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****Shoe Buckles Now Available!****


 Now, GOF offers the only authentic GAOP repro shoe buckle available (the doubled spiked loop chape buckle, sold by all other vendors, is POST 1720!).  Copied from an original example in my collection, this style buckle covers the Golden Age of Piracy time-frame, and this size (3/4" or 19 mm) would be perfect for any shoe from 1680 to 1720+.

If you are currently having shoes made, please tell your maker to cut the latches to fit a 3/4" (19mm) buckle!


Brass Buckles PAIR $30
Silver Buckles PAIR $35

Set of silver and brass $55 (plus shipping)

PLUS shipping ($4.50  US, UK and EU)


Please contact me at using the subject "shoe buckles" for payment options.




A lot of pirate re-enactors and enthusiast are convinced that they have to wear bucket boots or cavalry style boots to be "a pirate".  This is simply not true, as historical evidence, text, art, and the archeological record for the Golden Age (1690-1725), all show sailors and pirates to be wearing the style shoe of the day.  So, if you are re-enacting for historical accuracy, you should be wearing shoes as well.

That being said, the few sources that suggest a type of boot used during the Golden Age are a watercolor from a series painted from a French hydrographer named Duplessis during a late 17th early 18th century circumnavigation. 

DuPlessis claimed in his journal; "My drawings of their bodies and clothes are true to life." It was painted on the Island of Tierra Del Fuego. The French were sailing in the Pacific with a Captain Jaques Gouin de Beauchense in the year 1700.  The painting shows some Frenchmen at a "swimming hole" watching native girls skinny dipping.  The interesting thing about the painting (besides the nekkid' women) is the fact that the Frenchmen are wearing some sort of tall boots along with a hooded coat, like a capote. .


There is another painting from the same journal that shows two men in a native camp  (this time, on the west coast of South America) also wearing tall boots, carrying the long firelocks and without the overcoats as in the previous picture. There is also a smaller painting from the same journal shows two seamen sea-lion hunting with pikes at the Straights of Magellan... but wearing shoes!

It is important to remember that this was an exploration expedition, and these men were not pirates and their true part in the expedition is unknown.  They could be soldiers or hunters that would have been employed to augment the crew for the purpose of both providing meat and defense. If you look at pictures from Acadia, (or New France), you will see great resemblance in the manner of dress between the "coureier du buois" and the men in the painting. So... were they sailors or hired guns?



"The attached print of the clothing and accessories worn and used by Spanish sailors comes from a series of sepia pencil and wash illustrations of regulation Spanish naval and marine uniforms, equipment, armaments, and accessories in the collection of the MarquIs de Victoria, who compiled an album of illustrations and documents related to Spain's naval forces between 1717 and 1756. The album reposes in the archives of Spain's Naval Museum and, since its discovery about fifteen years ago, has been intensely utilized by students, scholars, living history interpreters and illustrators as an invaluable primary source of evidence and information about Spain's naval material culture in the first half of the 18th century. This particular series of drawings was executed ca. 1725"

1725 gets it pretty close, though its at the very end of, the GAoP. No doubt that some of the items would have been used earlier, but hard to say how early

So... What kind of Shoe?

We can divide shoes into two basic groups.  Gentlemen's shoes and Common man's shoes.  Gentlemen's shoes tend to have a squared toe, tall stacked or timbered heel, large tongue, and dainty buckles.  It was fashionable for the upper classes to paint the tongues and heels red, but this can be done by anyone post 1710 as the fashion had trickled down to the working classes by this time.

A sailor would probably have a shoe that was from, or similar to an Admiralty Contract shoe.  The items from the ASC were fairly inexpensive, and available on long credit, so the working class sailor would probably have availed himself of the opportunity.  Characteristics of these shoes are round (ASC) or squared toe, stacked leather heel, large tongue, and small latch and buckle (between 1/2" for 1670s, to 1" for 1720).  These shoes would be butt stitched  (a construction method) together and made from vegetable tanned leather.

Gentlemen's Shoes 1680-1700


Shoe Buckles

Parts of the Shoe Buckle

A lot of this has been adapted for GAoP specific use from Chris Marshal's Excellent work "Buckle's Through the Ages" which you can find here

Buckles start to come onto the scene around 1660, at least for the fashionable classes, and are almost ubiquitous by the 1720s.  It is important to note that GAoP (and earlier buccaneer period) shoes will have smaller buckles.  Not just small, but very small! 

Latch sizes (the part of the shoe leather that feeds through the buckle) on period footwear can be be as narrow as a half inch.  While latch sizes did increase to become very wide by the end of the 18th century, they were still only 1" wide at the most by 1720.  So for the heart of  the Golden Age of Piracy, 1/2" to 3/4" would be realistic.

This poses a problem for Pirate/Sailor re-enactors as there are currently no "small" buckles on the market.  Additionally, even the 1" buckle that is offered by most vendors is a later style buckle with 2 loop spikes and a double spiked tongue. 

Because of the small size of buckle, they are commonly confused with (or misidentified) as "knee buckles".  In general, shoe buckles have a "curved" profile where knee buckles tend to be flat.  Later knee buckles have double and triple-spiked tongues.  Also, the knee-buckles spindle generally spans the length of the buckle frame rather than the width (it crosses at the widest part).

Below are some common shoe buckles found during the GAoP

STUD CHAPE - 1660-1720
The stud chape is one of the most frequently found of the early methods of buckle attachment. A slit was cut in the latch and the stud was pushed through to secure the buckle, and the other latch was then thread through the buckle and pierced by the chape's tongue.   Stud chapes are usually made of a copper-alloy with a single spiked tongue.  The chapes in the graphics below have been colored to aid in identification.


This type of buckle is attached to the shoe latch as above, but instead of a stud, the chapes has an anchor shape that is inserted. This type of buckle was used for shoe up until the 1720s and declines in use so that by the middle of the 18th century, they are no longer used for that purpose.  Anchor chaped knee buckles can be found throughout the 18th century, however, they usually have a two or three spiked tongue.

By the 1690's, the loop chape begins to be seen and will slowly replace both the stud and anchor types.  Pre 1720 loop chape buckles for shoes have only one spike on the tongue and loop.  Those buckles with forked tongues an multiple spikes are fond on later (post 1720) shoe and knee buckles. 



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