Monday, November 20, 2006

Charlie Russell Saddle

While visiting the Charlie Russell Museum in Great Falls, Montana about 15 years ago, I ran across a limited edition bronze of Charlie's saddle, done by Bob Scriver of Browning, Montana. I couldn't afford the $150, but I couldn’t pass it up, so I bought it anyway.

Several years later, one of my customers brought in an old loop seat saddle, circa 1887-89, wanting to know what it was worth. Well, the fenders had been cut in half to make a kid’s saddle, the skirts were not original, and the horn cap was torn off, but on the back of the cantle plain as day was the maker’s mark. It read “F.A. Meanea Co. MAKER Cheyenne Wyo Territory”. I told my customer that the saddle wasn't worth much as is, but if he would sell it to me for a $100 that I would rebuild it, and never sell it.

At the time, I didn't realize it, but this was identical to the saddle that Frank Meanea had built for Charlie Russell, the one in my bronze. The saddle sat in our shop for three years before I found a very talented leather tooler who said he could duplicate the original skirts and fenders. I’ve included photos for you to judge for yourself. By the way, the saddle is not for sale.

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