In 1955 I purchased
my first Metal detector. I live on the Cold Harbor
battlefield and as a young arrowhead hunter, I used to pick up mini balls
and other Civil War relics while walking the fields searching for
arrowheads. Well this relic hunting hobby grew into a business while in
high school and soon after I opened a Civil War Relic Shop. This was on the Cold
Harbor battlefield tour route and many tourists would stop by. I began taking
people from every state relic hunting. (and even some from outside the U S.) Many, many
friends today were established from these relic hunts and I still take a lot
of the same people hunting today. How I began casting buckles is a story of
relic days. In 1966 a tourist from Georgia stopped by and wanted to buy
relics for resale in Atlanta. In the trade deal he asked if I would be
interested to learn the casting process and cast reproduction civil war
buckles. He had bought a hobby kit and lost interest but would give me a
deal. So this was the beginning. You do not know how much time it takes and
how many failures there are in the beginning. Well luck stopped by my relic shop on a
battlefield tour one day and wanted a personal tour for the family. Here we
go driving along when he says I see you like foundry work. You have a lot to
learn and I am the guy that can show you how to cast many buckles at a time
instead of one. His name was Mr. Ludwig and he taught Foundry school in Pa.
That day I gave him a all day tour and a few relics I had found. He said he
would get back down and show me some free schooling. He did. The next
weekend he came down with foundry supplies and a special molding sand, that
I still use today. After many, many weeks of going to Pa. and he coming to
Va. I was beginning to learn a trade I could perfect from then until I retire.
Then my son Gary Jr. will continue the buckle business. He does the
beautiful buckle finishing and the leather work. Thanks to Mr. Ludwig , who
now lives in Fl., I have customers all over the World. Another big problem
was getting Civil War buckle patterns. I had to pay for just about every
pattern I copied. I do not mind doing this but other people were starting to
get into the casting business and copied my patterns.Some of the people that
were around a lot in the early days went on to cast buckles and their marks
are HP, L, P, D, Abe, WS. All of these will say they taught me everything I
know .There are a couple people on the internet that are using my catalog,
information and products to sell theirs. You are not getting what you see.
Some people are getting them made in Pakistan for $1.35 and selling them
for $15.00 in the US. Bad business, bad quality.Today I have over 500 civil
war patterns and cast a lot of buttons ,spurs and other items. I also
collect the original belt plates and any other item I can. I have dug over
1200 US belt plates from the battlefields since 1955. In closing I would
like to say that I still love the business and will always give my customers
the best product anywhere. If you are a collector be careful when buying a
original buckle. . All people have to do is ask me to see if it is one of
mine. Thank all of you for the many years of business and may we have many
more. You can read more about my foundry below.
Hanover Brass has been in the business of casting belt plates for over 40 years. All of our buckles are solid brass, sand cast and hand worked much as the originals were during and before the Civil War era. Each is made from a first generation casting, exclusive to Hanover Brass, the only foundry licensed to cast from the original buckles.
We take great pride in our work and guarantee our buckles to be the finest reproductions found anywhere in the world today.
All of our buckles are cast from original plates, courtesy of
The Virginia Historical Society's Maryland Steuart Collection
The Smithsonian Institute uses our buckles for reference to help determine originals from reproductions, they are of such high quality, that many have tried to artificially age them and pass them off as originals.
Buckles created by Hanover Brass were chosen by The National Museum Of American History to be part of the National Collection.
Some of the foundries other works include, creating silver medallions for former President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, and the 1983 Summit of Industrialized Nations.
In 1985 Hanover Brass was a nominee in the 2nd Governor's Awards for the Arts in Virginia.
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