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Anyone know antique western saddles?


ksdaddy

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KS...

 

I'm no expert, but there are a lotta those things of similar style where I live. I know there were a lot in that style, high cantle, etc., in the 1880s through the 1920s at least.

 

OTOH, some folks around here like to have new ones made to the old patterns. The general style makes me think it's roughly turn of the century though. I'm certainly no expert.

 

Who's the maker? That could help you track it down. There should be a maker's mark somewhere, even if it's been rebuilt.

 

The Tri-State Museum in Belle Fourche, SD, has quite a few from the open range days. Taught me how much I don't know about 'em. A good collection is at the Jim Gatchell Museum in Buffalo, Wyo., from roughly the same era and three-four hours west of me. One of the better ones likely is north of Buffalo a half hour at Sheridan, Wyo., King Saddlery and King Ropes. King ropes are really pretty popular around here. Eastern slope of the Big Horns.

 

http://www.kingropes.com/museum.htm

 

Doesn't show a whole lot of some 500+ saddles in the collection. You might note that the ropes are pretty complex just for work and rodeo stuff.

 

m

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Although I used to work in in a saddle/harness shop as a teen,I don't know a heck of a lot about saddles.I did notice that the style of the saddle is about the late 19th century,but judging by the amount of wear on it I doubt if it's any more than 50 years old at the most and just made in the style of the old western saddles.The gentleman I worked for was a saddle maker and made almost all his saddles-except for English riding and dressage- in this style but they were much more elaborate and could almost be classed as parade saddles.

 

BTW he also turned me on to Boulet boots,which are made in Quebec and are just plain incredible boots.I have 3 pairs of Boulet boots and 2 pairs are almost 40 years old and despite having the soles and heels replaced countless times the vamps and shafts are as good as new.My "newest" pair of Boulets are about 15 years old and are made of elk hide and are as comfortable as walking on air compared to other boots.

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Bonzo...

 

I agree that some of this style were still in use not just 50 years ago, but today. At least, around here. Although that's usually for show, it seems to me.

 

Dunno about the age by looking at the leather, though. There are some nice turn of the century saddles in the museum where I've been on the board that look in better shape, especially those given as gifts.

 

That's why I was suggesting looking at undersides of various bits and pieces to find a maker's mark. Not the stirrups though... Some makers even stamped a date; other makers can be dated by years of their shops.

 

m

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I've looked for a maker's label or stamp and can't find any. I'm guessing it's old but I can't substantiate it. I got it for $50 so it should be an easy flip.

 

The wear is not bad...and it seems to be a well made saddle. For $50, I'd say you stole it.

 

Do you live anywhere near a saddle/tack shop? Maybe someone there can give you a better idea, but I think you made some money on that.

There are a lot of online saddle sites that will certainly be more helpful to you...I think there may be enough money in it that you should do some research...might start here...

 

http://leatherworker.net/forum/index.php?showforum=60

 

 

 

mark

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Just got back from the museum here - several similar saddles, some with swells like yours, some slick fork.

 

No idea on value.

 

Here's some similar saddles in 1890 in one of the first businesses in Belle Fourche, SD - the town where John Wayne was driving his herd in the movie "The Cowboys."

 

http://rapidcityjournal.com/news/local/communities/belle_fourche/saddle-shop-had-big-role-in-early-belle-fourche/article_890dd95c-325b-525f-9033-c80cd3f0f966.html

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I wouldn't have guessed it anywhere near that old but saddles have changed so little over the years it's hard to tell. I would have guessed it 1950-1960? I don't think the cantle is all that high on this saddle. Most saddle makers put their logo on the area right above the cinch rigging or on the horn cap. Sometimes you can turn the saddle over and either right in the center or if you can lift some padding the tree maker will have their name. From that you may be able to find some records on when the saddle was made knowing the history of the tree maker.

 

You can often tell age to some degree by the tooling also but it's also hard to tell on this one. But it is older style. Of course, real old working saddles had none.

 

Speaking of which, this saddle appears to have no back cinch (although that could have been removed or lost) and does not have a huge roping horn. So this is more of a pleasure saddle than real rough stock working cowboy saddle.

 

Absolute pure speculation. \:D/

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At least by the time the herds got to where I live, tooling on saddles was common - even the working cowboy's saddle. If you look at the photo in the link posted above you can see that all the saddles on display had tooling - and they were going to working cowboys.

 

The horns weren't as big as today's on any of 'em back then, according to any I've seen.

 

A cinch or loose strap on the back wasn't necessarily common. As I understand it, lot of the roping was to the side as one would see in today's steer roping (known also as "steer tripping") competition.

 

The ropes of various sorts, also as I understand it, tended to have more stretch than what folks around here use nowadays either in competition or for work.

 

They'd take their dallies, but remember too that some of 'em were fairly slick on purpose. I have more than a cupla friends who are missing, or who have had appendages reconnected, with today's roping saddles and competition styles.

 

Brandings are still a major social and work thing around here.

 

Saddles also tended at a point to be kinda regional in some details. You can still kinda tell who around here bought a hat at a given store or from a given maker. I'm told current local saddle makers ditto.

 

This photo below - the cowboys themselves and the saddlery sign at right - don't show a second rear "cinch" or whatever. It's pre 1895 when most of the block was burned in a fire.

 

m

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Tooling may have been common but certainly not the rule. The ranch where I grew up on in the 50's I can not remember a tooled saddle. It was just an unnecessary, unpractical expense. And silly. But of course like anything if you were able to afford some tooling it was nice to show off.

 

Horns back then possibly were not as large in diameter but tended to be quite a bit higher. Cowboys back then used the same saddle for everything. You need that horn to be strong enough to hold a 1000 pound steer when you roped it. But it also had to be big enough that you could grab it quickly when bucking one out!

 

Today's saddles are, like everything, specialized. The ropers have really large diameter horns. And from there you have specialized saddles for reining (what my wife and I show in), cutting, barrel racing, western pleasure, the list goes on. And of course with specialization comes expense. It isn't uncommon today for a show saddle to cost upwards of $5000.

 

I absolutely guaranty you if you go to a steer roping, or I think the more common term today is team roping, you will not see a single entry without a back cinch. It is suicide to not have a back cinch.

 

And in your picture there is only one horse where you can see whether or not there is a back cinch and I have identified with an arrow the back cinch.

 

saddles.jpg

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I've gotta be the world's worst horseman since I was brought up with machines, but my "horse" photography has mostly been rodeo stuff since the '60s 'stedda reining competition and such.

 

Ain't been on a horse since '65 and was a lousy rider then. Luckily Grandpa Walker wasn't around to see it. He ran with a horse trade bunch in the late '80s, early '90s. Never learned to drive a car although he did get on a tractor on occasion.

 

Anyway... I've been on a cupla "western" museum type boards (still am on one), and on a cupla PRCA committees, so my perspectives may be a little different from most folks.

 

Actually I wasn't talking team roping by the way. I'm talking steer trippin'. It's probably the oldest version of roping sport in rodeo - but it requires a lotta room for the steer to run for the roper to set up the trip.

 

Steer roping is recognized by the PRCA, but it's kinda the red-haired stepchild 'cuz city folks tend not to like it much and not so many of today's arenas can really handle it, either. Too small.

 

One roper, one steer; the roper gets his loop on the horns, then in theory flips the rope over the steer's hip and rides at an angle to the direction of the steer, thus tripping him. Then he dismounts and ties the feet as in calf "tiedown" roping that's on the usual PRCA menu.

 

Badlands circuit steer roping finals are again at Deadwood at the end of this month. A pretty good steer roping was the opening event for the Black Hills Roundup again this year. National steer roping finals ain't with the December indoor NFR.

 

The photo "saddles5" is from the 1920s as ropers warmed up horses for competition. "Saddles3" is earlier than that and is one of the ranch girls showing off a bit at the Tri-State Roundup in the earlier era of rodeo.

 

Just one cinch.

 

I don't have enough room on my forum upload to show the shot of Yakima Canutt with the locals, Tipperary and the horse he's led by. Just one cinch pretty much set up as on the OP's photo. It's after Yak was the first to ride old Tip. The rule was to use a regular saddle, squeeze Tip in between two riders for the "rider" to get on board, (no chute used) then ride him to a quit. Losing a stirrup was disqualification. No fair sticking spurs into the cinch. Leonard Stroud and Sam Brownell, Earl Thode, etc., all lost to Tip.

 

A buddy-artist, Mick B. Harrison, who did a nice painting of Tip at Camp Crook, really researched him and figured that Tip would get going so the rider'd figure he was going over backward which brought the cowboy's natural response to kick loose - thus disqualifying himself.

 

There's a shot of Yak at the Roundup apparently using what I've been told were one type of the pre WWI "Cheyenne rules" (no chute) with Rainbow - and the photo indicates the horse from which he mounted Rainbow had a single, front attached cinch.

 

I've another of Goldie Daugherty on a paint that I colorized for print. There's dangley-down stuff from the saddle as was typical for the old style saddles around here, but no second cinch.

 

I'm not saying what folks may or should do today, but there's too much evidence that a single forward cinch was awful common around here in the open range days.

 

It looks to me that there was a tendency to let various leather straps used to tie stuff behind the cantle just stay there and hang down, 'cuz you'd want the ties still there for the ride home.

 

m

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Brun...

 

Yup, and there isn't much left of it... So much population density and regulation nowadays that there's a tendency to think more like folks in more crowded countries. Even Nebraska, for example, where there are some nice open spaces, is "old" in the sense that it has a century and a half history of city folks east of the Sand Hills seeming to want more law and rules 'stedda being more free like Wyoming, southeast Montana and West River South Dakota.

 

Nebraskans shoulda known something was lost when Ed Lemmon headed north. <grin> He was a heck of a roper, btw. Ed had a record with cattle given he once cut, roped and brought 900 cattle to the branding fire in a single day. For what it's worth, he also wrote quite well and did a newspaper column for a few years. With virtually no formal schooling as I recall.

 

Which leads into:

 

I tend to believe in the frontier pressure valve theory one finds in concepts raised by Frederick Jackson Turner.

 

City folk raised in more settled society, of course, tended in the more urbanized and anti-everything 1960s, to disagree rather violently with Turner and suggest instead it's a dialectic among races and "gender" and such - and emphasize what they considered the dark side of the coin.

 

That fits well enough with similar social theories of that era in academic environments, but I think those "historians" had never lived through a good blizzard on the plains even with a nice car to sit in, or they might have been more willing to agree with Turner.

 

Most also had never read Oscar Micheaux, either, which might have shone light on the frontier experience by non-white folks too, that put their experience more in line with Turner. E.g., it's a recognition that if you freeze to death, burn in a prairie fire, or die in a horse wreck 10 miles from any other human being, your color, gender and ethnicity are rather irrelevant.

 

m

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A good way to age saddle is check out the Conchos and other fittings though they can be replaced usually the old one's don't get replaced because they are silver not tin, so look for hand work vs stamping and look for any makers marks on the Silver-work also. Also can you tell if the cinch ring is forged or machined that sometimes can tell you something also. The makers mark will usually be burned into the underside of the ridge or Stamped in under the skirts.

 

Unless you can find a name it's hard to tell saddles can be around forever if cared for and maintained, and as Milod and others have said period saddles are still made every day. you can get lucky finds though when I was a teenager I had a saddle that came with a horse we bought i rode it for several years until I was helping wrangler stock at a kids part of a big rodeo and one of the pro cowboys walked up and asked if he could look at my saddle, I said sure and climbed off he pulled it from the horse rolled it onto it blanket looking at the wooden ridge up inside and he pointed out a name/makers mark and said thought so and named a price he thought it might be worth and gave me a few names of people who would buy it in a heartbeat and I was shocked because as it turned out the saddle was worth a lot more than the horse it was on and even the truck that trailered it there. What surprised me the most was the saddle had very little decoration or silver work just mostly plain leather with a simple trim as it was clearly a working saddle not a parade or rodeo rig. It's all about the makers name and now I can't remember the name but it was Humley or Hammler form-fit or something like that and the saddle was in it's stock original leather from the 20's or 30's and worth over 5k which was a lot of money to a 16 year old kid in the mid 70's. I could have maybe gotten more, but the cowboy that had recognized it offered me 3,500 dollars a different saddle that though newer fit me a lot better as the old one was much smaller than my nether regions needed even back then and two very nice ropes, one a standard working rope and the other a fancy spanish style woven rope as we called them back then, as well a good bareback rig which was what I rode at the time so I was thrilled. The bag the saddle the guy gave me the saddle in had three rodeo buckles in the bottom of the bag guess after winning enough of them they were less important than the prize money to get to the next show, the saddle is long gone but I still have two of his buckles along with one I won for myself.

 

That 4k replaced a truck that though I loved it, was about double my age and used almost as much oil as gasoline so it was a good deal for me and kept me mobile all the way into my college age.

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Like guit tars, the devil may be in the details. Can you get into the under side of it. What is the form made of? Wood? Plastic?

 

As far as the tooling goes, I talked to a collector of Civil War memorabilia. Most soldiers traps, boots, holsters, belts, even wooden canteens were plain and un adorned. There are some very fancily carved and tooled examples. One may think the fancier equipment were that of officers. To the contrary, the foot soldier probably was the one that modified his leather goods. This is because he had the time. Between the marchin' and shootin' and dying, there was a lot of sitting around waitin' for the officers to decide what they should do next. Time was passed by decorating. Most officers were too busy to make their equipment fancy.

 

It is possible a cowboy, at some point, did his own tooling.

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Yes, cowboys famously did do a lot of their own "crafts" for everything they'd have except the basics. Tom Horn, for example, supposedly did quite a bit while he was awaiting his hanging. There's a photo famous by some criteria of him braiding a rope for a friend.

 

OTOH, As I noted and is obvious in the 1890 saddle shop photo for the town that became quickly the nation's largest livestock shipping railhead, there was tooling on the leather of the saddles on sale as relatively standard items. It's not that hard for a pro, especially, to stamp the decoration seen for example on the saddle shown above. I'm not a pro and likely could do it in an hour or two if I were BSing at the time. But my skills are pretty much limited to guitar straps, belts and knife sheaths. No way would I attempt a saddle. I'd be far better off trying to do a full 90-minute classical guitar concert.

 

Braiding ropes, doing horsehair braiding for hatbands, etc., etc., etc., were cowboy bunkhouse hobbies.

 

Also, on the Northern Plains open range areas, there actually was some pretty decent money in the 1890s. Not only were there cattle and sheep to be sold (sheep's yet another tale), the horse business did pretty well too. Perhaps better on the longer run.

 

Fort Meade and, to the south, Fort Robinson, still were regularly buying horses. In fact, that military horse market was huge, and in ways was a huge impetus to the beginning rodeo biz. Buffalo Bill's show influenced all kinds of locally-organized events and, in fact, in Cheyenne even played a role.

 

Again, there were huge regional variations in "cowboy" gear. Some of the early rodeo riders might have worn a tight sweater and jodhpurs stedda what you see in rodeo today. Girls did rough stock until a death or two. The events as we see them today were not what they did in the teens, 20s and 30s. Heck, imagine having a wolfer let a wolf free in the unfenced arena and then let his dogs go after it to kill it for the audience. Imagine a "cowboy" using a jumping saddle and hopping over a touring car with passengers in it. (Leonard Stroud)

 

All I can say with some certainty is that a saddle shop in my community circa 1890-95 would have had saddles ready for sale that all had tooling and were mostly with a single cinch more or less at what they'd today call a 3/4 positioning.

 

Street rodeos... heck, that was common here too in the '90s. And if you see the pix, basically everybody's wearing a suit except the kid on the horse. Hats? A big explosion of "cowboy" hats came as just regular brimmed hat-hats got influenced by the early movies to get bigger and more turned up brims.

 

Oh, rodeo saddle bronc riding? One trick was to have the saddle set up so the rider could hook his spurs into the cinch. He might get rolled on, but he wasn't coming off easily and the variations of rules saw some contests with famed horses continuing to where the rider fell, fouled or the horse just kinda quit.

 

Truly a different world. Again, it also was very much a regional world. They tell me that even today there are some technical differences in cattle ranch work in the Sandhills and south central Dakota compared to the Montana-Wyoming-Dakota region. Clear into the teens cowboys might have been wearing angora or sheepskin chaps, too. No chinks (shorter length chaps) for those guys in any of the pix I've seen in several museum collections... nor buckaroo boots in the turn of the century era.

 

m

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If it is, here's some info on the company.

 

http://www.purecowboy.us/Hess%20&%20Hopkins%20Rockford,%20Illinois%20Vintage%20Saddle.htm

 

Or

 

http://www.vintagegunleather.com/company-marks/hess_hopkins_history.html

 

They should give you an idea of what the maker's stamps looked like.

 

If it's a correct assessment, it's a relatively "mass market" product as opposed to the local saddlery that may or may not have had an individual craftsman doing his own thing and perhaps creating a very valuable work of art.

 

A much more modern style Hess and Hopkins has had sale offerings at around $1,600.

 

It'd take an expert on valuing these things - I'm just into getting local antique saddles into our museum rather than figuring the cash values.

 

Regardless, I'd still say that for $50 you have a steal of a neat piece. As handy as you are, you may wanna build a saddle rack, perhaps even on wheels, for it somewhere...

 

m

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...

 

Fort Meade and, to the south, Fort Robinson, still were regularly buying horses. In fact, that military horse market was huge, and in ways was a huge impetus to the beginning rodeo biz. Buffalo Bill's show influenced all kinds of locally-organized events and, in fact, in Cheyenne even played a role.

 

Again, there were huge regional variations in "cowboy" gear. Some of the early rodeo riders might have worn a tight sweater and jodhpurs stedda what you see in rodeo today. Girls did rough stock until a death or two. The events as we see them today were not what they did in the teens, 20s and 30s.

 

...

 

Sorry about the late bump. Haven't been on here in days. This is my mother in her rodeo outfit. Don't have a date on this but assuming she is about 18 in this it would put this about 1940. And you see the jodhpurs you described.

 

She broke a lot of horses and sold them. I don't remember her specifically saying she sold them to Fort Robinson but that would make sense as it wasn't too far away. I know she sold some to the Rosebud tribe. And she was one of the women that actual rode rough stock in rodeos. She grew up on the Rosebud reservation in South Dakota but was real close to the Nebraska border. They got their mail from Cody, Nebraska, and did their shopping there. Most of the rodeos she competed in were in Nebraska.

 

Mom Cowgirl Outfit.jpg

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Brun...

 

Yup, and there isn't much left of it... So much population density and regulation nowadays that there's a tendency to think more like folks in more crowded countries. Even Nebraska, for example, where there are some nice open spaces, is "old" in the sense that it has a century and a half history of city folks east of the Sand Hills seeming to want more law and rules 'stedda being more free like Wyoming, southeast Montana and West River South Dakota.

 

Nebraskans shoulda known something was lost when Ed Lemmon headed north. <grin> He was a heck of a roper, btw. Ed had a record with cattle given he once cut, roped and brought 900 cattle to the branding fire in a single day. For what it's worth, he also wrote quite well and did a newspaper column for a few years. With virtually no formal schooling as I recall.

 

Which leads into:

 

I tend to believe in the frontier pressure valve theory one finds in concepts raised by Frederick Jackson Turner.

 

City folk raised in more settled society, of course, tended in the more urbanized and anti-everything 1960s, to disagree rather violently with Turner and suggest instead it's a dialectic among races and "gender" and such - and emphasize what they considered the dark side of the coin.

 

That fits well enough with similar social theories of that era in academic environments, but I think those "historians" had never lived through a good blizzard on the plains even with a nice car to sit in, or they might have been more willing to agree with Turner.

 

Most also had never read Oscar Micheaux, either, which might have shone light on the frontier experience by non-white folks too, that put their experience more in line with Turner. E.g., it's a recognition that if you freeze to death, burn in a prairie fire, or die in a horse wreck 10 miles from any other human being, your color, gender and ethnicity are rather irrelevant.

 

m

 

Ha! Your very first clause with the hanging ellipsis conjured up the Turner Thesis in my peashooter. Hey, y'all are bad dudes up North, no doubt; we get our share of treacherous weather down South in New Orleans & the Gulf Coast too... a heterogeneous ethnic mix at various stages of melding/assimilation, to your point. Just to keep things colorful & people guessing, what the hell. Y'know Milo, I hope you're mentoring a protege. Like I always said, "Don't sing it - Bring it!"

 

Best to y'all from just another hurricane party.

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