18th Century Knee Buckle from Willowbrook


This is an 18th century knee buckle found at Willowbrook.

Knee buckles were used to hold the breeches in place below or above the knee and to hold up the stockings. Knee buckles are generally much smaller than shoe buckles and are not convexly curved the way shoe buckles usually are. On knee buckles, the pin is between the short sides of the frame so the buckle can be oriented vertically. Knee buckles are often square or oval in shape. They are usually not as elaborately decorated as shoe buckles often are, although knee buckles and shoe buckles were occasionally made in matching sets.

See http://www.daacs.org/wp-content/uploads/buckles.pdf

Metal buckles were largely produced in England and exported to America to be sold, although a small number of buckles were made by local silversmiths and clockmakers. Buckle frames were made most commonly of copper alloys, tin, and gilded brass; however, they were also produced in silver, gold, iron, blued steel, Sheffield plate, pinchbeck (a form of brass resembling gold), and close-plated iron (silver foil plated), as well as being embellished with wood, glass accents, gems, and ceramic inlays. They could be found in a wide range of shapes and sizes, in an almost limitless range of designs and decorations. Buckles were worn by men, women, and children to secure knee breeches, girdles, spurs, boots/garters, hats, sword belts, stocks (a man’s neck cloth), and most commonly, shoes…..

Buckles are commonly found on archaeological sites from the 18th century because they were so widely used by all ranks of society. In addition to being a way to hold together clothing and shoes, buckles were considered to make an important fashion statement. Social status can be noted in the type of material and extent of decoration on buckles, with more expensive metals and ornate decorations being attributed to the wealthy. Portraits of the time period, which could normally only be commissioned by the rich, show large and ornate buckles on the shoes, knee buckles holding the breeches to silk stockings, and luxurious textiles decorated with expensive buttons.


Here are a bunch of similar examples from a reproduction clothing website – a great resource:

Buckles – for breeches, shoes, stock – Wm. Booth, Draperhttps://www.wmboothdraper.com › Buckles › buckles_main

In the Scavengeology Museum collection.  Not for sale.


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