Hesston Belt Buckle History


The First Hesston Buckle (1974)


The Hesston Company commissioned their first buckle in 1974 which was mostly given away to employees, good customers, and relatives of employees. This was a plain brass buckle with Hesston written boldly across the front and no association with the rodeo. Fewer than 15,000 buckles were made that year by Ruebrow Manufacturing, Brooklyn, NY and Hesston had some of these buckle on hand for years to come (turned out to be difficult to distribute). That plain 74 Hesston buckle today is today valued at over a thousand dollars by the serious buckle collectors across the nation!

The 1974 "rookie" Hesston buckle was a relatively plain buckle with Hesston written boldly across the buckle and had no association with the rodeo as most other Hesston buckles later did.


1974-First Issue of the Hesston Buckle
(today valued at over $1,000.00 to collectors)

Fewer than 15,000 buckles were made in 1974 by Ruebrow Manufacturing, Brooklyn, NY and Hesston had some of these buckle on hand for years to come (turned out to be difficult to distribute). That plain 74 Hesston buckle today is today valued at over a thousand dollars by the serious buckle collectors across the nation!

Because of the high value placed on the 1974 Hesston buckle by buckle collectors, at least two imitation buckles were released in the 1980's (one is stamped Taiwan and is easy to spot. The second is a pretty decent replica of the Hesston version but the back looks different if you know what you're looking for.


Original 1974 Hesston buckle on the left; pretty good replica on the right.

The 75 Hesston Buckle-The First Classic Rodeo Edition


In 1975, Hesston decided to issue a second buckle, this one designed by Limited Edition Designer, Bill Manley (who also designed the Hesston Buckle until 1985). Approximately 75,000 of the Limited Edition 1975 Hesston buckles which were approved by the PRC Rodeo Association was produced by Lewis Buckle Co. of Chicago. This is the Second limited Collector's Buckle, 2nd cowboy classic rodeo edition. The buckle is stamped on the back "Commemorating the 2nd annual network telecast Decembere 13, 1975 from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Sponsored exclusively by Hesston Corporation and participating Hesston Farm Equipment Dealers". The front has "1975 National Finals Rodeo" and Hesston in large letters, plus a chute dogging event. 3 1/8" x 2 3/8" for up to a 1 3/4" belt. Brass color, rectangular shape. This was one of the earliest buckles and is smaller and has a different look than later ones. Designed by Bill Manley and manufactured at Lewis Buckle Co. of Chicago.

The 1976 Hesston buckle was designed by Bill Manley and manufactured at the A&E Die Casting, Gardenia, California. This is the Third limited Collector's Buckle, 2nd cowboy classic rodeo edition. The buckle is stamped on the back "Commemorating the 3rd annual network telecast in 1976 from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Sponsored exclusively by Hesston Corporation and participating Hesston Farm Equipment Dealers". The front has "1976 National Finals Rodeo" and Hesston in large letters, plus a cowboy saddle bronc rider and horse. 3 1/8" x 2 3/8" for up to a 1 3/4" belt. Brass color, rectangular shape. Approximately 125,000 of the Limited Edition 1976 Hesston buckles were manufactured by A&E Die Casting, Gardenia, CA.

The 1977 Hesston buckle was the first of the oval-shaped Hesston buckle designs. The 1977 Hesston buckle was designed by Bill Manley and manufactured at Cast Products, Chicago, IL. Approximately 150,000 of the 77 Hesston buckles were produced in 1977. That same year, Hesston commissioned their first numbered silver buckle distributed as Dealer incentives. The 1977 buckle is the Fourth limited Collector's Buckle, 3rd cowboy classic rodeo edition. The buckle is stamped on the back "Commemorating the 4th annual network telecast from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Sponsored exclusively by Hesston Corporation and participating Hesston Farm Equipment Dealers". The front has "1977 National Finals Rodeo" and Hesston in large letters, plus a bull rider. 3 3/8" x 2 3/8" for up to a 1 3/4" belt. Brass color, oval shape. The 1977 was the Ist one to be oval shaped. Also, 1977 was the only year for a license plate promoting Professional Rodeo made available only to Territory Managers and Dealers.

The 1978 Hesston buckle was the Fifth limited Collector's Buckle, 4th cowboy classic rodeo edition. and was again manufactured by Cast Products of Chicago in quantities of around 150,000. The buckle is stamped on the back "Commemorating the 5th annual network telecast from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Sponsored exclusively by Hesston Corporation and participating Hesston Farm Equipment Dealers". The front has "78 National Finals Rodeo" and Hesston in large letters, calf roper. 3 3/8" x 2 3/8" for up to a 1 3/4" belt. Brass color, oval shape. This was one of the earliest buckles and is smaller and has a different look than later ones. Designed by Bill Manley and manufactured at Cast Products, Chicago, IL.

The 1979 Hesston buckle was also manufactured by Cast Products of Chicago. This is the Sixth limited Collector's Buckle, 5th cowboy classic rodeo edition. The buckle is stamped on the back "Commemorating the 6th annual network telecast from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Sponsored exclusively by Hesston Corporation and participating Hesston Farm Equipment Dealers". The front has "1979 National Finals Rodeo" and Hesston in large letters, bareback rider and horse. 3 3/8" x 2 3/8" for up to a 1 3/4" belt. Brass color, oval shape.

The 1980 Hesston buckle was the sixth edition of Rodeo Series. This is the Seventh limited Collector's Buckle, 6th cowboy classic rodeo edition. The buckle is stamped on the back "Commemorating the 7th annual network telecast from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Sponsored by Hesston Corporation and participating Hesston Farm Equipment Dealers". The front has "National Finals Rodeo" and Hesston in large letters, with two cowboys doing a team roping event. 3 3/8" x 2 1/2" for up to a 1 3/4" belt. Brass color, oval shape.

The 1981 Hesston buckle was the seventh in the Rodeo Series. This is the Eighth limited Collector's Buckle, 7th cowboy classic rodeo edition. The buckle is stamped on the back "Commemorating the 8th annual network telecast from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Sponsored by Hesston Corporation and participating Hesston Farm Equipment Dealers". The front has "National Finals Rodeo" and Hesston in large letters, with two rodeo clowns, a bull and a barrel. 3 1/2" x 2 1/2" for up to a 1 3/4" belt. Brass color, oval shape.

The 1982 Hesston buckle was the eighth final cowboy Classic edition buckle. This buckle was gold/bronze in color and had the phrase, All Aound Cowboy, across the top of the buckle.This is the 8th Classic Cowboy Rodeo Series. "Eighth edition collector's buckle, Commemorating the 9th annual network telecast from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, sponsored exclusively by Hesston Corporation and participating Hesston farm equipment dealers". The front has "National Finals Rodeo - 1982 Hesston - All Around Cowboy" with a cowboy carrying a saddle along with calf wrestling and bronc riding. 3 3/4" x 2 7/8" for up to a 1 1/2" belt.

In 1983, Hesston produced a buckle design commemorating the 25th anniversary of the National Finals Rodeo (this was the last Hesston buckle designed by Bill Manley). This is the tenth limited Collector's Buckle, 25th Anniversary first edition. The buckle is stamped on the back "Commemorating the 10th annual network telecast of the National Finals Rodeo, sponsored by Hesston Corporation and participating Hesston Farm Equipment Dealers". The front has "Hesston, 25th Anniversary Series 59-83" with a bareback rider and a bull rider. 3 3/4" x 3"" for up to a 1 3/4" belt. In 1983 Award Design Metal (ADM) made the first Sterling Silver and 24 karat gold plated buckle and the first youth Hesston buckle, which came with a belt. (Youth buckles have been produced every year since).

In 1983 and 1984, Hesston cast the buckles and Award Design Metals finished them. ADM also produced the dies.This is the Eleventh limited Collector's Buckle,second anniversary edition. The buckle is stamped on the back "Designed and signed by Fred Fellows commemorating the 11th annual network telecast of the National Finals Rodeo, sponsored by Hesston Corporation and participating Hesston Farm Equipment Dealers". The front has "National Finals Rodeo - NFR 1984 Hesston" with floral design and a saddle bronc rider. 3 3/4" x 3"" for up to a 1 3/4" belt.

In late 1984, Award Design Metal bought the Hesston Buckle machine and has produced the Hesston buckles ever since.

The 1984 through 1989 Hesston Buckles were designed by Fred Fellow. The 1985 buckle is the Twelfth limited Collector's Buckle, third anniversary edition. The buckle is stamped on the back "Designed and signed by Fred Fellows commemorating the 12th annual network telecast of the National Finals Rodeo, sponsored by Hesston Corporation and participating Hesston Farm Equipment Dealers". The front has "National Finals Rodeo - NFR 1985 Hesston" with floral design and a calf roping event. 3 3/4" x 3"" for up to a 1 3/4" belt.

The 1986 buckle is the Thirteenth limited Collector's Buckle, 4th annivesary edition. The bucke is stamped on the back "Designed and signed by Fred Fellows commorating the 13th annual network telecast of the National Finals Rode, sponsored by Hesston Corporation and participating Hesston Farm Equipment Dealers". The front has "National Finals Rodeo - NFR 1986 Hesston" with floral design and bareback rider. 3 3/4" x 2 3/4" for up to a 1 3/4" belt.

The 1987 buckle is the Fourteenth limited Collector's Buckle, fifth anniversary edition. The buckle is stamped on the back "Designed and signed by Fred Fellows commemorating the 14th annual network telecast of the National Finals Rodeo, sponsored by Hesston Corporation and participating Hesston Farm Equipment Dealers". The front has "National Finals Rodeo - NFR 1987 Hesston" with floral design and two cowboys in a team roping event. 3 3/4" x 3"" for up to a 1 3/4" belt. Gray color, rectangular shape. Made by Award Design Medals in Noble, Oklahoma.

The 1988 buckle is the Fifteenth limited Collector's Buckle, sixth anniversary edition. The buckle is stamped on the back "Designed and signed by Fred Fellows commemorating the 30th annual network telecast of the National Finals Rodeo, sponsored by Hesston Corporation and participating Hesston Farm Equipment Dealers". The front has "National Finals Rodeo - NFR 1988 Hesston" with floral design and a cowboy riding a bucking bull. 3 3/4" x 3"" for up to a 1 3/4" belt. Gray color, oval shape. Made by Award Design Medals in Noble, Oklahoma.

In 1989, Hesston produced two buckle designs and closed out the Hesston Anniversary Series buckles. The 1989 buckle is the Sixteenth limited Collector's Buckle, 7th anniversary edition. The buckle is stamped on the back "Designed and signed by Fred Fellows commemorating the 16th annual network telecast of the National Finals Rodeo, sponsored by Hesston Corporation and participating Hesston Farm Equipment Dealers". The front has "National Finals Rodeo - NFR 1989 Hesston" with floral design and a cow wrestling event. 3 3/4" x 3"" for up to a 1 3/4" belt. The second, limited edition 89 Hesston design features a barrel racer.

The 1990 Hesston buckle was the first edition of the Hesston National Finals Commemorative Series. This buckle was designed and produced by ADM. This is the Seventeenth limited Collector's Buckle, the first Hesston Commemorative Series. The buckle is stamped on the back "Hesston 1990 NFR Commemorative Series. Limited Collection Buckle. Designed and signed by Award Design Medals. Commemorating the 17th annual network telecast of the National Finals Rodeo, sponsored by Hesston Corporation and participating Hesston Farm Equipment Dealers". The front has "National Finals Rodeo - NFR 1990 Hesston" with floral design and the words "Hesston Fiatagri" plus a bareback bronc rider. 3 3/4" x 3"" for up to a 1 3/4" belt. Gray color, rectangular shape. Made by Award Design Medals in Noble, Oklahoma.

The 1991 Hesston buckle is the Eighteenth limited Collector's Buckle, 2nd in the Hesston Commemorative Series. The front has "1991 National Finals Rodeo" with floral design, bull rider, and the word "Hesston". 3 3/4" x 3"" for up to a 1 3/4" belt. the second buckle in the Commemorative Series, designed and produced by Award Design Medals in Noble, Oklahoma.

Note: In 1991, Hesston sold out to AGCO, a German based company, and a new company named AGCO Corporation was founded on June 20, 1990 with its headquarters just outside Atlanta, Georgia. AGCO Corporation has its roots in the global farm equipment industry with its heritage reaching as far back as the mid 1800s through many of its brands. However, its direct lineage is from the North American Allis-Chalmers Company. This innovative leader in the field of agriculture sold its farm equipment division to the German company Klockner-Humboldt-Deutz (KHD) in 1985 during a period of industry consolidation. After the historic fall of Communism in 1989, KHD sold the company then known as Deutz-Allis to a management buyout group. The new company was named AGCO Corporation and began on June 20, 1990 with its headquarters just outside Atlanta, Georgia. Today, AGCO is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol �AG� and as a public company boasts of shareholders worldwide. Hesston brand products continued to be manufactured under the Hesston brand name after it's acquisition by AGCO.

The 1992 Hesston buckle is the Nineteenth limited Collector's Buckle, the 3rd Hesston Commemorative series. The buckle is stamped on the back "Hesston 1992 NFR Commemorative Series. Limited Collection Buckle. Designed and signed by Award Design Medals. Commemorating the 19th annual network telecast of the National Finals Rodeo, sponsored by Hesston Corporation and participating Hesston Farm Equipment Dealers". The front has "National Finals Rodeo - NFR 1992 Hesston" with floral design and the words "Hesston AGCO" plus a calf roper. 3 3/4" x 3"" for up to a 1 3/4" belt.

The 1993 Hesston buckle was the fourth buckle in the Commemorative series produced by ADM.

1994 Hesston buckle, designed by Carl Bascom was the fifth buckle in the Commemorative Series designed and produced by ADM.

In 1997, Hesston produced a NFR buckle, and also a buckle for the 50th anniversary of Hesston equipment. In 1998, there were two buckles produced as part of the NFR series: a bronc rider and a women barrel racer.

Hesston buckles continue to be issued each year with the latest issue being the 2019 Hesston buckle.


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