Original U.S. WWI Hate Belt
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 "HATE BELTS" are items of interest.
This is an original WW1 U.S. trouser belt in very nice condition showing some light use. the belt buckle is marked PAT. JAN. 12 04 (Mills production). Belt measures approximately 40 inches in length. It is adorned with 25 pieces of British, Australian, Turkish, and German insignia, buttons and badges. The pieces are held to the betl on the reverse side with pieces of shoelace. A very attractive and clearly handmade piece of Great War trench art.
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 an American soldier had killed or captured a German 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.
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