Thursday, February 10, 2011

Treasure Chest Thursday: Great Grandpa Andrew's Lady-Leg Spurs

Andrew Lee Brittain 1888-1954
If you've been following my posts, you know I come from cowboy stock. You've already seen my maternal Grandpa John's rodeo pictures and read some of his story. My dad's side were cowboys, too. In fact, most of my ancestors were farmers, so it makes sense that a lot of my family treasures and photos would have something to do with horses!

Today, I'm sharing with you photos of the spurs that were well-used by my paternal great grandfather, Andrew Lee Brittain. Andrew was born in Arkansas in 1888, grew up in Oklahoma and finally moved with his family to California in 1940. He died in Hayward, California, in 1954.

I believe that this picture of Andrew was taken when he was a young man in Oklahoma. It was certainly still the Wild West there: look at the dirt streets, building facades and wagon wheel in the background.

I love that these are "gal leg" or "lady leg" spurs.  You can see that the shank is fashioned to resemble a lady's leg, and there's a silver (probably nickel) overlay where the lady's shoe is at the end of the shank, surrounded by the star-shaped rowell (or, in layman's terms, the spinny part that digs into the horse when you want to giddy-up!). The maker also fashioned decorative spades and a diamond shape on the part that goes around the boot. My dad inherited these spurs from his Grandpa Andrew, and later hand tooled the leather guards that go around the front of the boots. I believe that he also added the sterling silver concho strap pins. I haven't shined up the sterling because, if I've learned nothing else from watching "Antiques Roadshow" all these years, I know that too much polishing can rub away the detail. =)

See the lady's leg? Pretty classy!
After my dad passed away in 2003, my mom thought I'd appreciate these treasures. She was right! I keep them proudly displayed with my dad's silver belt buckle and cowboy hat band.

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