Sword Belt Buckle (Snake Buckle)
Title: Buckle, Belt, Snake, Navy, US
Accession #: NHHC 1976-181-A
Size: 4.75 x 1.25
Location: Headquarters Artifact Collection, Naval History and Heritage Command
One gold-plated sword belt buckle with snake style hook. The plate consists of a relief depiction of an eagle with outstretched wings atop a horizontal foul anchor. The Federal shield covers its chest and there is a cluster of arrows in the eagle's talons. Above the eagle is a half-circle with the words "E Pluribus Unum" along the outer edge. The loop attachment is in the form of a dolphin, its body also forming the hook for the belt attachment. The two plates are mirror images of each other. The S hook, or snake style hook, is cast with a floral and geometric design.
This is the oldest known US Navy buckle pattern. A die proof of slightly larger dimensions is in the Stokes-Kirk Collection at the Smithsonian. The "snake" style hook is frequently seen in English sword belt buckles and was seen frequently in the Civil War when the British were providing buckles to the Confederate Navy.