V199: Georgian Man Candy

Oh, I know you’re disappointed this post isn’t about sexy, be-wigged gentlemen on the 18th century.  It’s about the kind of bling a man would have worn on his shoes (shoes, of course!)

Or rather, bling a man *did* wear on his shoes.

I snagged another epic Georgian shoe buckle on eBay, a gorgeous steel and paste stone piece I thought would be splendid to use as a prototype for a new rhinestone buckle in le shoppe.

When it arrive, I was really surprised at how friggin’ HUGE it was!  Oh sure, it fits the American Duchess shoes, but the thing is MASSIVE!

That’s because this was a man’s buckle of the first half of the 18th century.  How can you tell?  Men’s buckles, as we see, are large, and rather flat.  Whereas the curve over the top of the foot for a ladies’, or gentleman of small foot, is rather pronounced, for a large man’s buckle, the top of the foot is much broader, and thus the curve far less pronounced.

Buckles came into fashion in the 17th century, and like everything else during this ostentatious period, were meant to make a big statement.  We start to see buckles shrink in size (though remain just as blingy in design) in the second half of the 18th century, as tastes moved away from the over-the-top Rococo, to a more Classical aesthetic.  Edit: Sharon noted in the comments below that men’s buckles get quite large again near the end of the 18th century, and it does appear so when searching the Met and V&A examples.  So these could be early, they could be late – any ideas on other means of dating them?

The antique on th left, and Fleur buckles from le shoppe on the right.  What a difference!

So…this thing is so big, as is, it won’t suit for our ladies’ shoes, but perhaps a ladies’ version is in the future.  The design is quite simple and charming.  For now, into the collection this one goes. 🙂


  • Missy Hayes

    July 17, 2012 at 10:35 PM

    Amazing find! I actually rather like the large buckle. It's so bold! Bonus: It might make my crazy long, skinny foot look smaller! 🙂

  • Anonymous

    July 18, 2012 at 12:56 AM

    Wow, that is a huge buckle, especially considering how much smaller men were back then. Dick Turpin's wanted poster describes him as "a tall man, about 5' 9"." That gives you a good idea of how small people were in the early 18th century and how big the buckles must have been on their shoes. And I thought the painting were exaggerating.

    It is a beautiful buckle and I second what Robin said, if you made mens 18th century shoes I would wear them for everyday! They are just as gorgeous as the women's shoes but with a more practical heel.

  • Sharon

    July 18, 2012 at 1:32 AM

    Men's shoe buckles grow *larger* toward the end of the 18th c. With all the pastes being round in shape, your buckle is probably very late 18c or possibly early 19c. Handsome buckle, it definitely shows the neo-classic influence.

    • Lauren Stowell

      July 18, 2012 at 2:16 AM

      Sharon, would you mind sharing your reference? I'd really like to learn more about these. In looking at the Met and V&A examples there are lots of big buckles for late 18th c. as well as early, although the paste stones vary in shape all the way through, even into the 19th c. I wonder if there is a way I could get a better date on them…

    • Sharon

      July 18, 2012 at 2:28 AM

      I wish I could give you a single reference, but I don't have one. I've been looking at original buckles for about 20 years, and collecting for about ten years. Are the paste stones uniform in size and shape? Round and uniform pastes suggests a later date.
      Yet another way to date them is by the chape. A photo of that might help us out here.

    • Lauren Stowell

      July 19, 2012 at 1:43 AM

      The chape is square in shape, rather thing with small spikes. The paste stones are two different sizes, the larger and smaller being fairly uniform with each other.


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