Original British WWI Souvenir Leather Belt with 16 Attached Buttons, Badges & Insignia
Original Item: One-of-a-kind. American soldiers were known for their love of souvenirs in the Great War; So, a lot of material history of the war came across the Atlantic with returning soldiers. Among collectors of military memorabilia from World War One "SOUVENIR BELTS" are items of interest.
German soldiers' leather belts, and other belts from participating armies, that were festooned with buttons from soldiers uniforms are called Hate Belts / Souvenir Belts / Grave Digger Belts. These made for excellent collector's pieces.
"Hate Belt": the idea was that if a German soldier had killed or captured an Allied soldier, then he would have the button from the newly deceased or captured soldier attached to his belt as a kind of notch of conquest on his belt. This, no doubt, is the most intriguing explanation for those decorative belts.
"Souvenir Belt": this description is apt for many of the belts that are in circulation today. The souvenir belt would involve a German infantryman's belt being decorated with buttons and tabs from troops BOTH Allied and CENTRAL Powers and kept as a remembrance of The War.
"Grave Digger Belt" description is self explanatory, to a degree. Troops burying dead soldiers would sometimes remove buttons from those they buried as a remembrance. It is impossible to determine the origin of most belts, but some of these highly collectible belts provide some hints as to their origin. Nevertheless, these belts provide for excellent points of interest for collectors.
This example offered in very good condition features a brown leather belt with a rectangular brass buckle, most likely British private purchase. It features an impressive 16 items in total attached to it, secured by a mixture of split pins, safety pins, and leather stripping. A few are installed via their own attachment tabs. Most look to be British forces regimental badges from various units, with some other insignia. Units represented include the Royal Flying Corps, the New Zealand IX Regiment, the Royal Artillery, and more. The belt measures about 36 inches long and 1 3/4 inches wide, with a brass buckle on the end.
An extremely impressive item! Ready to research and display!
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