By Gary Williams


It is a well known fact that reproduction buckles can fool both the novice and experienced collector. Even long time reputable dealers have been and currently are being deceived. I must admit that I have also been victimized a few times over the years. As you can see from the photo above, it is hard to tell the difference!


Reproductions are being sold daily for the real thing, with prices soaring into the thousands of dollars. Thanks to Gary Williams, you are about to become educated. "So who is Gary Williams?" you might ask. Well, Gary is one of the most knowledgeable and respected buckle experts in the country. Gary owns Hanover Brass and has been making sand cast reproduction buckles for over 30 years. His reproductions, in most cases, are cast from actual authentic Civil War buckles. A buckle made by Gary will have his initials "GW" cast on the back. With the increase in prices and demand for authentic Civil War buckles, some unscrupulous souls are filing off his initials and even artificially ageing the plates to fool the uneducated. There are also other folks out there casting these repros, some that even learned the process from Gary himself. Please note that it is not the intention of this site to identify fakes or reproductions made by others. Only ones positively made by Gary!


Hopefully, after browsing these photos and descriptions, you will be able to tell whether a plate being sold is original or one of Gary's reproductions. Please understand that experience is still the best educator. If you are about to purchase a plate or buckle and after viewing these pages you still aren't sure, ask Gary for his opinion in our members forum.


We recommend that you also have reference material to help you in this education process. Three books in particular are "Confederate Belt Buckles and Plates" by Steve Mullinax, "American Military Belt Plates" by Michael J. O'Donnell & J. Duncan Campbell and "Confederate General Service Accoutrement Plates" by Lon W. Keim, MD. A forth book that I also recommend is "Repro Buckles of the Civil War" by Howard Crouch. Gary is also working on a comprehensive reproduction buckle book. Some of the photos on these pages will also be included in his new book. If by chance, you cannot find these books, you can click on the link "Purchase Reference Books" on the "Members Home Page". The links will consist of dealers that are members of this site that sell reference books.


These books also list the size of authentic Civil War buckles in millimeters, which can be very important in your determination. During the casting process, there is approximately 1 to 2mm of shrinkage that occurs, so most repros will be slightly smaller in size. Since the size is measured in millimeters, it is advised to have a set of calipers to verify these sizes.


Gary will be showing his casting flaws in these photos. Some are very minute while others quite noticeable. If matching flaws are on the plate you are considering, you can be assured that it is one of Gary's reproductions! Of course there is a very remote possibility that the plate IS the original that he cast his reproduction from. Although this would be highly unlikely as Gary knows the owner of every original plate and notes the owner with each plate's description!

If you still aren't sure how invaluable this information can be for you, click on the link below. This was an actual auction selling one of Gary's repros as original.

Here are the different categories on this site.

During the construction phase, the date of the most recent updates to a category will be placed next to that category in RED.


                                               Besides studying Gary's flaws in the photos, it is also recommended that you learn the differences
                                               between his hooks and the hooks on original sword belt plates, both US and CS.
                                                                 AN EDUCATION ON HOOKS (9/8/06)
                                               Next, it is important to know how he makes his lead backed buckles and plates.
                                                                 AN EDUCATION ON LEAD BACKS
                                                                 LEARNING THE FLAWS ON RICHMOND 2-PIECE STYLE WREATHS (11/28/06)

                                                                 EARLY MILITIA PLATES (9/17/06)

                                                    US GENERAL SERVICE PLATES
                                                                US 2-PIECE PLATES (8/2/06)
                                                    US ENGINEERS (7/19/06)
                                                    US MARINES (7/19/06)
                                                    US NAVY PLATES (9/17/06)
                                                    US EAGLE SWORD BELT PLATES (Completed)
                                                    US STATE PLATES
                                                                 CALIFORNIA (9/8/06)
                                                                 MASSACHUSETTS (9/8/06)
                                                                 NEW YORK (11/28/06)
                                                                 OHIO (9/8/06)
                                                    US & OTHER MISCELLANEOUS PLATES (11/28/06)

                                                    CONFEDERATE 2-PIECE BUCKLES (6/7/07)
                                                    CONFEDERATE GENERAL SERVICE PLATES
                                                                 CS & CSA PLATES (8/30/06)
                                                                 FRAME BUCKLES (8/30/06)
                                                                 FORK TONGUE BUCKLES (11/28/06)
                                                                 SNAKE BUCKLES (7/13/06)
                                                    CONFEDERATE STATE PLATES
                                                                 ALABAMA (9/26/06)
                                                                 ARKANSAS (9/27/06)
                                                                 GEORGIA (9/26/06)
                                                                 KENTUCKY (9/7/06)
                                                                 LOUISIANA (9/17/06)
                                                                 MARYLAND (9/17/06)
                                                                 MISSISSIPPI (9/26/06)
                                                                 NORTH CAROLINA (9/17/06)
                                                                 SOUTH CAROLINA (11/28/06)
                                                                 TEXAS (11/28/06)
                                                                 VIRGINIA (9/26/06)
                                                    CS NAVY PLATES (9/12/06)
                                                    CONFEDERATE MISCELLANEOUS PLATES (7/20/06)

View some actual photos on this site. This is a mix from different categories.

As you can see from viewing one of the pages on this site, this is in essence an on-line book. There are over 500 photos presented with descriptions about each plate. With this invaluable knowledge at hand, the reader should be able to spot one of Gary's repros being sold as the real thing, thereby saving some hard earned money.
With that being said, we are asking a fair subscription price to view the tremendous amount of knowledge on these pages.

The membership fee is $30 a year. A $10 discount is being offered if you subscribe now, while the site is still under construction. You will have complete access to the site during this building phase. Included with your membership, you will have access to our members "Reproduction Buckles & Plates" forum. Here you can ask Gary questions that you might have concerning his photos and/or his descriptions. If you have a web site, you can add your site to the "Members Links" page. Finally, members will be able to purchase Gary's "book" copy of these pages at a 50% discount when it is published.
You can subscribe immediately using a credit card via our secure payment service or if you prefer, you can mail us a check or Money Order. For either preference, please click on "Join Our Site".


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By Gary Williams