Updated: Oct 26, 2021
Can you spot the originals and the reproductions? This North & Judd longhorn buckle set was quite popular back in the 1930's and 1940's. With its popularity it was bound to be reproduced at some point. As a matter of fact it was reproduced quite a bit but was it any good? Nope. Instead we find cheap substitutes being reproduced around the 90's and even some companies to this day I've come to find. Thin, low quality metals, a dramatic loss in definition in the figure relief and lackluster nickel finishes are trademarks of these reproductions.
After getting well acquainted with North & Judd hardware and buckles they become fairly easy to spot. The dead giveaway for most is the anchor stamp on the backside of the buckle but they don't always have that brand. For me the main indicator is the tongue. The ends are smooth, bulbous and a bit polished looking. Sturdy. Not thin or low quality at all. They change around a bit now and then but they're a dead giveaway to me.
I was lucky to come across some good lots of their western buckle sets a couple years ago and every now and then find a set or two. One other thing that stands out to me when hunting for them, though wont stop me from a purchase, is the level of detail found in any given pressing. As the die wears out over time clearly you'll lose the finer detail as you'll see in the photo of these two billet tips. Try to find where the detail is lost in the pressing to the right.
I do have a few different North & Judd buckle sets in stock and due to their rarity and value will be slowly releasing belts and eventually guitar straps equipped with them. I'm excited to continue to chip away at the vast variety of vintage belts that I want to reproduce as well as my own designs. I think many of us dream about still being able to purchase these western jewel belts from the old mail order catalogs just as our grandparents did. Finding and using new old stock hardware on my products just gets me one step closer to producing the perfect belt.