Lone Ranger Saddle True West Magazine
Clayton Moore’s Lone Ranger, next to his trusty white horse Silver, shakes hands with Texas native Jack Wrather who purchased the rights to the show in 1954. Wrather’s estate sold the Lone Ranger’s saddle used in the ABC series at Brian Lebel’s Old West auction.
— Courtesy Brian Lebel’s Old West, June 23, 2018 —

Western Americana saddles are more than just a piece of horse equipment. When coupled with beautiful craftsmanship and outstanding ownership, they can be collector’s items. The history of a saddle often drives up the price.

The Lone Ranger’s saddle has joined the top-dollar club, hammering down at Brian Lebel’s Old West on June 23 for $130,000.

Lone Ranger Saddle True West Magazine
The Edward Bohlin saddle, bridle and breast collar set are in the style of Bohlin’s San Gabriel model, with a few variations. A collector successfully bid $130,000 for the saddle, the auction’s highest-selling lot.
— Courtesy Brian Lebel’s Old West, June 23, 2018 —

Vintage Western saddles typically sell for under $10,000. Museum-quality saddles sell for much higher, particularly those made by respected saddlemakers, such as Edward Bohlin and Frank A. Meanea; those saddles usually fetch more than $100,000.

Bohlin is the saddlemaker behind the saddle Clayton Moore rode on Silver while starring as the Lone Ranger in the ABC series. This is not the highest auction price paid for a Lone Ranger collectible; that honor goes to A&S Auctions in Waco, Texas, for the Lone Ranger outfit that bid at $195,000. It’s also not the record price for a Bohlin saddle. “Roy’s saddle is probably the record for a Bohlin. To the best of our knowledge, anyway,” says Melissa McCracken, spokesperson for Brian Lebel’s Old West Events.

Lone Ranger Saddle True West Magazine
The last saddle of Mexican Revolution Gen. Francisco “Pancho” Villa (above) holds the world record for a Western Americana saddle; $625,000.
— Courtesy High Noon, January 28, 2012 —

McCracken is referring to the saddle Roy Rogers rode on for his TV series and in most of his films as early as 1942, which is when the singing cowboy actor purchased the saddle from Bohlin. It hammered down for $320,000 at a joint July 14-15, 2010, auction by Christie’s New York and High Noon (the latter is now produced by Lebel).

Lone Ranger Saddle True West Magazine
The Roy Rogers-owned John McCabe saddle that shocked the collecting world in 2002 bid high for $375,000 at High Noon auction.
— Roy Rogers photo Courtesy High Noon, January 19, 2002 —

But that’s not even the auction record for a Rogers saddle! In 2002, the saddle collecting world was stunned when a collector earned $375,000 selling the actor’s John McCabe saddle at High Noon. The interesting thing about that top-selling saddle is Rogers likely never rode on it. The seat was small, and the saddle was made to be featured in a traveling display case at Sears across the nation, to promote Rogers-branded toys, household items and clothes on sale.

Lone Ranger Saddle True West Magazine
A saddle that the singing cowboy actually rode on, as opposed to the 2002 saddle that was meant for promotional display, also brought in a top-dollar bid—$320,000, at a joint auction by High Noon and Christie’s New York on July 14-15, 2010.
— Saddle photo Courtesy Christie’s New York and High Noon, July 14-15, 2010 — –

The Rogers saddle stood as the highest price ever paid at auction until a decade later, when a Pancho Villa saddle hit the block at High Noon.

In 1933, ten years after the assassination of Mexican Revolution Gen. Francisco “Pancho” Villa, Howard Hawks got a fantastic parting prize from Villa’s widow—the general’s last saddle—while filming Viva Villa! Jack Conway ended up credited as the director after Hawks got into a fight with MGM over the studio firing actor Lee Tracy. Hammering down for $625,000 at the High Noon auction in 2012, Hawks’s Villa saddle has gone down in history for holding the world auction record for a Western Americana saddle.

Lone Ranger Saddle True West Magazine
The auction record for a Lone Ranger collectible is $195,000 for Clayton Moore’s Lone Ranger outfit, crafted by Nudie’s Rodeo Tailors, which included Nudie’s boots, a Stetson cowboy hat, an Edward Bohlin gun rig and Colt pistols (above) that a collector purchased at A&S Auction in Waco, Texas, on July 12, 2014. Moore wore the outfit at public events after he retired from television.
— Courtesy A&S Auctions, July 12, 2014 —

Who knows if another historical saddle will knock Villa’s saddle down a notch or if his will remain in the record books?

Upcoming Auctions

October 30, 2018

Historical Firearms & Militaria
Cowan’s Auctions (Cincinnati, OH)
Cowans.com • 513-871-1670

Oct. 30-Nov. 2, 2018

Historical Firearms, Militaria & Sporting
Morphy Auctions (Denver, PA)
MorphyAuctions.com • 877-968-8880


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