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Dear Gents,

In the past I tried to find information about the British "1914 Leather Equipment", especially about the snake clasp. So far nobody was able to help. I'm about 5 month's member of GMIC now and I noticed, in fact I'm perplexed by the knowledge of the members. I must admit I don't know a similar forum like GMIC. The way it gives information, the way the members are sharing their photographs and knowledge. Really great. Thank everyone of you.

Back to the snake clasp now. Have 5 snake clasps, and 4 are totally different. The snake buckle belt (1914 Leather Equipment) was used by the British Army. Later the Belgian army also used this type of belt for a period (more narrow; about 4 cm = 1,5 inch, the British belt is about 2 inch broad)) Maybe other armies also used this type of belt? I saw photographs of British policemen and photograph's of Belgian members of the fire brigade with a snake belt as well. So I was wondering, what are the origins of this type of waistbelt. I was told it was used since the 19th century by the British Forces and the origins are from India (?). But that's all I know. I will enclose some pics. The shape is the same, a horizontal S, but 4 of the snakes has a different engraving. Perhaps because of the different manufacturers? Is there anyone who can trow a light on this, or recommend me a good book on this topic.

With kind regards,

Jef

PS. snake 1 was found in the Ypres area. British type

([attachmentid=40784)

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[attachmentid=40786]Snake 3: Belgian type. Found in the Houthulst area( Belgian sector)

By the way, the back of snake 1 & 3 are identically of the front . The back of snake 2 and 4 are plain.

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[attachmentid=40788]snake 4: type? . Bought on a military fair. plain back

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[attachmentid=40790]

Snake 5: attached to Belgian belt. I think it's the same snake as n? 2.

There are no markings on any of the snakes.

Thank you for any help

Jef

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Hello Jef,

Those buckles are interesting, I?ve never seen Great War leather equipment close up and always thought the snake would look simpler than that. Probably because I had one on my belt when I was little and remember it being quite plain.

I found a couple of sites showing buckles, the first one is a free mason site which shows a picture of a 16th century snake buckle from Colchester http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/symbolism/apron_...s/uniforms.html and the second is a Napoleonic re-enactment site selling these buckles http://www.re-enactmentshop.com/napoleontisch.htm

If they have been in use with the British army over at the last 200 years at least, I would imagine there were many different local buckle manufacturers from wherever British soldiers were stationed.

I wonder if the Indian, Canadian, Oz, NZ, or SA troops wore the snake hook buckle too.

Tony

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"If they have been in use with the British army over at the last 200 years at least, I would imagine there were many different local buckle manufacturers from wherever British soldiers were stationed.

I wonder if the Indian, Canadian, Oz, NZ, or SA troops wore the snake hook buckle too"

Tony & Jef

The first general issue British equipment to use the snake clasp was the infamous "Slade-Wallace pattern" of 1888. It was used in South Africa (1899-1902), where it was roundly criticized by all involved and, following Horse guards practice, was then manufactured for 50 years and issued to all and sundry.

The snake clasp belts are commonly available in Canada, (and I suspect India, Australia, Bermuda...) . They were undoubtedly made by dozens of contractors over a period of decades and examples I've seen range from truly artistic bronze casting to total rubbish. They also tend to be mis-attributed ad nasuem - the Napoleonic website mentioned above being a classic example. partly, they tend to be unmarked and partly they look "neat" and people want to use them. I know of a number of War of 1812/napoleonic re-enactors who wear one "'cause we can".

I wouldn't be at all surprised to find them on the officers uniforms of various periods and nationalities back to the early 19th century - nmaybe the Romasn used them too - but as standard issue Br equipment they're essentially a 20th century item.

Peter

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The snake clasp belts are commonly available in Canada, (and I suspect India, Australia, Bermuda...) .

You see them ALL THE TIME in India.

The snake has crawled everywhere.

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Dear Bob, Ed, Michael, Peter and Tony,

Thank you for your help. It seems more complicated than I thought.

If you are using a snake in your equipment, you might think it has a symbolic or heraldic meaning. As far as I'm concerned there are no British regimental badges which displays snakes. Or am I wrong?

again, thank for any help,

Jef

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Jef

I know of one Indian Sates Forces badge with cobras on, but no Brit. or colonial ones: we don't like snakes!

(by and large, in western culture, snakes are "bad guys". Blame genesis. So, not a favourite hearldic device. Not a lot of regimental rats or beetles out there either. :P

I think the "S" shape just works well for a secure but easy to undo fastener - I wasn;t really kidding about the Romans using it - and some bright eyes said "hey, look! A snake!" and evrybody who saw one copied it!

My farthings worth! :cheeky:

peter

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I know of one Indian Sates Forces badge with cobras on, but no Brit. or colonial ones . . . .

Mysore and Travancore, which used snake in their (THEIR, not the Brit-invented) heraldry, wouldn't be caught dead wearing something like this.

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Hello Ed & Peter,

I suppose you are right it must be copied from earlier days. But why? :banger: . That's the reason why it confuses me....Almost every part, main part or additional part in a British badge can be explained and refers to the kind of unit, its origins, the person who raised it or its merits. The other parts of their uniform: collar badges and other insignia can be perfectly explained.... Only the snake clasp is copied and has no signification! :banger: It doens't make sense. But I accept you're right.

with kind regards from Flanders,

Jef

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The only commonwealth badges with snakes are the Medical Corps (R.A.M.C., R.C.A.M.C., etc.)

The caduceus staff is encircled by two snakes. But in this case the source is Greek mythology.

I can see the origins of the snake clasp as being Saxon or Viking in origin. They liked to make utilitarian objects works of art.

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The only commonwealth badges with snakes are the Medical Corps (R.A.M.C., R.C.A.M.C., etc.)

The caduceus staff is encircled by two snakes. But in this case the source is Greek mythology.

I can see the origins of the snake clasp as being Saxon or Viking in origin. They liked to make utilitarian objects works of art.

Yes, of course, Michael. The rod and serpent badge, the badge with the international medical sign, symbol of medical sience. Used by lots of armies for medical units.This badge was completely out of my mind :speechless: But I agree, don't think origins of the snake buckle are in Greek mythology.

There was a time I believed the snake was of celtic origin... Saxon, Viking...Again, we are in the dark middle ages. A hundreds of years earlier we meet the Romans like Peter suggested. Here we go again... :banger:

Thank you for your help.

Kind regards,

Jef

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Here is a pic of my Grandad early in WW1,he was in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and has on a snake belt in this photo.

Dave

[attachmentid=41689]

[attachmentid=41690]

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I have just purchased a set of the snake head buckle and clasp in silver, hallmarked 1856 Birmingham. Maker's mark looks like CRWS.

I have a recollection of having seen similar on pouch belts or cross belts of the Victorian and Georgian periods, probably worn by cavalry officers.

Martin Russell

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I have just purchased a set of the snake head buckle and clasp in silver, hallmarked 1856 Birmingham. Maker's mark looks like CRWS.

I have a recollection of having seen similar on pouch belts or cross belts of the Victorian and Georgian periods, probably worn by cavalry officers.

Martin Russell

Hello Martin,

Thank you for your interest in this topic. Birmingham was well known for its engravers, medal-, badge- and buttonmakers. In general for its copper and brass wares. Never heard these snakes also exist in silver.

Kind regards,

Jef

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Hello again Martin,

Have been looking in this website http://www.silvercollection.it/englishsilvermarksXCDUE.html and I found this:see pic.

Is this the mark CR over WS on your snake? It's a London Hallmark of 1841. CR stands for Charles Rawlings, WS for William Summers.

Graham thank you for your answer, most helpful.

Kind regards,

Jef

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Dear Gents,

In the past I tried to find information about the British "1914 Leather Equipment", especially about the snake clasp. So far nobody was able to help. I'm about 5 month's member of GMIC now and I noticed, in fact I'm perplexed by the knowledge of the members. I must admit I don't know a similar forum like GMIC. The way it gives information, the way the members are sharing their photographs and knowledge. Really great. Thank everyone of you.

Back to the snake clasp now. Have 5 snake clasps, and 4 are totally different. The snake buckle belt (1914 Leather Equipment) was used by the British Army. Later the Belgian army also used this type of belt for a period (more narrow; about 4 cm = 1,5 inch, the British belt is about 2 inch broad)) Maybe other armies also used this type of belt? I saw photographs of British policemen and photograph's of Belgian members of the fire brigade with a snake belt as well. So I was wondering, what are the origins of this type of waistbelt. I was told it was used since the 19th century by the British Forces and the origins are from India (?). But that's all I know. I will enclose some pics. The shape is the same, a horizontal S, but 4 of the snakes has a different engraving. Perhaps because of the different manufacturers? Is there anyone who can trow a light on this, or recommend me a good book on this topic.

With kind regards,

Jef

PS. snake 1 was found in the Ypres area. British type

([attachmentid=40784)

Hello Jeff,

Just found your post and this forum. Your first snake is the style that is most popular on Canadian snake buckled belts of the Oliver pattern, as another member wrote, used by Canadian troops during the Boer War and later belts worn by Canadian units in WW1. This style was also used during the American Civil War, but it was a less common pattern. Most of the this pattern buckle offered as American Civil War are really the post Civil War pieces of Canadian origin. I refer to this variety as the tri-foliate variety - notice the three fingers or digits that extend from the center band. The keepers on this style snake sometimes have extended rather than overlapping connector loops. Let me explain that there are two parts to each keeper - the loop through which the belt loops and the horizontally mounted ring through which the snake links. This ring normally overlaps the vertical belt loop on most keepers, but many of the Canadian buckles feature an extended ring that is attached to the side of the belt loop rather than directly overlapping it. I hope this makes sense. Then again, your examples also include bent ring keepers with and without sliders to cover the unbraised ends - as for as brass wire keepers, but iron and steel keepers are also used and many are gilded or silver washed or plated with nickel, tin and later chromed. Luckily, the keepers are not as complex a subtopic as the snake patterns!

Snake buckles were used by and in most of the former British Colonies - as in America, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, and New Zealand. Their use extends in an almost unbroken series back to Tudor period - on sword belts, as seen in period paintings. A few styles extend over generations of users, but differences are recognizable to distinguish individual makers, but identifying makers would be a near impossible task through time. I am not aware of much extensive literature on snake buckles, but I have amassed 215 examples and a few score of images of soldiers and others sporting snake buckles - for a book. Probably a series of books, starting with an introductory text.

Your last snake looks more like the type of pattern used by freemasons to fasten their aprons - an extremely specialized branch of snake buckle use that was largely secretive until recently. The Masonic snakes are usually smaller and mounted on smaller and thinner wire keepers than those employed by the military.

British police have also utilized snakes as well as Hong Kong police, Royal Canadian and their predecessors the Northwest Mounted police of Canada. Australian and New Zealand police also have used snake buckles in the past. The RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) and the earlier RIC force used snake buckles up into the 1970s.

There is another whole major branch of snake buckles that use what I term plate keepers rather than wire keepers. The most familiar example is the lions head keepers used by Cavalry units. The French have extended the use of many different plate types including medusa heads and various symbols, such as horns, stars, quarter moons, etc. The French use extends from the Napoleonic period to at least pre-WWII.

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Dear Gents,

In the past I tried to find information about the British "1914 Leather Equipment", especially about the snake clasp. So far nobody was able to help. I'm about 5 month's member of GMIC now and I noticed, in fact I'm perplexed by the knowledge of the members. I must admit I don't know a similar forum like GMIC. The way it gives information, the way the members are sharing their photographs and knowledge. Really great. Thank everyone of you.

Back to the snake clasp now. Have 5 snake clasps, and 4 are totally different. The snake buckle belt (1914 Leather Equipment) was used by the British Army. Later the Belgian army also used this type of belt for a period (more narrow; about 4 cm = 1,5 inch, the British belt is about 2 inch broad)) Maybe other armies also used this type of belt? I saw photographs of British policemen and photograph's of Belgian members of the fire brigade with a snake belt as well. So I was wondering, what are the origins of this type of waistbelt. I was told it was used since the 19th century by the British Forces and the origins are from India (?). But that's all I know. I will enclose some pics. The shape is the same, a horizontal S, but 4 of the snakes has a different engraving. Perhaps because of the different manufacturers? Is there anyone who can trow a light on this, or recommend me a good book on this topic.

With kind regards,

Jef

PS. snake 1 was found in the Ypres area. British type

([attachmentid=40784)

Sorry about that Jef,

I'm off to a great start misspelling you name.

Dave

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