Championship Belts: Some of the Terms You need to Know when Buying a Quality Belt
Dual plating refers to the 2 tone look of the belt. Usually the entire belt is nickle plated, then certain areas are masked off and gold plated. When the masking is removed, the nickle will show in some spots and gold in others. Another method is to brush plate the raised areas in gold, while the “etched” spots show nickle.
Examples of dual plated belts: UFC, Big Gold, Hogan 86, Andre 87, UWF TV.
Relief plates/pieces are separate pieces stacked to create extra height and depth. For example, the IWGP belt has 3-4 stacked pieces of zinc. Relief pieces can also be any stacked piece, such as the fans on the tip of the Hulk Hogan Winged Eagle, the globe and crown on the Big Gold, a removable nameplate, etc.
Tooling refers to the hand made impressions put into the leather strap of a belt. This comes from the old saddle makers and leather workers. In the belt world, every leather person has their own unique style, but sometimes we refer to belts as having “Midwest Tooling” or “JMar Tooling” styles. Midwest tooling has a lot more detail put in the strap, where JMar tooling is more simple and easier to do. Collectors who get replica belts releathered usually want the belt to look like the one used on TV, so while most people prefer Midwest style tooling, it might look funny on a JMar belt.
You as a customer have the option to have any style tooling applied to your belt, or you can allow me free reign to custom tool the belt.
Lacing vs Stitching
Laced belts feature leather lace braided in a specific pattern (there are numerous ones), around the edge of a belt. This is a very advanced and time consuming feature, thus it’s an added expense.
Examples of a laced belt would be the NWA Domed Globe or the NWA Junior Heavyweight belt.
A stitched belt features black or colored stitching around the border of the belt, or along the border of reliefed leather pieces. This can be done by hand or machine.
Examples are the Big Gold and Pride Grand Prix belts.
Backing is a piece of leather or other fabric on the back of the belt used to cover the bolts. Normally this is black leather. Sometimes different colors or textured prints can be used.
Examples of other backings include the snakeskin backing on the Smoking Skull, red croc print on the blue WWF Big Eagle or lambskin backing on boxing belts.
Color of the Leather Strap
Black is the standard, but other colors are available and can cost more money due to materials. Just be aware of the differences when choosing a color.
Dark colors tend to work better and last longer. These dyes are usually oil based and take to the strap much more naturally. When you get into colors, you have some options. Some people will use a water or oil based leather dye, which will soak into the leather.
Depending on the color, it might absorb more in some places than others, which can leave blotches. This tends to happen more in lower quality leather that might have more fat, brand marks, scarring, etc. In order to avoid this, if you request a colored strap, I will airbrush the color in order to achieve a uniform, even color pattern.
Lighter Colors: For the most bright, uniform, vibrant color, you would want to go with a topical. Topicals sit on the surface of the leather, they do not soak/absorb into the leather. Because of this, belt straps that use topicals need to be handled with care. (IE: White, Yellow, Baby Blue, Lavender).
With heavy use and wear, these straps will have surface cracking and if improperly handled, can start flaking off. *ALL belts done with topical colors will show signs of cracking*
After color, your strap will have a clear coat applied. This will seal in the color, add a sheen, and protect the strap. A properly done strap should never fade, or need touching up unless it is being heavily used in the ring as a prop.
Floppiness of the Strap
Floppy is not better. The belts on TV have floppy straps because simply put, wrestlers treat the belts like garbage. They are broken in quickly, take abuse, and are replaced frequently because of this. The stock straps on replicas are too stiff. Any solid leather strap will be floppy.
If you will not be using your belt in the ring, you will want your strap stiff enough to support the weight of the plates. Using a super floppy strap will not help this. When people want a floppy strap, that usually means using a thinner weight leather, which isn’t necessarily better. If you want it more floppy, you can work the strap as such to your liking.