to spin up a whole story around this thing. He lacked any credibility at all. I dont think it was Chinese. I just did not buy the sellers story. I would have been happy to take it for $10, but that was not an option.
Note that metal belt buckles are often made by the "powdered metal" process. I'm not certain if this actually qualifies as "Solid Brass" or "Solid Pewter", although I will concede that perhaps it does because is is one type of metal through and through, not "filled" or plated.
I just go this reply on the one offered on ebay. He is from Orange, right next to Athol.
Same buckle, I am now sure. Still no idea when/why/how many were made. If they sell for $10 on ebay must not be much of anything special. I glad I did not get sucked into dropping more by our local flea marketeer. Clearly not made in Athol, as represented to me. Plainly stated in very fine print on the back. I hate to say this, but here is an example where ebay seller is up front and local face to face guy would cheat you if he could.
It is made of brass by The Great American Buckle Co. Made in USA. No box with it. I don't know how many were made. I don't know when it was made.
Sounds very similar to the repro watch fobs that were once a hot flea market item.
Not the definitive answer on the company, but: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/in...4061228AAE24AP
A current seller of this "brand": http://www.acornbeltbuckles.co.uk/gab.htm
I just got a PM from xmvl001 due to being unable to post on this thread. His dad had one of these buckles with a tape measure. He contacted Starrett and was told this was a promo for their 100 anniversary. I guess that is a pretty nice item. Surprised to them bring only $10 on ebay. Bad economy or poorly listed or that is all thier worth.
PM comes threw again, now I know.
I saw the same seller again, three weeks later and I was able to negotiate a price of $10. Quite a discount, but in line with recent ebay sitings.
I then found another one for sale by a Starrett employee at a different outdoor flea mkt. His price was $25, but quickly dropped to $20. He said although he was an employee he cannot find a documentation on these buckles. The story gave: is these were given to the employees. Which is not to say they were not included with some product sales, only that he was not aware of any promotion. He also told me Starrett has issued several commemorative items to celebrate various anniversary dates. All those items were dated and marked XXX anniversary. I mentioned specifically some were sold with a tape measure. He did not believe it. I suspect both that many were sold as a promo item and others were given to employees.
That is two seen in the same week and one purchased. I guess these are not a rare item. But they do look nice. Both new, no box.
That sure is a handsome belt buckle! I particularly like the way the moldmaker rendered the eagle. The "reeding" on the edge of the Star & Stripes shield is also a nice touch.
Regardless of whether they are rare or not, this is clearly a handsome item made with quality, and probably well worth $10 - $20. The $20 price in a face-to-face transaction is not out of line with an eBay cost of $10 + $5 shipping. [Just my 2 cents worth.]
There is a used and damaged one on eBay now.
VINTAGE STARRETT TOOLS METAL BELT BUCKLE - eBay (item 370425442968 end time Sep-03-10 18:11:49 PDT)
The pictures are great, and it is easy to see that the buckle is brass plated on a soft white metal, often called pewter in the generic sense.
So I suggest, if you have one in perfect condition, don't wear it and keep it in a padded box. A hundred years from now it may be valuable.
I am not sure you are right about the material. Mine has a little scratches across the face and it looks like brass under neath a brighter coating. Or could it be plated then varnish? Or varnish on solid brass? It feels heavy enough. If its not all brass, that's really sleazy IMHO. But what else is new. I am not complaining, the cost is cheap enough I guess.
I am not up to drilling mine, but I think there is some doubt about your conclusion - based on the ebay photo only.
Edit: I looked again and I see your point. Hmmm ... "Made in America" Huh.... Thank you very much.
About 40 years ago a huge number of fake (or perhaps better described as "fantasy") belt plates appeared on the market... These were billed as advertising premiums or employee awards for companies like Coca Cola, Wells Fargo, various Railroads, Western Union - really too many to list. I was offered a "Roll-Royce of America" version.
The most astonishing thing about these is that whoever was behind them actually published a book on them! It purported to be the catalog of the lifelong collection of a Mr. Frank Fish. Conveniently, Mr. Fish was found dead in 1965. His home and private museum had been looted. Everything about the book was fake... the author was unknown and the publisher (a real firm in New York) denied any knowledge of it.
Unfortunately, the authors made the mistake of miss-quoting Mr. J. Duncan Campbell, the curator responsible for early American military insignia at the Smithsonian. In 1973, Campbell published a book-length expose of the whole thing titled "New Belt Buckles of the Old West."
It is probably the strangest collecting story I've ever heard...