I purchased another antique belt buckle off of eBay:
Photos taken after polishing, by the way. The buckle still had its original varnish coat, and had a patina underneath. The markings on the back of the buckle intrigued me: a central star, with the name "Laurie" on one side and an obliterated area on the other, where a name or word had been removed with a grinder. Aha, a mystery, I though to myself. I pictured a cute blonde hippie chick named "Laurie" who had carved the wax model of the belt buckle.
I looked on the internet, and found that the cute blonde hippie chick was actually a man still alive, and his company was the Star Buckle Company of Spinnerstown, Pennsylvania. Apparently Mr. Laurie started his business with a buckle in the shape of a peace symbol, and it took off from there. He does other stuff now, of course, since hippie belt buckles had a limited popularity and eventually went out of fashion.
Still... to be able to dig out this information with just a few clicks on a keyboard... amazing. It would have taken a major investment in time and money to research this in pre-computer days.
Don't ever say we aren't living in the future.