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Facinating history and terminology of belt buckles

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HISTORY OF BELT BUCKLES

Today’s belt buckle has evolved over a period of two thousand years from the primitive but functional buckles developed in ancient Rome and China. A thousand years or so earlier, antler or bone buckles and looped belts were in use by tribes of Hunter/Gatherers-our ancesters from long ago.

SQUARE D BUCKLES

The early Roman buckles were D and square shaped and pounded out of wrought iron by a blacksmith (basically the same buckle making process used on the Texas Frontier). A few centuries later, hand made iron buckles were replaced by cast bronze buckles and only the tongue was iron. By the forth and fifth century, buckles were in widespread use throughout Europe. By the 13th century, oval and D buckles were being molded in large quantities and its use going from decorative to highly utilitarian.

EARLY AMERICAN BUCKLES

By the Civil War era, military buckles made an appearance that had a major influence on the look of belt buckles to come. By the 1880’s Navajo silversmiths began to make silver and turquoise buckles and by the early 1900’s, cowboys were sporting western style buckles. In addition to the Western and Indian buckles, rodeo buckles soon ushered in a new look in belt buckles.

However,very few cowboy buckles existed before 1900 since most cowboys used suspenders or had buckles made from military friction buckles. As silent and later talking western movies danced across the screen, the Western buckle took hold.

From the first half of the 20th century there were no more than a dozen major buckle manufacturers including: Don Ellis, Michael Srour, Al Pecetti, William Nelson, John McCabe, Les Garica, Edward H. Bohlin, and Robert Schaezlein. Today there are an equal number of custom buckle makers but these older ones are the most prized for collections.

Buckles featuring flags are extremely popular, providing an opportunity to display a sense of patriotism for America. The flags are often accompanied by text such as “American by birth, southern by the grace of God”, at once conveying the wearer’s allegiance to his faith, and geographical location. Another has the American flag with text above that reads, “United we stand”. A common text is God bless America.

Most U.S. buckles are made of silver,brass, or pewter and feature a flag, longhorn, eagle, horse, wildlife critter, popular saying, or a special person or place. Color is sometimes added using enamel and outlined by metal paint outlined in pewter. The Eagle, America's national bird, appears on belt buckles and is one of manufacturers’ biggest sellers. Like the flag theme, it signifies patriotism for America and American society, namely independence, freedom, pride and strength. As with the flag buckles, it is quite casual and therefore would not generally be worn if the intended look were elegance. Instead the eagle is often worn as a quotidian belt buckle.

Sometimes only the eagle’s head is featured, much like a portrait, whilst at other times it is in flight across the buckle, its wings outstretched as if preparing to land. If the eagle is in flight, the background may contain semi-precious stones or a coloured enamel in order to highlight the bird’s shape.

BUCKLE SETS

Buckle sets are normally three pieces: one a buckle, another the tip of the belt and the third is a piece that holds the end of the belt. They are almost always in silver or gold and are heavily engraved. Sometimes they come in four pieces with two identical sections helping to hold the buckle in place. Buckle sets are generally more of a dress-up buckle than day-to-day working buckles, and are highly prized.

BUCKLE MATERIALS

Belt buckles come in a range of different materials including: pewter, silver, sterling silver, brass, bronze, Comstock silver (nickel overlaid with sterling silver), copper, and carved antler or bone. Buckles can also be ‘mixed’, for example many buckle belts are made of a cheaper material, such as pewter, but may be lined with gold or edged with silver. More unusually, belt buckles and bolos are carved from various animals’ antlers. German silver is commonly used on higher-cost buckles.

INDIAN CRAFTED BELT BUCKLES

Native American belt buckles have been in existence since silver smithing was introduced to the Navajo Indian Atsidi Saani who learned about blacksmithing at Ft. Defiance, Arizona in the 1850’s.

The Navajo Indians later introduced the art to the Zuni Indians approximately 125 years ago. After returning to their lands in 1868 following their 4 year internment, the Navajos began to adapt and learn how to silversmith among themselves. In the 1880- 1900 timeframe, they gradually obtained the tools and sources of silver from various traders and the Fred Harvey Company. From these crude beginnings, the art of making Indian jewelry slowly evolved to the highly polished silver pieces found in today’s market. Today Indian jewelry is recognized worldwide as a dynamic and exquisite artform indigenous to the culture and heritage of the Indian tribes in the Southwestern United States.

Each of the distinctive, Hopi, Zuni and Navajo silversmiths have a style unique to themselves. The Hopi Indians produce an overlay style; they cut a design out of a flat piece of silver, joining that piece to another piece and then oxidizing the inside of the first piece in a base relief pattern.

Traditional or the more familiar Navajo Indian jewelry consists of various types of blue or green turquoise set in an intricate handcrafted silver piece of artwork; squash blossom necklaces, concha belts and beaded strand or stone fetish necklaces are popular examples of this traditional style handcrafted Indian jewelry. On the other hand, traditional Zuni type of jewelry emphasizes the use of stones and shell held together within the sterling silver design. Zuni artists are renowned for their channel inlay patterns of multi-colored stones and shell meticulously crafted and united together in aesthic color patterns.

The traditional turquoise used in Indian jewelry comes in several different shades of blue and green from several different sources. These sources include Blue Verde turquoise from the Old Vega Mine in Nevada, Lone Mountain turquoise from Tonopah, Nevada, Sleeping Beauty and Morenci (sky blue color) turquoise from the copper mines in Arizona, Persian turquoise from Iran (this is the standard by which other turquoise is compared with), and the richly veined greenish Chinese turquoise from China and Tibet.

The contemporary inlayed silver jewelry, popularized by the "Santa Fe style" sold in the art galleries and shops in Santa Fe and Taos, originated with the Navajo and Zuni Indian silversmiths from the Four Corners region of New Mexico and Arizona. This contemporary inlayed jewelry consists of a pattern of different colored stones or shells usually separated by a strip of silver bezel laid in a handcrafted piece of silver jewelry. Each individual stone or shell is painstakingly hand cut, press fitted together, sanded level and then polished to form a seamless mosaic of color. In addition to the different types of turquoise, contemporary style inlayers use blue lapis lazuli from Afghanistan, purple sugilite from South Africa, green malachite from African, black jet from Utah, pink, red and orange coral from the Mediterranean, green snail shell from the Philippines and various other seashells including mother of pearl, spiny oyster, pink shell, white shell, melon shell, and red abalone from the Gulf of Mexico and Pacific Ocean. Contemporary jewely reflects the efforts of the Indian silversmith/lapidarian to express an artistic aspiration of his culture and heritage to the world in terms of its beauty, richness, meticulous workmanship and charm.

The Navajo believe that a piece of Turquoise is actually a piece of the sky that has fallen to Earth, and therefore that it connects the earth to the sky. It is also one of the most important holy stones in their belief system for protection of the body and soul. Sterling silver handcrafted belt buckles are typically detailed and unique in design.

BELT BUCKLE TERMINOLOGY

Bra

ss - A yellowish alloy of copper and zinc, sometimes including small amounts of other metals, but usually 67 percent copper and 33 percent zinc. Bronze - 85% copper and 15% zinc, has a dark gold like look.

Buckle Set - Normally three pieces: one a buckle, another the tip of the belt and the third is a piece that holds the end of the belt. Almost always in silver or gold with lots of engraving.

Cast - To form (liquid metal, for example) into a particular shape by pouring into a mold. Pewter as an example is often made using a rubber mold process where tin plus alloys are poured into the mold and centrifically spun.

Coined - Process where the image of the buckle is physically stamped or pressed into a base material (often jeweler's bronze or brass)

Comstock Silver - The manufacturer's name for Bimet or Sterling overlay. A sheet of sterling silver bonded to a sheet of 18% nickel silver. Not an electroplate.

Copper - A ductile, malleable, reddish-brown metallic element that either pure or in alloys such as brass and bronze.

Engrave - To carve, cut, or etch into a block or surface.

Flopper - Term I learned from buckle expert Robert Brandes that indicates instead of a post soldered onto the buckle back there is a moveable, usually half moon shaped, piece of metal that is hinged on both sides, fastened to a second keeper and has the post soldered onto it facing the back of the buckle. This is often found on older buckles made in the western United States.

Friction Buckle - The belt is pulled behind and through the back of the buckle where part of the buckle "sticks" into the belt and holds it in place. Commonly used in military buckles.

German Silver - A white nickel alloy (65% copper, 17% zinc, & 18% nickel). Silver is a color description and doesn't imply content of the metal (in other words - there is no silver in German silver). Normally a darker surface look than sterling silver.

Gold - A soft, yellow, corrosion-resistant element, the most malleable and ductile metal, occurring in veins and alluvial deposits and recovered by mining or by panning or sluicing. Gold is generally alloyed to increase strength although it has a wonderful appearance.

Gold Electroplate - A thin layer of gold is electroplated (electrically bonded to the surface) for a rich and lustrous finish.

Gold Fill - The buckle maker uses a metal plate with gold 10-20% of the thickness on top, normally at least 10 karat gold, usually bronze underneath that. The gold layer must be at least 1/20th by weight of the total combined gold and metal to be classified as gold filled. A marking of 1/10th by weight is higher in gold content. Intricate deep carving requires the deeper depth, lots of times on older buckles the 10% fill wears off through use and you can see spots where the bronze or other materials shows through.

Gold Overlay - See Gold Fill and Rolled Gold Plate.

Gold Plate - See Gold Fill and Rolled Gold Plate.

Handcrafted - A crafted buckle skillfully constructed by hand rather than by machine.

Handmade - A crafted buckle constructed entirely by hand, not by machine.

Hinge - Sometimes the loop is secured to the buckle by putting it in two curved half round wires that secure the belt buckle loop to the back of the belt buckle. This allows the loop to move making for a flatter fit for the buckle.

Jewelers Bronze - A copper-zinc alloy of good color.

Keeper - On back of the buckle the part that is a metal "loop". You put the belt through this part and double the belt back, snapping it to hold the buckle in place. Normally buckles have the keeper on the side towards your left hand as you are wearing the buckle, but sometimes the keeper is on the right side - more of a tradition for women's belts.

Loop - The rectangular wire shaped piece secured to the back of the buckle which is used to anchor or secure one end of the belt.

Nickel Silver - Similiar to german silver, contains no silver.

Pewter - Any of numerous silver-gray alloys of tin with various amounts of antimony, copper, and sometimes lead. At least 51% must be tin but good manufacturers often use up to 90% or more. It is valued because it will not tarnish, rust or deterioriate in any way.

Plaquet Buckle - A flat surface trophy buckle. The term was first used by Ed Bohlin in the 50-60s to refer to his #466 buckle style.

Post - The small "finger" that sticks out from the back of the buckle that goes into a punched hole in the belt, resulting in a belt size that is appropriate for you.

Ranger Set - Normally three pieces: one a buckle, another the tip of the belt and the third is a piece that holds the end of the belt. Almost always in silver or gold with lots of engraving.

Ribbon - Rectangular shapes, generally across the top and bottom of buckles, which permit engraving of information such as event titles, awards titles, recipients names, etc.

Rolled Gold Plate - A layer of at least 10 karat gold, or finer, is bonded mechanically to one or more surfaces of a supporting metal. The bonded material is then drawn or rolled to a specific thickness. The karat gold layer may be less than 1/20th by weight and must be disclosed (1/30, 1/40). A proper marking for a rolled gold plate item is 1/30 14 Karat Rolled Gold Plate.

Rope - Edging around the outside edge of the buckle that is twisted to look like a braided rope.

Silver - Lustrous white, ductile, malleable metallic element, occurring both uncombined and in ores such as argentite, having the highest thermal and electrical conductivity of the metals. It is highly valued for jewelry.

S/S - A symbol for sterling silver.

Silver Plate - A coating or plating of silver.

Stamped - Process where the image of the buckle is physically stamped or pressed into a base material (often jeweler's bronze or brass)

Sterling Silver - A silver alloy consisting of 92.5% fine silver and 7.5% pure copper. Has a bright surface. By adding copper it causes the silver to become less pliable and stronger in its structure which improves both strength and durability.

Tongue - The small "tooth" projection that is soldered to the back of the buckleand utilized to fit into the holes in a leather belt, securing it to the buckle.

Trophy Buckle - Buckles that were made for a specific event such as a rodeo or cutting or other horse/cow event. They usually have the event name and year, maybe the individual event title and/or the winner's name. The more detail the more valuable.

MORE ABOUT STERLING SILVER

Silver that has been work-hardened, either by rolling or forging, gradually recrystallizes, even at room temperature softing the metal and making it susceptible to scratching

and marring. To maintain hardness, other metals are added to silver to form alloys that are harder, stronger, and less prone to fatigue.

The best-known copper-silver alloy is sterling, which is 92.5 percent silver and 7.5 percent copper. (In England sterling silver is traditionally identified by the hallmark of a lion passant.) Coin silver is an alloy of 90 percent silver and 10 percent copper. For jewelry and ornaments, 85-90 percent silver (and the balance copper) is frequently used. Dental alloys of 60-70 percent silver, 18-25 percent tin, 2-14 percent copper, and 0.5-2 percent zinc are amalgamated with varying quantities of mercury to form the filling materials for cavities in teeth.

Silver and alloys of silver and copper, although stable in air, tarnish in the presence of sulfur. In order to improve tarnish resistance, up to 40 percent palladium is added.

HISTORY OF THE HESSTON BELT BUCKLE

The Hesston buckle was developed by a farming implement manufacturer called the Hesston Company out of Hesston, Kansas (and later bought out by AGCO, a German based company named AGCO Corporation founded on June 20, 1990 with its headquarters just outside Atlanta, Georgia. AGCO bought out the Hesston Company of Hesston, Kansas but retained its brandname identity).

Hesston has been a leading manufacturer of North American hay tools since 1955 and belt buckles since 1974.The town of Hesston where the Hesston Company was founded dates back to 1886, when the Missouri Pacific railroad was building westward. The town had two names before the people settled on Hess Town, named for two brothers who were landowners where the town was later built. For many years Hesston was a small agricultural town of Mennonite farmers. These people valued higher education, so in 1909 the Mennonite Church founded Hesston College.

The First Hesston Buckle (1974)

The Hesston Company commissioned their first buckle in 1974 which was mostly given away to employees, good customers, and relatives of employees. This was a plain brass buckle with Hesston written boldly across the front and no association with the rodeo. Fewer than 15,000 buckles were made that year by Ruebrow Manufacturing, Brooklyn, NY and Hesston had some of these buckle on hand for years to come (turned out to be difficult to distribute). That plain 74 Hesston buckle today is today valued at over a thousand dollars by the serious buckle collectors across the nation!

The 1974 "rookie" Hesston buckle was a relatively plain buckle with Hesston written boldly across the buckle and had no association with the rodeo as most other Hesston buckles later did. Fewer than 15,000 buckles were made in 1974 by Ruebrow Manufacturing, Brooklyn, NY and Hesston had some of these buckle on hand for years to come (turned out to be difficult to distribute). That plain 74 Hesston buckle today is today valued at over a thousand dollars by the serious buckle collectors across the nation!

Because of the high value placed on the 1974 Hesston buckle by buckle collectors, at least two imitation buckles were released in the 1980's (one is stamped Taiwan and is easy to spot. The second is a pretty decent replica of the Hesston version but the back looks different if you know what you're looking for.

In 1975, Hesston decided to issue a second buckle, this one designed by Limited Edition Designer, Bill Manley (who also designed the Hesston Buckle until 1985). Approximately 75,000 of the Limited Edition 1975 Hesston buckles which were approved by the PRC Rodeo Association was produced by Lewis Buckle Co. of Chicago. This is the Second limited Collector's Buckle, 2nd cowboy classic rodeo edition. The buckle is stamped on the back "Commemorating the 2nd annual network telecast Decembere 13, 1975 from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Sponsored exclusively by Hesston Corporation and participating Hesston Farm Equipment Dealers". The front has "1975 National Finals Rodeo" and Hesston in large letters, plus a chute dogging event. 3 1/8" x 2 3/8" for up to a 1 3/4" belt. Brass color, rectangular shape. This was one of the earliest buckles and is smaller and has a different look than later ones. Designed by Bill Manley and manufactured at Lewis Buckle Co. of Chicago.

The 1976 Hesston buckle was designed by Bill Manley and manufactured at the A&E Die Casting, Gardenia, California. This is the Third limited Collector's Buckle, 2nd cowboy classic rodeo edition. The buckle is stamped on the back "Commemorating the 3rd annual network telecast in 1976 from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Sponsored exclusively by Hesston Corporation and participating Hesston Farm Equipment Dealers". The front has "1976 National Finals Rodeo" and Hesston in large letters, plus a cowboy saddle bronc rider and horse. 3 1/8" x 2 3/8" for up to a 1 3/4" belt. Brass color, rectangular shape. Approximately 125,000 of the Limited Edition 1976 Hesston buckles were manufactured by A&E Die Casting, Gardenia, CA.

The 1977 Hesston buckle was the first of the oval-shaped Hesston buckle designs. The 1977 Hesston buckle was designed by Bill Manley and manufactured at Cast Products, Chicago, IL. Approximately 150,000 of the 77 Hesston buckles were produced in 1977. That same year, Hesston commissioned their first numbered silver buckle distributed as Dealer incentives. The 1977 buckle is the Fourth limited Collector's Buckle, 3rd cowboy classic rodeo edition. The buckle is stamped on the back "Commemorating the 4th annual network telecast from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Sponsored exclusively by Hesston Corporation and participating Hesston Farm Equipment Dealers". The front has "1977 National Finals Rodeo" and Hesston in large letters, plus a bull rider. 3 3/8" x 2 3/8" for up to a 1 3/4" belt. Brass color, oval shape. The 1977 was the Ist one to be oval shaped. Also, 1977 was the only year for a license plate promoting Professional Rodeo made available only to Territory Managers and Dealers.

The 1978 Hesston buckle was the Fifth limited Collector's Buckle, 4th cowboy classic rodeo edition. and was again manufactured by Cast Products of Chicago in quantities of around 150,000. The buckle is stamped on the back "Commemorating the 5th annual network telecast from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Sponsored exclusively by Hesston Corporation and participating Hesston Farm Equipment Dealers". The front has "78 National Finals Rodeo" and Hesston in large letters, calf roper. 3 3/8" x 2 3/8" for up to a 1 3/4" belt. Brass color, oval shape. This was one of the earliest buckles and is smaller and has a different look than later ones. Designed by Bill Manley and manufactured at Cast Products, Chicago, IL.

The 1979 Hesston buckle was also manufactured by Cast Products of Chicago. This is the Sixth limited Collector's Buckle, 5th cowboy classic rodeo edition. The buckle is stamped on the back "Commemorating the 6th annual network telecast from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Sponsored exclusively by Hesston Corporation and participating Hesston Farm Equipment Dealers". The front has "1979 National Finals Rodeo" and Hesston in large letters, bareback rider and horse. 3 3/8" x 2 3/8" for up to a 1 3/4" belt. Brass color, oval shape.

The 1980 Hesston buckle was the sixth edition of Rodeo Series. This is the Seventh limited Collector's Buckle, 6th cowboy classic rodeo edition. The buckle is stamped on the back "Commemorating the 7th annual network telecast from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Sponsored by Hesston Corporation and participating Hesston Farm Equipment Dealers". The front has "National Finals Rodeo" and Hesston in large letters, with two cowboys doing a team roping event. 3 3/8" x 2 1/2" for up to a 1 3/4" belt. Brass color, oval shape.

The 1981 Hesston buckle was the seventh in the Rodeo Series. This is the Eighth limited Collector's Buckle, 7th cowboy classic rodeo edition. The buckle is stamped on the back "Commemorating the 8th annual network telecast from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Sponsored by Hesston Corporation and participating Hesston Farm Equipment Dealers". The front has "National Finals Rodeo" and Hesston in large letters, with two rodeo clowns, a bull and a barrel. 3 1/2" x 2 1/2" for up to a 1 3/4" belt. Brass color, oval shape.

The 1982 Hesston buckle was the eighth final cowboy Classic edition buckle. This buckle was gold/bronze in color and had the phrase, All Aound Cowboy, across the top of the buckle.This is the 8th Classic Cowboy Rodeo Series. "Eighth edition collector's buckle, Commemorating the 9th annual network telecast from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, sponsored exclusively by Hesston Corporation and participating Hesston farm equipment dealers". The front has "National Finals Rodeo - 1982 Hesston - All Around Cowboy" with a cowboy carrying a saddle along with calf wrestling and bronc riding. 3 3/4" x 2 7/8" for up to a 1 1/2" belt.

In 1983, Hesston produced a buckle design commemorating the 25th anniversary of the National Finals Rodeo (this was the last Hesston buckle designed by Bill Manley). This is the tenth limited Collector's Buckle, 25th Anniversary first edition. The buckle is stamped on the back "Commemorating the 10th annual network telecast of the National Finals Rodeo, sponsored by Hesston Corporation and participating Hesston Farm Equipment Dealers". The front has "Hesston, 25th Anniversary Series 59-83" with a bareback rider and a bull rider. 3 3/4" x 3"" for up to a 1 3/4" belt. In 1983 Award Design Metal (ADM) made the first Sterling Silver and 24 karat gold plated buckle and the first youth Hesston buckle, which came with a belt. (Youth buckles have been produced every year since).

In 1983 and 1984, Hesston cast the buckles and Award Design Metals finished them. ADM also produced the dies.This is the Eleventh limited Collector's Buckle,second anniversary edition. The buckle is stamped on the back "Designed and signed by Fred Fellows commemorating the 11th annual network telecast of the National Finals Rodeo, sponsored by Hesston Corporation and participating Hesston Farm Equipment Dealers". The front has "National Finals Rodeo - NFR 1984 Hesston" with floral design and a saddle bronc rider. 3 3/4" x 3"" for up to a 1 3/4" belt.

In late 1984, Award Design Metal bought the Hesston Buckle machine and has produced the Hesston buckles ever since.

The 1984 through 1989 Hesston Buckles were designed by Fred Fellow. The 1985 buckle is the Twelfth limited Collector's Buckle, third anniversary edition. The buckle is stamped on the back "Designed and signed by Fred Fellows commemorating the 12th annual network telecast of the National Finals Rodeo, sponsored by Hesston Corporation and participating Hesston Farm Equipment Dealers". The front has "National Finals Rodeo - NFR 1985 Hesston" with floral design and a calf roping event. 3 3/4" x 3"" for up to a 1 3/4" belt.

The 1986 buckle is the Thirteenth limited Collector's Buckle, 4th annivesary edition. The bucke is stamped on the back "Designed and signed by Fred Fellows commorating the 13th annual network telecast of the National Finals Rode, sponsored by Hesston Corporation and participating Hesston Farm Equipment Dealers". The front has "National Finals Rodeo - NFR 1986 Hesston" with floral design and bareback rider. 3 3/4" x 2 3/4" for up to a 1 3/4" belt.

The 1987 buckle is the Fourteenth limited Collector's Buckle, fifth anniversary edition. The buckle is stamped on the back "Designed and signed by Fred Fellows commemorating the 14th annual network telecast of the National Finals Rodeo, sponsored by Hesston Corporation and participating Hesston Farm Equipment Dealers". The front has "National Finals Rodeo - NFR 1987 Hesston" with floral design and two cowboys in a team roping event. 3 3/4" x 3"" for up to a 1 3/4" belt. Gray color, rectangular shape. Made by Award Design Medals in Noble, Oklahoma.

The 1988 buckle is the Fifteenth limited Collector's Buckle, sixth anniversary edition. The buckle is stamped on the back "Designed and signed by Fred Fellows commemorating the 30th annual network telecast of the National Finals Rodeo, sponsored by Hesston Corporation and participating Hesston Farm Equipment Dealers". The front has "National Finals Rodeo - NFR 1988 Hesston" with floral design and a cowboy riding a bucking bull. 3 3/4" x 3"" for up to a 1 3/4" belt. Gray color, oval shape. Made by Award Design Medals in Noble, Oklahoma.

In 1989, Hesston produced two buckles with different designs and closed out the Hesston Anniversary Series buckles. The 1989 buckle is the Sixteenth limited Collector's Buckle, 7th anniversary edition. The buckle is stamped on the back "Designed and signed by Fred Fellows commemorating the 16th annual network telecast of the National Finals Rodeo, sponsored by Hesston Corporation and participating Hesston Farm Equipment Dealers". The front has "National Finals Rodeo - NFR 1989 Hesston" with floral design and a cow wrestling event. 3 3/4" x 3"" for up to a 1 3/4" belt.

The 1990 Hesston buckle was the first edition of the Hesston National Finals Commemorative Series. This buckle was designed and produced by ADM. This is the Seventeenth limited Collector's Buckle, the first Hesston Commemorative Series. The buckle is stamped on the back "Hesston 1990 NFR Commemorative Series. Limited Collection Buckle. Designed and signed by Award Design Medals. Commemorating the 17th annual network telecast of the National Finals Rodeo, sponsored by Hesston Corporation and participating Hesston Farm Equipment Dealers". The front has "National Finals Rodeo - NFR 1990 Hesston" with floral design and the words "Hesston Fiatagri" plus a bareback bronc rider. 3 3/4" x 3"" for up to a 1 3/4" belt. Gray color, rectangular shape. Made by Award Design Medals in Noble, Oklahoma.

The 1991 Hesston buckle is the Eighteenth limited Collector's Buckle, 2nd in the Hesston Commemorative Series. The front has "1991 National Finals Rodeo" with floral design, bull rider, and the word "Hesston". 3 3/4" x 3"" for up to a 1 3/4" belt. the second buckle in the Commemorative Series, designed and produced by Award Design Medals in Noble, Oklahoma.

Note: In 1991, Hesston sold out to AGCO, a German based company, and a new company named AGCO Corporation was founded on June 20, 1990 with its headquarters just outside Atlanta, Georgia. AGCO Corporation has its roots in the global farm equipment industry with its heritage reaching as far back as the mid 1800s through many of its brands. However, its direct lineage is from the North American Allis-Chalmers Company. This innovative leader in the field of agriculture sold its farm equipment division to the German company Klockner-Humboldt-Deutz (KHD) in 1985 during a period of industry consolidation. After the historic fall of Communism in 1989, KHD sold the company then known as Deutz-Allis to a management buyout group. The new company was named AGCO Corporation and began on June 20, 1990 with its headquarters just outside Atlanta, Georgia. Today, AGCO is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “AG” and as a public company boasts of shareholders worldwide. Hesston brand products continued to be manufactured under the Hesston brand name after it's acquisition by AGCO.

The 1992 Hesston buckle is the Nineteenth limited Collector's Buckle, the 3rd Hesston Commemorative series. The buckle is stamped on the back "Hesston 1992 NFR Commemorative Series. Limited Collection Buckle. Designed and signed by Award Design Medals. Commemorating the 19th annual network telecast of the National Finals Rodeo, sponsored by Hesston Corporation and participating Hesston Farm Equipment Dealers". The front has "National Finals Rodeo - NFR 1992 Hesston" with floral design and the words "Hesston AGCO" plus a calf roper. 3 3/4" x 3"" for up to a 1 3/4" belt.

The 1993 Hesston buckle was the fourth buckle in the Commemorative series produced by ADM.

1994 Hesston buckle, designed by Carl Bascom was the fifth buckle in the Commemorative Series designed and produced by ADM.

In 1997, Hesston produced a NFR buckle, and also a buckle for the 50th anniversary of Hesston equipment. In 1998, there were two buckles produced as part of the NFR series: a bronc rider and a women barrel racer.

Hesston buckles continue to be issued each year with the latest issue being the 2009 Hesston buckle.



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