Cardinals5

Honors Member
3,854
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.


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


Reverse of buckle


Leather wrapped and stitched through the wool strap



Reverse of the belt


Reverse of the belt showing the stitching through the wool


Comparing the thickness to a regular wool surcingle
 

fishertw

Super Member
1,987
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
 

Pugin

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
244
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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.
 

Cardinals5

Honors Member
3,854
United States
SC
Greenville
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.
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.
 

Pugin

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
244
United States
New York
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I remember to look for them occasionally, but one has to skim through so many crappy Canterbury belts that it gets daunting.
Yep. I watch them closely, and that's the first such belt I've seen on the Bay since July.
 

bd79cc

Super Member
1,711
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.
 

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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Roderick St. John

Starting Member
20
United States
Indiana
Noblesville
When I was in jr. high and high school in the late sixties Canterbury surcingle belts were it, along with the Royden Shot Gun shell belt. The more colors I could get the better...

BTW, I still have hanging in my closet Canterbury Navy/Bright Red and Navy/Tan that I bought at Roderick St. John's in Indy... they're a little small for me now. :)
 

Billax

Super Member
1,126
Durham, NC & San Francisco, CA
United States
North Carolina
Durham
When I was in jr. high and high school in the late sixties Canterbury surcingle belts were it, along with the Royden Shot Gun shell belt. The more colors I could get the better...

BTW, I still have hanging in my closet Canterbury Navy/Bright Red and Navy/Tan that I bought at Roderick St. John's in Indy... they're a little small for me now. :)
Well, if they're in size 34, I'd be happy to help you cull the herd! :)
 

Christophe

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
229
United States
RI
Providence
When I was in jr. high and high school in the late sixties Canterbury surcingle belts were it, along with the Royden Shot Gun shell belt. The more colors I could get the better...

BTW, I still have hanging in my closet Canterbury Navy/Bright Red and Navy/Tan that I bought at Roderick St. John's in Indy... they're a little small for me now. :)
And if they are near 30, I would most definitely be interested!
 

DFPyne

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
324
United States
New York
Westchester
The belt buckle on the Canterbery belts are very similar to the buckles that Preston Leather uses today. They are a little rounder then I prefer but distinctive nevertheless.
 

dkoernert

Senior Member
804
United States
Virginia
Newport News
I've picked up a few Canterburys on the exchange thanks to this thread. I must say, they are without a doubt some of my favorite belts. They are pretty old, but are wearing better than many brand new belts I have purchased from other makers.