Spurs of the Moment
With curlicues and jinglebobs, these ornate accessories of the cowboy lifestyle are sought-after Western collectibles. And each pair has a story to tell.
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Top of the page. Left: Swan neck shanks were popular with California spur makers of the nineteenth century. Right-above: Crescent moons adorn these E. García spurs. Right-below: These matching eagles were designed by Jerry Galloway, of Dumas.
WHETHER JANGLING FROM A COWBOY’S HEEL as he shuffles around a dance hall or digging into a horse’s flank as it crests a hill, spurs have had a small but pointed part to play in the history of the West. Not only do they enable a rider to control his mount hands-free, they provide him with an opportunity, amid all the dust and grime of the drive, for a little flash and filigree. Collectors have long been drawn to the intricate designs—the detailed etching of the concho button on the bootstrap, the silver inlay work along the shank, the shape and style of the revolving rowel. Taken together these ornaments often depict scenes from a cowboy’s life, narrated to the spur maker and forged in iron and silver. Among aficionados of this folk art of the range, W. F. Reynolds, a Wichita Falls geologist, stood tall. His first spurs were a gift from his father; at the time of his death, in 2005, Reynolds had amassed one of the leading collections of spurs in the world—some 1,500 pairs. In a four-part sale, starting last March and ending next summer, that is being billed as the largest spur auction ever, the lot of them hit the trail again (a private collector in Bowie bought most of what was offered at the September sale and allowed us to photograph a representative sample). Jinglebobs ringing, rowels spinning, they carry their engravings to the next rendezvous.
Above left: Detail of a Mexican spur from Amozoc.
Above right: Two views of a pair of hand-forged spurs (c. 1920’s). The thickness of the shank is characteristic of some Colorado-style spurs. These were likely made by a metalworker for himself or a family member.
Above First Row Left to Right
JERRY WALLACE Madill, Oklahoma (c. 1970’s) • Spur maker Wallace is known for the fine finish of his designs.
DANNY POLLARD Anson (c. 1970’s) • Pollard’s spurs often feature designs depicting miniature Southwestern scenes.
J.W. PIERCE Texas (c. 1950’s) • This spur style, used by bullriders and known as “the Kent,” was originally designed by Wallie Boone.
MARKED “CASEY” Texas (c. 1970’s) • This style, made popular by spur maker Adolph Bayers, is favored by ropers nowadays.
Above Second Row Left to Right
MARKED “KENNEDY” Texas (c. 1980’s) • A cowboy may have requested the inlay on the shank to recall a stampede caused by lightning.
UNKNOWN MAKER Unknown (c. 1920’s) • Extremely large rowels distinguish the South American gaucho spur.
UNKNOWN MAKER Canon City prison, Colorado (c. 1930’s) • Inmates at Canon City often made this bird’s head motif at the ends of their shanks.
E. GARCIA Monterrey, Mexico (c. 1970’s) • Another typically ornate E. García spur. Note that even the rowels are inlaid with silver.
Above Third Row Left to Right
E. GARCIA Monterrey, Mexico (c. 1970’s) • A jeweler by trade, García is famed for his ornate style and fine attention to detail.
E. GARCIA Monterrey, Mexico (c. 1970’s) • The jinglebobs hanging from the rowel added jangly music to a cowboy’s stroll.
WAYNE PAUL Lipscomb (c. 1970’s ) • Paul’s spurs are prized for their intricate sterling silver inlay work.
UNKNOWN MAKER Unknown (c. 1900) • The strap with the crest of the Republic of Mexico on the concho button is probably not original to the spur.
JERRY WALLACE Madill, Oklahoma (c. 1970’s) • The gal-leg shank, peacock, and heart button are all original designs of legendary Texas spur maker J. R. McChesney, to whom Wallace here pays tribute.