Our expert estimates the value of this engraved silver breast collar.

Eagle-breast-collar-

This breast collar caught my eye at a consignment store in Norco, California. I bought it for $35 with the thought of using the 26 conchas on a belt. A cowboy who was also shopping in the store offered to buy the silver eagle on the breast collar for $35. While removing it from the leather, I noticed it was stamped Sunset Silver Co. with what appears to be another maker’s mark and the number 51, so I decided not to sell it. I know no history about the breast collar other than it was donated to charity and consigned to the store. I think that I have made a great fi nd and want to know more about the item.

—WH Reader, Mira Loma, California

The silver company now known as Stanton’s Sunset Trails started in the early 1920s in a Los Angeles, California, garage under the name Srour Company. The garage was at the Stanton home in the historic West Adams section of town. Michael Srour, who was married to a Stanton family daughter, witnessed Los Angeles changing from a rural farming community to a big city, and he wanted to preserve the vanishing rural lifestyle by making silver conchas and buckles. About the same time, the film industry was popularizing Western fashions, and both the movie studios and the general public demanded Western wear.

The Srour Company soon moved to a new plant in Culver City, near MGM studios. Michael’s brother-in-law, Joe Stanton, joined the business in the early 1940s. After serving in World War II, Joe’s son, Bob, worked part-time in the shop while attending Loyola University.

Michael retired due to poor health and left Joe, Bob and another brother-in-law, Al Means, to run the business. They renamed the business H.S. Means Company after Bob’s sister, Helen Stanton Means. In 1951, Bob purchased the business from Joe and Al, and renamed the company Sunset Trails.

In 1960, Bob acquired McCabe Silversmiths of Hollywood and combined two great silver-smithing companies in a single location. Later, his brother-in-law and two sons joined the company. In 1994, Sunset Trails moved to Temecula, California.

I contacted Tony Stanton, Bob’s eldest son, and he says your eagle was made after 1960 since it shows both the Sunset Trails and the McCabe marks. He thinks that the McCabe mark might signify that the design was originally from McCabe, or it might have been used to state the high quality of engraving. He also believes that the number 51 is actually made from the sterling stamp bouncing on the silver, and it doesn’t have any reference to a catalog number.

It appears that a small crack on the eagle’s neck may have been repaired. Still, to reproduce the eagle today would cost at least $1,000, and the sterling conchas are worth $50 each. I think that you made a lucky find, indeed.

Estimated value: $2,400

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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