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Unmarked Painted Steel HJ Buckle: Opinions on Origins & Maker

Article about: Guido, can you show the face of the two buckles you have posted please?

  1. #1

    Default Unmarked Painted Steel HJ Buckle: Opinions on Origins & Maker

    Hello All,

    Attached is an unmarked painted steel HJ buckle that I just recently acquired and towards which Ben had started a previous thread. This buckle has turned out to be a most interesting piece and I must admit that when I first saw it I questioned the originality. It appeared to me very different from many HJ buckles I had seen up until now including a somewhat odd design and features more often seen with other buckle types such as Wehrmacht-Heer, Luftwaffe and SS. I was also suspicious as it is not RZM marked which should invariably be the case with these painted steel HJ buckles.

    Through my inquiry into and purchasing of this buckle it appears to be a scarce, seldom seen HJ and indeed it has been a first for many other collectors. The pre-1945 provenance seems undisputed and Chad Williams holds an identical example of this buckle within his collection.

    With regard to the origins of this buckle and a possible maker there have been some interestingly divergent opinions and speculations from more experienced collectors. The 3 possibilities that have been proposed thus far are as follows:


    1. The buckle is of Belgian origin as it appears to share features with other Belgian-made buckles. This seems to me to be a very plausible theory as the buckle in unmarked. The lack of RZM marking seems to make a good case for Belgian manufacture as far as being outside Germany and, thus, the RZM regulations.

    2. The buckle is perhaps by Assmann due to similar features seen with the RZM 155/40 steel SS and Assmann Luftwaffe buckles. The roundel design however does not seem characteristic of Assmann.

    3. Features of the design appear similar to and may indicate manufacture by Overhoff.


    This is indeed a very interesting and somewhat mysterious HJ. I would appreciate and welcome anyone to expand upon the possibilities above or offer other thoughts or opinions.

    Best,
    Adam
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  3. #2

    Default Re: Unmarked Painted Steel HJ Buckle: Opinions on Origins & Maker

    Adam, as we discussed before at first glance I thought it might have been made by Overhoff, however with the differing colour and catch the only things similar now I have seen both together are the ears, strange how the catch is the Belgian type? Whoever made the buckle it is a nice piece and quite rare (in fact the only one I have seen)
    Attached Images Attached Images    
    Ben

  4. #3

    Default Re: Unmarked Painted Steel HJ Buckle: Opinions on Origins & Maker

    Just had another good look, do you have a better picture of the end of the prongs? At some angles it does look like the ones on the fake SS 155/43?
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    Ben

  5. #4

    Default Re: Unmarked Painted Steel HJ Buckle: Opinions on Origins & Maker

    Hi guys,

    As requested here are a few additional photos of the HJ prongs as well as another angle of the buckle from above.

    Best,
    Adam
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  6. #5

    Default Re: Unmarked Painted Steel HJ Buckle: Opinions on Origins & Maker

    For comparison here is also a photo merging of the reverses of the HJ, Overhoff Heer and of two examples of the 155/40 Assmann SS. To my less experienced eyes, the HJ appears very similar to the SS shown at top right.

    Best,
    Adam
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  7. #6

    Default Re: Unmarked Painted Steel HJ Buckle: Opinions on Origins & Maker

    He4y Adam, that Assmann theory is looking good
    Ben

  8. #7

    Default Re: Unmarked Painted Steel HJ Buckle: Opinions on Origins & Maker

    Adam
    thank you for posting this buckle and starting this discussion. This for sure is a very interesting buckle! I also hold one in my collection, and your example is the third I have ever seen. There was a pretty beat up one on the Collectors Guild site in the recent past for sale.

    There are many interesting details to this buckle.
    1. it is an unknown eagle design
    2. has a strange catch that is very similar to buckles that were made in Belgium
    3. it is unmarked
    4. it has curved prongs

    I went through about 100 of my buckles (all of my nickel steel and painted steel) buckles to find a match for the eagle design, and came up with nothing. it has been suggested that this buckle could be Overhoff or Assmann. Why would either of these very prolific makers change the eagle design of their company to produce these buckles? Assmann used the same unmistakeable eagle for their production of HJ buckles from day one all the way through the zinc buckles at the end..

    I authored a thread in 2004 that was about Belgian buckles and there are photos in that thread that show the narrow footed belgian catches that remind me of the catch on the Hj we are discussing. here is a link to the thread
    wehrmacht-awards.com/forums/showthread.php?t=75718

    This buckle is unmarked... I hold 27 painted steel buckles in my collection. Of those 27 only 3 are unmarked... of those 3 , 2 have a known maker because of marked examples and identical matches to the eagle design, catch and claws (all the manufacturing traits) In this time period (painted steel) by order of the RZM , all buckles were to be marked with the protection mark of the RZM and the makers proper M4 code end of story.. Since I hold unmarked examples, we know that the manufacturers did not follow this to the T. But 99% of the painted steel buckles you encounter will be marked. The paint can fill in a lightly stamped mark, this is true, and Dr. Frank M4/23 is the most common maker that heavily overpainted their mark, but if you know where, and what to look for you can usually see traces of the mark. The fact that this buckle is unmarked leans me more towards the fact that this could be Belgian made as they were outside of RZM regulation and did not need to mark their buckles.

    The buckle exhibits curved prongs.. This is a trait that was used by Assmann, and by the Belgian manufacturers. I have asked Adam to use some of my old Belgian photos and an Assmann example make a merge of the curved prongs for us for
    comparison.. and we havent even started talking about the ears yet!!

    I am leaning towards this buckle being made in Belgium, but am very interested in hearing the others opinions, and seeing all the comparison photos . This should be a very good discussion that we can all learn from!
    these are the buckles that make our hobby fun and exciting!!
    here are pics of my example of this buckle.
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    thanks
    Chad

  9. #8

    Default Re: Unmarked Painted Steel HJ Buckle: Opinions on Origins & Maker

    Hello All,

    Per Chad’s suggestion here below is a photo merge I made to compare the prongs of the HJ in question with an Assmann HJ and the 2 Belgian buckles Chad refers to in his post. I have also made and will attach a 2nd photo merge to compare the unmarked HJ catch with both the 155/40 steel SS and Belgian buckles.

    Best,
    Adam

    Photo merge #1 (top to bottom): Unmarked HJ prongs, Assmann injection-molded zinc HJ prongs and Belgian prongs.
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  10. #9

    Default Re: Unmarked Painted Steel HJ Buckle: Opinions on Origins & Maker

    Photo merge #2: Reverse/catch of unmarked HJ and 155/40 SS at top followed by 4 photos of the Belgian buckle catches.
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  11. #10
    ?

    Default Re: Unmarked Painted Steel HJ Buckle: Opinions on Origins & Maker

    Hi All!

    I like this buckle very much and I think also that we can take it for granted that it is an original pre 1945 buckle.

    As well as some of my co-writers I see no reason that Assmann or Overhoff could be involved in the production of this buckle. We have only isolated features wich lead us to one of these famous makers and an identification based for example just on a similar catch construction is standing on cat ice.

    The same is to say about the Belgian maker theory. I have two of these supposedly Belgain made buckles in my collection. Two main features wich they have all in common are missing on the shown HJ buckle: The material zinc (or zinc alloy) and a relativley oversized top rivet head.
    The prongs on the Belgian buckle are different. Die stamped variants are known with curved "Assmann style" prongs against to square prongs on the 2-piece buckles. I have attached two images for comparison. Generally the "Belgian made" buckles give a quite chunky impression when you will have them in hands. If you ask me, I am sure that the HJ above has no relation to these.

    Even though it is hard to encircle the maker I would say this particular HJ buckle is very interesting and an enrichment to each advanced buckle collection. We know many buckles with an unknown maker as for example the enigmatic Organisation Todt buckle. This is a quite normal situation and should not belittle the fun about this great find!

    Best regards,
    Guido
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