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Gentleman's Military Interest Club
Monique

Stable Belt Designs and snake belt buckles

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Good afternoon Gentlemen,

I'm an archaeologist from Sydney. I have a few possibly military artefacts that have been excavated from The Rocks. The site of first European settlement in Australia, for the convicts at least.

I have what could be a stable belt buckle, but I'm very unsure.

Did any British or indeed other army, use a squirrel as an emblem?

I'm also trying to find out which regiments used an s shaped belt buckle in the design of a snake. I have a few of these and they aren't all the same.

The artefacts are being restored for an exhibition on Colonial Military and WW1 soldiers from The Rocks and Millers Point area, which will be held in the Rocks Discovery Museum from Sept 2016 until Feb 2017.

I realise photographs will help and I will endeavour to post them next week when I can source them from the restorer. The photographs of the unrestored artefacts don't show much detail, they've been buried for more than 100 years, so I know for sure they aren't from WW1 or afterwards.

I look forward to your wisdom.

Regards

Monique

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Hi Monique

The squirrel doesn't ring any bells but some of the heraldic renderings of 'regimental anuimals' are pretty outre.

The British Army issued a leather belt which was worn from, off the top of my head, the 1840s until the 1920s at least.  It was adopted by most of the Imperial armies as well, including the Australian forces, and was worn commonly by almost all units - infantry, engineers, etc.  The variation in design would be a reflection of the length of time during which these were issued and number of manufacturers involved, even with supposedly 'sealed patterns' to ensure uniformity.  below is an example of an 1860s era snake buckle.

I hope that helps a little.  Photographs eagerly awaited.

Peter

org snake buckle.jpg

Edited by peter monahan

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Thanks Peter Monahan.

I'll post photographs as soon as I can.

Now I can go looking for an Australian manufacturer, and annoy the Army museum again.

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Dear Gentlemen,

This is one of the artefacts that could be a stable belt design.

Any ideas?

Regards

Monique

img073 small.jpg

img071 small.jpg

img081 small snake.jpg

I think this may be an infantry bugle or horn. The oriental characters on the rear of the 'scroll?' are a bit confusing though.

img080small inf.jpg

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The snake - photo three in Post 4 xcouls easily be from a military 'snake buckle', though the details are a bit different from examples I know.  The rectangular buckle in post 5 is part of a sword belt - two buckles like this each take a strap run through the rings on a scabbard and the straps attached to the sword belt itself.  If it is rotated 180 degrees the designs on the heads might conceivably be lion's heads, which was the standard design for these.  [The French buckle from which it was 'borrowed' by the English had a Medusa face.]

I wonder at the initials  - 'O S' ? - on the bugle horn.  Not ringing any bells for an Imperial unit and the characters on the back ar quite unusual.  Civilian fashion copying military styles was quite common, so that's a possible explanation.  Or many others which haven't occurred to me!  ;)

Good luck with the hunt.

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Thank you Peter Monahan, you are correct about the sword belt, and thanks for the suggestion about a civilian copy, I hadn't considered that.

The last photo is from a sword belt, it was originally gilded, there are a few tiny patches left and it is a lion on each end.

Am I right in assuming that the sword belt buckle would have only been used by an Officer? Not an NCO or OR? I hope that if that assumption is correct I may have a very slight chance of identifying the owner. I don't think the Australian Army used them, but the Colonial Regiments may have.  It was excavated from a lower socio economic area which was described as a slum and we have fairly good records of the occupation of many of the buildings, so an Officer may stand out.

 

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I've done a little more research on where the Snake Clasp was found.

It came from a deposit which dated to 1838-1851. It was found in the underfloor deposit in the rear room of an extremely small tenement. The house was tiny, probably only two rooms. There was a police constable living there in 1845, unfortunately we don't have occupation records before that date, so he may have been there since when the house was built in 1833.

As far as I can ascertain, the context dates are too early for any Colonial Military units to have used the clasp, but until 1870, British Garrison Troops were here, and until 1848, their barracks were less than half a km away.

I've found that British Police also used them, but so far I've only found them on Inspector or higher uniforms.

It's interesting that this example has a head and a tail, and the tail is slightly smaller and looks a little like it may have a rattle, like a rattle snake. So far I haven't found any examples like it.

Any advice from this wondrous store of knowledge would be very gratefully received

Cheers

Mon

 

img081 small snake.jpg

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The bugle was often used as a badge for Light Infantry or Rifle regiments.  Hard to identify from this scrap.  

 

H

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Thanks Hugh, I'm starting to suspect it wasn't from a uniform. The Chinese (?) characters don't seem to fit that purpose. It may have just been a pendant or something decorative.

The snake clasp is different to any other I've been able to find online. It's possible that it's from a very early police uniform, before the NSW Police were formed in 1862. It was deposited between the 1830s and the 1850s and a constable lived in the house for a short time in the 1840s.

 

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