California Saddle, ca. 1850
Appraised Value: $5,000
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (2:14)
Director, American Indian and Ethnographic Art
GUEST: My aunt had bought it from a friend, somewhere between 40 and 50 years ago.
APPRAISER: Did you ride it when you were a kid?
GUEST: No, I never did. We always were kind of promised that someday the horse would be there and we'd get to ride my Aunt Ruthie's saddle, but it wasn't really a riding saddle.
APPRAISER: Well, that's actually very good that you didn't ride it. Do you know anything about it, its history, where it was made?
GUEST: I really don't know any history other than what we could tell of the maker's mark. My aunt was living in North Dakota when she purchased it.
APPRAISER: Okay, it's a beautiful saddle, but it's a long way from the Dakotas. It's actually a classic early California-style saddle.
APPRAISER: This was the type of saddle that the Spanish Californians were using from the 1830s, right up to when this country took it over. It has a maker's mark, and it's very hard to decipher, but I was able to get "San Francisco" and "Makers."
APPRAISER: Stylistically, this is a Mexican-style saddle, made in Winchester. It was probably the only early-California saddle maker at this period. This is an 1850s saddle.
APPRAISER: Before that, they wouldn't have been marked with a maker's mark. There's been some damage. Was the horn silver when you got it?
GUEST: As far as I can remember, it was. I'm a little suspicious, because the gentleman that made the base that they were on for quite a few years has some silver paint on it, too.
APPRAISER: Oh, really, on the base.
GUEST: On the side you're on, I believe.
APPRAISER: Yes, and the stirrups have been painted silver, too.
APPRAISER: Those could be original. It's hard to say. I'd have to do some study on that.
GUEST: Oh, okay.
APPRAISER: But, you know, the paint needs to come off.
APPRAISER: It's got its original cinch, which is really rare for this period of saddle.
GUEST: Oh, okay.
APPRAISER: It's a beautiful early California-style saddle, and probably, in this condition, unrestored, I think at auction it would probably bring about $5,000.
APPRAISER: But I think if you fixed it up, and it wouldn't take much doing-- get the paint off of it, there's a little separation of the rawhide cantle-- restored, a $10,000 saddle.
GUEST: Really. Wow. That's great. Thank you. I didn't expect you to say it was going to be worth that kind of money.
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