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Philippine Made Belt Buckles


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#1 PhilippineBuckles

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 02:08 PM

I started collecting Philippine made belt buckles in 2010 and they are the only Militaria item I am collecting.  This is my first of hopefully many posts to this forum. 

 

While I never made it to the Philippines, I am fascinated by the buckles that Philpino artisans made for US Service Men and Women.  Based on ebay sales, belt buckle engraving exploded in 1945 as the Philippines was liberated and served as the forward base as the US prepared for invasion of Japan and then for the demobilization and return to the US.  While there are some Army, Air Force, and USMC Philippine made buckles, they appear to have been mainly made for USN (and Coast Guard) personnel from 1944 to the 1970s.  Starting in the 1970s, Marines started to have (non-uniform) buckles made for themselves too.  But when the US pulled closed down its last base in the Philippines in 1992, the period of Philippine made buckles essentially ended.

 

I'm going to use this thread to share some of my buckles and hopefully learn from many of you more about your stories of having custom made buckles made for you.  If you have pictures of you wearing Philippine Buckles, please share.  I've seen some pictures of people wearing them while in uniform, but I'm always still looking for more examples.

 

What I find really interesting is that the Philippine Belt Buckle "industry" started before WWII.  Back when I first started collecting in 2010, I saw a Fort Mills buckle sell on ebay but I was outbid.  I have since then realized the rarity of these pre-WWII buckles, and have been patiently waiting for another to be listed.  Long story short, another one was finally listed and arrived in the mail today.

 

Fort Mills W. L. Mason USN.jpg  

 

I'm finally coming out of the collecting closet (although I'm still actively collecting) and am looking forward to sharing my passion with you!

 

Best Regards,

Bill 



#2 hink441

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 02:22 PM

Welcome Bill.

You have a unique collecting area, I also collect these buckles and I believe we have probably bid against each other many times on eBay. LOL😂

I look forward to seeing more of your collection.

Here is a terrible picture of some of my buckles.

Chris

image.jpeg

#3 MastersMate

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 02:23 PM

A sketch of the one I had made in Olongopo, PI.. It had a white and black cloth belt that snapped around the bail and had a brass cap at the bitter end of the belt. A standard cotton web belt would not fit through or fasten to the bail. You had to remember to buy spare belts...

 

 

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  • PI BUCKLE.JPG


#4 hink441

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 02:55 PM

Vietnam swift boat buckle with the snap on blue denim belt.

image.jpeg

#5 Salvage Sailor

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 03:14 PM

Aloha Bill,

 

We've posted quite a few PI made belt buckles on this topic.  http://www.usmilitar...thout-the-belt/

 

Thanks for starting up one solely on PI made buckles.

 

Welcome Aboard

 

Photo:  1946 USN Combat Cameraman

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  • Combat Cameraman 001.jpg
  • Combat Cameraman 002.jpg

Edited by Salvage Sailor, 15 September 2017 - 03:14 PM.
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#6 Salvage Sailor

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 03:17 PM

USN Salvage ship USS BEAUFORT (ATS-2)

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#7 Salvage Sailor

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 03:20 PM

Bolster class Salvage ship USS RECLAIMER (ARS-42)

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  • USS RECLAIMER (ARS-42) PI Belt Buckle 05.jpg


#8 MastersMate

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 05:02 PM

Slowly figuring out this new technology. Got a photo of the PI Buckle...

 

 

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  • PI Belt A.jpg


#9 hink441

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 05:23 PM

Father and Son buckles. W. F. Krantz was a SBD pilot and was shot down near Rabaul. He and his crew spent 5 months on the island evading and avoiding Japanese soldiers before they were rescued.

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#10 aznation

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 05:32 PM

Man, these are GREAT!  I love them.  Beautifully done.  Thank you for showing them.



#11 patches

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 05:38 PM

Very interesting stuff, and rare we should think.



#12 PhilippineBuckles

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Posted 16 September 2017 - 05:46 AM

@hink441 – Hi Chris!  Thanks for the welcome!  I’m glad to have finally (electronically) met you.  Yes, you are my ebay nemesis.  Joking aside, hopefully we can become friends over time.  I know you have a great collection of Philippine buckles (based solely on everything you’ve outbid me on) which your picture of 32 buckles above and all the other buckles you have posted to this site attest to.  As my initial post and my chosen forum name indicate, I have set myself a (lifetime) mission of building awareness and understanding of Philippine Buckles and sharing it with the world.  I’d love to collaborate with you along with everyone else on this forum who is interested.  Eventually this may include a dedicated website and/or reference books to permanently share and document Philippine Belt Buckles; but for the time being though, this forum is a great place for mission planning where the larger community can help educate me and participate in this project.  

 

@MastersMate – Thank you for taking a picture of your 1967 buckle and sharing it.  I had seen in the past where you posted the sketch of it in another thread.  It is great to now see the actual buckle.  Do you remember any details on where in Po City you had it made?  I have so many questions like… Were the engravers in a formal store/building or did they have a street stand?  Did they have sketch books or example buckles set out for you to choose from?  How long did it take them to make a buckle?  How much did they cost?  Then I questions like when did you choose to wear the buckle, like were these custom buckles reserved for special occasions like going out on liberty? Or were they used as an everyday buckle to wear with work uniform dungarees? Or with khakis or whites for chiefs and officers?  I know the answer will depend on each sailor as I have seen pictures of them being worn in all three types of uniforms.  I’m interested in understanding what different sailors thought about their buckles.

 

@Salvage Sailor – What a great Combat Cameraman buckle.  Thanks for sharing.  1946 was maybe the best year for artistic engraving.  The war was over and the volume of buckles being engraved was less than in 1945 which may have meant engravers had more time on their hands plus all the engraving they did in 1945 had given them a lot of experience.  Higher quality of engraving potentially would have been a way for engravers to compete against each other and win business.   Thank you for pointing out and giving the link to the Belt Buckle thread.  I had not seen this thread, I’ll need to post some of my miscellaneous non-Philippine Buckles there.

 

@hink441 – I love the PCF-24 swift boat buckle! 

 

Here is an earlier but somewhat similar U.S. Army Air Sea Rescue Boat buckle which is one of my many favorites: 1946 P441 A.A.F. Rescue for Charlie Ellis.  For those interested, here is a link to a list of over 600 WWII US Army Air Sea Rescue boats that were built  http://shipbuildingh.../armypboats.htm

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  • 1946 Charlie Ellis.jpg


#13 firefighter

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Posted 16 September 2017 - 06:58 AM

Cool stuff.Those are some great designs

#14 MastersMate

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Posted 16 September 2017 - 08:02 AM

If I recall, it was a street stall located just up Magsaysay not far from the bridge. Took an hour maybe and the craftsman sat there with the blank and started tapping away with a small mallet and chisel. He had some samples to work from.. Do not recall the price but it did not break the bank.  Wore it with the tropical white uniform and with watch standing dungarees..  Was able to wear it while attached to that cutter, When transferred the next duty station did not allow those overseas trinkets.  Wore it with civvies for a while then into the junk drawer for years.  With the nylon web belts now available I was able to heat cut the material and sew a narrow tab to the  buckle end, Now get to wear it with dungarees. It is back in  daily use.



#15 PhilippineBuckles

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Posted 16 September 2017 - 02:32 PM

@MastersMate - Thank you so much for describing having your buckle made and what uniforms you wore it with.  I'm glad that your buckle is back in daily use.  

 

I wonder if anyone ever took pictures of their buckle being made -- maybe one day one will turn up.  That would be really neat to see....



#16 hink441

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Posted 16 September 2017 - 03:02 PM

Bill,
Glad you are on the forum. I look forward to seeing more of your collection. I know I have been outbid on many a good buckle over the years. I bet we have cost each other some serious cash. LOL

I have never been to the PI either. I did have a buckle made in Pusan Korea by an old PI buckle craftsman. He made it for me on the pier and it was ready for me when I came back from Liberty. I think it cost me around $20.

Chris

#17 sigsaye

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Posted 16 September 2017 - 06:03 PM

I have 4 that I had made over the years. My first one in 1973, was for my first rate(AS) and came with a blue cloth belt. It would not fit a standard dungaree belt. I then had a Civilian buckle made, large rectangle with sailingbship and my name. It came on a wide brown leather belt. First trip to Subic after changing rate to SM, got an SM buckle made (and watch band), and another Civilian buckle with my wife's name on it for her.

#18 PhilippineBuckles

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Posted 16 September 2017 - 06:16 PM

@Hink441 -  What year did you have your buckle made in Korea?  Do you still have it?  It's interesting that a Philippine buckle craftsman set up shop in Korea. Not a bad business idea to set up shop in another port of call. 

 

Here are three custom buckles for John Ferrante who was the commanding officer of the USS Ingraham DD-694 from I believe 1962-1964.  The buckle on the left is the classic Philippines buckle style except that it is engraved along the top edge indicating it was a present from (Fr.) Luna E.  Engraving on the edges is uncommon but is seen every now and then. Another uncommon feature is a maker's mark (in this case "Cavite Engraving") on the back. 

 

I suspect that the two brass buckles on the right were not engraved in the Philippines.  While the engraved USN Officer's Eagle is similar in style to Philippines made buckles, the top right buckle has some Asian characters engraved under John Ferrante's name.  

 

john_ferrante.jpg



#19 hink441

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Posted 16 September 2017 - 06:46 PM

Actually there were two buckles made. One was a squadron buckle (VF-211) and one was a larger civilian style buckle. I lost my VF-211 buckle somewhere years ago. I still have the civilian buckle somewhere. I will try and get a picture. These were made in Pusan around 1997 during a USS Nimitz port visit.

Chris

#20 Tonomachi

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Posted 17 September 2017 - 04:24 PM

Here is my collection along with a photograph I found on the Internet with them being worn with duty uniforms.  All are Philippine made except maybe the Force Recon buckle.  I know that there is either a really good copy of the Force Recon buckle being made in Korea or it might be their version of this buckle for their own South Korean force recon soldiers as it is slightly different from this one.  

 

 

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  • Seal UDT Buckle Collection (2).JPG
  • 1ST Belts.jpg


#21 67Rally

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Posted 17 September 2017 - 04:50 PM

I have four or five that I had made. I'll dig them out and share some ohotos.

#22 easterneagle87

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Posted 17 September 2017 - 09:37 PM

What a cool mniche item to collect. Will have to keep my eyes open when I'm out hunting!



#23 PhilippineBuckles

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Posted 18 September 2017 - 05:09 AM

@hink441 - You surprised me saying that your Korean made buckle was post 1992.  That said, it definitely makes since that a skilled Philippine's belt buckle engraver would have moved to another USN port of call when the US closed down the last of its bases in the Philippines.  I look forward to you posting a picture of the Civilian buckle you had made and seeing if it looks any different than 1992 or earlier buckles.

 

@Tonomachi - Thank you for posting your collection of Seal buckles and I love the picture with Seal members wearing them in their Summer Whites is great! 

 

I don't have any SEAL Trident buckles nor UDT buckles in my collection.  I do have one "Civilian" First Class Diver oval buckle (left below) and on the right is a Master Diver buckle that sold on ebay in 2015 for Bob Driscoll and it's special in my opinion because it is the only composite Philippine's buckle using two materials (i.e. metal and the black "plastic" backdrop) that I've ever seen.

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  • Picture1.jpg

Edited by PhilippineBuckles, 18 September 2017 - 05:10 AM.


#24 PhilippineBuckles

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Posted 18 September 2017 - 07:08 AM

@Tonomachi  - I did a quick internet search and saw the following "Winning PAC Fleet 1985 SEAL Team 5 Small Command Rifle and Pistol Team" photo where LCDR RJ Thomas appears to be wearing a Philippine Belt Buckle. http://www.sealtwo.org/page17.htm

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  • ST5rifleTeam.jpg


#25 WWIIDADS

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Posted 18 September 2017 - 07:16 AM

If either of you find one that says Quartermaster Cooks and Baker's School, Manila, kindly give me first refusal. My dad was there WWII and I'd love to have one. Thanks


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