The Canterbury Belt

Discussion in 'Andy's Trad Forum' started by Cardinals5, Feb 3, 2011.

  1. Cardinals5

    Cardinals5 Honors Member

    United States
    SC
    Greenville
    "In the mid-sixties, the well-dressed traditional customer wore Rivetz ties, Corbin pants, Southwick natural-shoulder jackets, Gant shirts, a Canterbury belt, and Bass Weejuns."
    -- Michael Gross, Genuine Authentic: The Real Life of Ralph Lauren

    Many of you will no doubt have heard of Canterbury surcingle belts - somewhat legendary for a rather short period of time. Founded in 1957, Canterbury seems to have skyrocketed in popularity among the ivy league dressers by the mid-1960s giving some credence to the above quote, but then just as quickly plummeted so that by the mid-1970s they were selling garish, wide belts through popular magazines. It seems, though my reseach could be faulty, that one of the original owners left at the height of Canterbury's popularity and the company declined rather rapidly thereafter.

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    Text at the bottom of the image: "This is Surcingle, a distinctively heavy worsted race web traditionally used as the belly band on British thoroughbreds. Intrigued by its uncommon texture and well-mannered tones, we decided seven years ago that Surcingle would make especially handsome and sturdy sport belts. Today the Canterbury Surcingle belt is a classic. Made completely in Great Britain, it is a generous 1 1/4 inches wide. The saddle-stitched tab is natural-tanned English brindle leather. The man-sized harness buckle is solid brass. And since we are the exclusive makers and importers of authentic Surcingle belts form England, all 25 racing colours belong to Lord Canterbury. You'll find most of them at batter men's shops everywhere, in sizes 28 to 44, at $3.95."

    I wasn't able to locate an early 1960s Canterbury, but I'm guessing this one came from sometime between 1965-1970. It's exactly as described in the advertisement - brindle leather, brass buckle, 1 1/4" wide, wool, and made in England. The construction quality is significantly better than any other surcingle I've handled. The leather ends are wrapped around the wool strap and then stitched through to give added strength. The more interesting feature, however, is the double thickness. The belt is actually 2 1/2" of strap with 1 1/4" wrapped around the back and stitched down to make a double thickness belt.

    Whole belt
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    Reverse of buckle
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    Leather wrapped and stitched through the wool strap
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    Reverse of the belt
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    Reverse of the belt showing the stitching through the wool
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    Comparing the thickness to a regular wool surcingle
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  2. AldenPyle

    AldenPyle Honors Member

    Hong Kong
    Kowloon
    Clearwater Bay
    This is awesome. If you are not working on a book, you should be.
     
  3. fishertw

    fishertw Super Member

    United States
    North Carolina
    Boone
    I recall coveting these belts in about 1963 as a kid in Charlotte NC. They were sold by Tate-Brown Clothiers and Jack Wood Ltd., both located on South Tryon Street in Charlotte. Thanks for a very pleasant memory of an extremely good quality product that was around for a while.
    Cheers, Tom
     
  4. Pugin

    Pugin Active Member with Corp. Privileges

    244
    United States
    New York
    NY
    Really glad to see you picked this up, Cards. I have one in red, white and blue. The build, quality and character of the belt are exceptional. No other surcingle compares.
     
  5. Cardinals5

    Cardinals5 Honors Member

    United States
    SC
    Greenville
    Thanks for point it out on eBay! I remember to look for them occasionally, but one has to skim through so many crappy Canterbury belts that it gets daunting.
     
  6. Pugin

    Pugin Active Member with Corp. Privileges

    244
    United States
    New York
    NY
    Yep. I watch them closely, and that's the first such belt I've seen on the Bay since July.
     
  7. bd79cc

    bd79cc Super Member

    United States
    TX
    San Antonio
    C5, I remember the ads, but indeed forgot all about the quality built into those belts. Of course, so many more things were "over-designed" and sturdily built back then that even a Canterbury belt could have been taken for granted. Thanks for the run-down and especially for your careful photography.
     
  8. Cowtown

    Cowtown Senior Member

    982
    United States
    Texas
    Fort Worth
    Great looking belt Cards.
     
  9. Andy

    Andy Site Creator/Administrator Staff Member

    United States
    California
    Palm Desert
    Admin Post
    Cardinals5:

    Great report! Thanks!!
     
  10. Pugin

    Pugin Active Member with Corp. Privileges

    244
    United States
    New York
    NY
    Pics of a Canterbury sold by Al Baskin, a Chicago-area clothier:

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    Last edited: May 15, 2011

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