Condition: Near Mint
Product Description: This is a desirable and very rare variant of an early German fire defense buckle. This pattern likely dates from the Weimar period, or early in the Third Reich. It is made from silver-plated brass, a typical construction technique used on early buckles, and remains in nearly perfect condition. The heavy silver plating on this buckle has been highly polished, and is as reflective as a mirror, making it tough to photograph. All of the original silver plating is intact, with some minor age toning and handling marks. The front of the buckle features a roundel with the helmet and axes emblem of German fire fighters, with the motto “Gott zur Ehr, dem Naechsten zur Wehr” (Honor God, Defend your Neighbor). The roundel has a very attractive gold finish. The reverse of this early German fire defense buckle shows typical neat solder joints from the roundel application, with no sign of repair. The silver plated prong assembly for affixing this to a belt is intact and perfect, with only very minor age toning to the original finish. This buckle is a very tough variant to find; this is an outstanding example.
Historical Description: The belt buckle was an important part of the regalia worn by all uniformed military, civil, political and paramilitary organizations during the Third Reich. The belt (“Koppel”) was part of the uniform, and would always be worn while on duty. The belt buckle (“Koppelschloss”) was generally specific to each organization, with many organizations having separate belt buckles for officers and for enlisted personnel, sometimes with different colors and finishes to further denote specific purposes. The buckles were adorned with various mottos and designs specific to the organizations for which they were intended. Many designs used the German national eagle emblem, in a variety of forms. Belt buckles were worn with uniforms ranging from finely tailored officer parade uniforms, to the issue uniforms of enlisted soldiers in combat. Generally speaking, most German belt buckles of the Third Reich were made with two prongs on the reverse, to allow the buckle to be worn and adjusted on a belt. The buckle had a catch that would mate with a hook on the belt, when worn. The earliest Third Reich buckles were often made of brass, or nickel silver. Later, aluminum became very common, and was used on private purchase as well as enlisted buckles of the German military, with or without a painted or plated finish. After WWII began, most enlisted military buckles were steel. Nazi belt buckles were popular souvenirs for Allied troops who served in Europe. Some types were made by the millions and remain quite common today. Others were made in limited numbers and are very rare.
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