How to Identify a Vintage Belt Buckle

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Buying a vintage belt buckle can be costly, so it’s important to know if the buckle being purchased is legitimate or a knockoff. If you're selling a belt buckle, you'll want to know how much it's really worth.

Research the belt buckle before pawning, selling or buying. Search online for information about the buckle's maker and material of which it's made. Type in key details about the belt. For example, search "vintage cowboy buckle brass."

Test the material to find out whether its real. Many vintage buckles are made of brass, gold or silver. There are a variety of ways to test the properties of the material right from home. Test brass with a refrigerator magnet; solid brass is not magnetic. If a magnet sticks to the brass buckle, it is only brass plated and likely made of steel or cast iron. Also keep an eye out for scratches. The color of the scratch can determine the material. Solid brass will scratch yellow.

Take the belt buckle to a vendor to get more information about when it was crafted. Some vintage western belt designers include Edward H. Bohlin, Clint Orms and Cactus Trails. Belt vendors across the United States are familiar with designers and the material the designers would have used. Historical silversmiths worked with quality materials, and their buckles come at a high price.

Check out the value of buckles with a similar design or have the buckle appraised. Professional appraisers often post information online in forums and blogs. Visit websites to see the value of buckles with a style similar to the one in question. The websites may lead to more clues about the validity of the belt buckle and clue the owner in as to when and where it was crafted.