Thursday, March 1, 2012

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V61: Favorite 18th Century Shoe Buckles

If you own pair of latchet shoes, eventually you will own a pair of shoe buckles to close them.  Shoe buckles were the standard way of fastening one's footwear in the 18th century, despite tie shoes and slip-on shoes having been around for hundreds of years before.  Why?  Bling.
The Met: Shoe Buckles, late 18th c., metal/paste, British.
The upper classes adorned their shoes with bejeweled buckles made with precious stones.  If you couldn't afford precious stones, paste stones (we call them rhinestones today) were available, and if you couldn't afford glass, wrought silver, gold, and brass could you have, and if you couldn't even afford wrought buckles, you could have simple round or square metal buckles.....but wherever you were in life, buckles were on your shoes.

Here are some of my favorite buckles from the 18th century.  I have a taste for glitz, so my selection here is biased:


The Met: Shoe Buckles, late 18th c. paste/metal, British.
Lady's Shoe Buckle. Silver, steel, rhinestones. France. 1768-1774
Sterling pair, ornate curvaceous frame, 1.5" x 2.5", (1 buckle w/ higher curve & 1 broken prong) very good. MCNY
Red paste stones set in arched oval pinchbeck mount, single row of stones, 2 bows on each buckle, 1.75" x 2", (3 stones missing from 1 bow) excellent. MCNY
V&A Shoe buckle Place of origin: Europe (made) Date: ca. 1770 (made)
V&A; shoe buckle c.1780


There are literally hundreds of shoe buckles of various types held in collections such as the V&A and The Met, both great sources of inspiration for your costumes.  There are a handful of reproductions on the market, some wrought, some simple, some glittery, and once you pierce those holes into your latchets, you'll never want to go back.  Repro buckles are such a cool way to add just that little bit of extra authenticity to your ensemble.

More 18th century buckles and shoes can be seen on my Shoes - 18th Century Pinterest board, and 18th century latchet shoes and paste stone reproduction buckles are to be had in my shop.
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19 comments:

  1. ooooh gorgeous. So when can we expect your buckle repro section to start expanding? That crazy awesome V&A - 1770 one is so pretty.

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    1. You can expect that very soon :-) There have been many a request lately for silver buckles without stones

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  2. Ooh, the crazy 1770 ones with the flowers and bows are such fun. Frilly fun, but fun.

    Natalie

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  3. have you considered selling plain buckles for self-embellishment, like you did with the shoe clips? i make my own broaches and tiaras by soldering settings and filigrees onto blank bases, i imagine you could do much the same thing with the buckles!

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    1. Ooo, that is something to consider. I suppose a blank frame could be used to add decoration to, yeah?

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  4. Swoon! I love the bows on the last pair!

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  5. I love that crazy 1770s ones! Looking forward to seeing more buckles! :-)

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  6. I have to admit, the very jewelled, colourful ones are calling to me.

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  7. Wow I'll take the 1770s V&A one any day of the week. Your crazy and frilly is my heaven.

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    1. That one is quite fun - I'd be afraid of snapping or bending parts of it off, lol. Or stabbing myself, hahaha.

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  8. Ooh, I so want the Flora buckles! Or those blue ones. Or the crazy V&A ones. That first bow one wasn't from the 18th c, though, was it? It looks so modern.

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    1. It looks modern, but is from the 1760s!

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  9. Hi Lauren,

    you are right, the buckle with the blue stones isn't a shoebuckle, it is deffinietely a kneebuckle (for breeches) they have this type of chapes to secure them in the buttonhole on the kneeband.

    I wonder with what suit it would have been worn...

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  10. I have looked at this post like 5 times now...Lauren, you are way too good at derailing my productivity :(

    Sometimes I dislike living in this century where, as far as I know, nothing like these buckles are being made anywhere in the world for general consumption. And then I remember my odds of being born into the aristocracy/upper class, had I lived back then, are pretty much zero and I couldn't have afforded these anyway. Life is just not fair.

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    1. Annabelle, I know just what you mean - I'd be a thatcher's daughter. Yay. I'm a thatcher's daughter now, actually, lol.

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  11. The 1770s v&a buckles are AMAZING!!!!! Oh my gosh I am in love!

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