This spellbinding buckle features "The Face in the Leaves" -- a symbol of great power and antiquity, which appears in ancient churches and cathedrals throughout the British Isles, but originated in pre-Christian times. From the dawn of history, various cultures have used similar imagery evoking the mysteries of life, death and rebirth.
In Britain, the Green Man motif enjoyed a resurgence in the late 18th century, continuing through much of the 19th. During the Gothic Revival and Arts and Crafts eras, it often appeared as a decorative motif in and on buildings, both religious and secular. Architects in America and the British colonies took up the design around the same time. In jewelry, on the other hand, it remained rare until the medievalist look caught on again much later -- in the 1930s, the 1960s and more recent days. Now it's wildly popular in certain circles, as you know.
Based on the strong Art Nouveau influence, this superb antique buckle dates from the Late Victorian Aesthetic Period (most likely 1880s or 1890s), which makes it quite a rarity. Although not marked, the silver looks to be sterling grade or close. It's a very fine piece, exquisitely crafted with loads of dimension and in miraculous condition, relative to age. It reached us from a midwestern estate, but was certainly produced in a major city known for first-rate silverwork (New York, Chicago or a European capital).
Wear it with any belt or sash up to about an inch wide, or stitch it onto a cape or jacket to serve as a fabulous clasp. Closed, it measures approximately 1.25 inches by 2 inches.
There's no charge for insured U.S. shipping, with an equivalent discount on international delivery, and gift-wrap is free on request. Please e-mail to confirm availability, order or request more photos. I'm always happy to send larger images that will give you a clearer view. Thanks for looking!