Confederate belt buckles can be valued at thousands of dollars – a fact which has spurred an interesting pastime – digging for buckles. While record collectors refer to searching for valuable vinyl at stores or sales as “digging in the crates,” “digging for buckles” in the southern United States literally means grabbing a shovel and unearthing a specific part of, say Tennessee, for example.
This excerpt was taken from a fine article called “Collecting Confederate Belt Buckles” by Amanda Young (http://www.go-star.com/antiquing/confedbuckles.htm):
“Digging for buckles requires patience, knowledge, and even a bit of luck. About a month ago, Steve and others were digging for buckles in Dallas, GA when one of his fellow diggers recovered a square buckle with rounded edges 15 feet away from where Steve was searching. The worth of the buckle ended up being around $4,000. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of where you’re standing.”
Belt buckles, like jewelry, are gender specific and generally easy to maintain or to restore. Masculine lifestyles are reflected through personalized buckles of various time periods that often are representative of an occupation, region, or organization.
Military, police, fire service, western, and youth group buckles have long been popular belt buckle themes. Rarer, are multi-function buckles containing cigarette lighters, knives, and guns. Secret groups like the Masons had their own buckles and so did the Secret Service. Boy Scout buckles can be a collection in itself, as can cowboy buckles.
Men’s buckles are often regional – Mexican belt buckles are a distinct tradition and Japanese art buckles are interesting as well. Confederate buckles are quite the collector’s item.