A treasured family saddle is worth it’s weight in gold.

AdolfoEagleSaddle 11Nov

My grandfather recently passed away, and my dad received one of his old saddles. For most of his life, my grandfather worked for prominent California rancher, land owner and horse breeder Adolfo Camarillo and the Camarillo family in Camarillo, California. The town, as well as the Camarillo White Horse breed, was named after Adolfo. When my grandfather was 11 years old, Adolfo took him under his wing and taught him about horses. My grandfather lived on the Camarillo Ranch and was the ranch foreman for 60 years. Today, the ranch is owned by the City of Camarillo.

The saddle in these photos was made for Adolfo and the Camarillo family before the eight black-and-white (black leather and silver) saddles used on the Camarillo White Horses in many parades and community events. Edward H. Bohlin made the black-and-white saddles, and, by all accounts, it appears he also made this eagle saddle. The saddle has silver accents throughout, including conchas, stirrups, skirts and horn. What makes it unique, however, is the eagle carved into the fenders. This saddle is especially interesting because on page 28 of the June 2005 issue of Western Horseman, a similar saddle is shown with a peacock on each fender. There are similarities in the silver studding and silver placement on the saddles. One difference, however, is that my dad’s saddle has an attached blanket underneath.

Besides finding out the eagle saddle’s value, I’d also like to know if the eagle and peacock saddles were made by the same person.

—WH Reader, California, USA

Peacocksaddle 05June
The “Peacock” saddle in the June 2005 issue (shown here) was one of the items that received top bids at the 2005 High Noon Western Americana Show and Auction in Phoenix, Arizona. In the early 1900s Brydon Bros. made the “Peacock” saddle for A.M Baldwin. It features peacock-head silver conchas and tooling and overlaid and filigreed California poppy stirrups, and was said to have been three years in the making. The Peacock saddle sold for $39,200, which was within the estimated $25,000 to $40,000 price range. 

Expert: We know the peacock saddle shown in Western Horseman was made by Brydon Brothers. Because of the similarities in craftsmanship and carving between your eagle saddle and the peacock saddle, I believe your saddle also was made by that company.

Brydon Brothers Harness and Saddle Company, based in Los Angeles, California, was formed by brothers Andrew, Robert and Richard Brydon in 1901. In the 1930s, it sold to F. O. Baird. Brydon Brothers sold saddles and holsters to the military and some of the early Western movie stars, such as William S. Hart, Buck Jones and Tom Mix.

The saddle is in very good condition and the leather looks like it’s in original condition. While much of the silver on the saddle is original, it appears some was added later, particularly the three pieces on the back of the cantle. The smooth, un-engraved silver on the pommel, horn cap and cantle is unusual and gives the saddle a unique appearance. The attached corona saddle blanket adds to the saddle’s beauty.

With the great history of your grandfather and his work with the Camarillo family, your saddle is a real treasure for a saddle collector

Estimated value: $12,000

Expert: Mike Graham is the owner of Ruxton’s Trading Post in Manitou Springs, Colorado. He and his wife, Gretchen, specialize in collectible pieces of Western Americana. The couple wrote the book Old Cowboy Saddles and Spurs, Identifying The Craftsmen Who Made Them. For more information, visit online at ruxtons.com


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