Silver Parade Saddles are True Pieces of Americana!
Edward H. Bohlin parade ensemble
Many Ed Bohlin saddles were made for famous Hollywood cowboy heroes. If you are familiar with the name you will certainly know the style. Just think of most cowboy heroes from the golden age of Western movies such as Tom Mix, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and The Lone Ranger. The silver saddles and tack worn by such famous horses as "silver", "Trigger", and "Buttermilk" were typical examples of the Bohlin design and craftsmanship. Another example of Bohlin tack would be the beautiful silver parade saddles and full gear displayed throughout the years in the Tournament of Roses Parade.
Tom Mix / Tony Roy Rogers / Trigger Gene Autry / Champion The Lone Ranger / Silver
Edward H.Bohlin was born in Sweden in 1895 and came to America before WW1. He was a working cowboy in Montana and Wyoming. One of the ranches he worked on was owned by the famous Buffalo Bill Cody. While between jobs, he opened his first leather shop in Cody, WY. He later opened a leather shop in Hollywood, CA. Around 1923 he expanded his business to include saddles, spurs, and fast draw holsters. Tom Mix and Gene Autry were among his friends and customers. He was a real artist and crafstman. Bohlin died in 1980. Edward H. Bohlin Co. is still in business today, but does not build saddles as such. They now specialize in belt buckles and watches. Edward H. Bohlin was known as the "Saddlemaker to the Stars."
Keyston Brothers, James and William were in business many years in San Fransisco, CA before they began making saddles in 1906. Shortly after the earthquake and fire of that year, the Keyston Brothers began buying out their competitors. The Keyston Brothers became the largest manufacturers of saddles and harness on the Pacific Coast. In 1959 they bought the Lichtenberger Co. of Los Angeles, CA. They still are in business today in Sparks, NV, but do not build saddles.
Materials used among the high end silver saddle makers such as Bohlin, Keyston, Ellis and Hollywood Saddlery were Sterling Silver, 14k & 18k Gold in all four colors along with precious stones such as Rubies.
It is true that the majority of all the master craftsmen of that bygone era are no longer with us.
But one man in particular, John Carney, still carries on the forgotten art of silversmithing, thus becoming one of the most trusted and unmatched leading experts in the restoration of high end silver saddles.
Return to the golden age of silver saddles
with John Carney of
Bohlin Headstall Sterling Silver Bohlin Ensemble
Photos used with permission from
Bruce Lovins had his shop in Alexandria, Kentucky during the 1930's through the 1950's. Although Lovins made several sterling silver saddles, the majority were made using German Silver, Monel, Nickel, and Aluminum metals, very much resembling Bohlin's style. Bruce Lovins died of cancer in 1962.
Ted Flowers began making saddles during the 1940's in his shop in Anderson, Indiana. He then moved his shop to Alexandria, Indiana. It is during the 1950's through 1960's that Ted Flowers produced most of his saddles. Ted Flowers was a very prolific parade saddle maker during his time. The Ted Flowers saddles were very popular for use in parade horse classes at shows such as Saddlebred, Morgan, & Palomino. it is believed he stopped producing saddles altogether in the mid-seventies.
Ted Flowers, although , did make a very few saddles with Sterling Silver and Gold Plating, was known for using mostly German Silver, monel, Nickel, and Aluminum on his parade saddles. Ted Flowers also used brass and gold plating for decorative accents on his conchos. Some of his lower end saddles and accessories had stainless steel conchos.
The German Silver and Monel does not require near as much labor to keep polished as does Sterling Silver, and has always been much more affordable than the Sterling Silver saddles.
These saddles weigh approximately 75 pounds including the serapes, breast collar, headstall etc. While the Bohlin and Keystone and others sterling silver parade saddle outfits often weigh in excess of 125 lbs. to 150 lbs
For all those that were and are fortunate enough to acquire these True pieces of Americana
will Forever cherish them with Pride.