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19TH CENTURY CROW INDIAN SADDLE – EXCELLENT SPECIMEN:  These early Native American saddles dating from the 19th Century simply did not survive in large numbers.  Given their intended use, the method and materials used in construction, and the environment in which they were used, the true early 19th Century Native American Saddles are not found in any significant numbers and those that do exist often present in relic condition.  

Many of the saddles were intentionally destroyed by the army during the Indian Wars, along with the horse herds and other captured camp equipage in compliance the stated policies to deprive the free roaming native people their means of transportation and the equipment necessary to maintain their way of life on the plains.  Once confined to the reservations and agencies, the older style of native saddles were no longer needed or were no longer practical, and were replaced by the standard contemporary saddles manufactured by the commercial saddleries and obtained from the general stores.  Hence, surviving specimens of these 19th Century saddles crafted by the Plains tribes in the traditional fashion are fairly scarce and are actively sought after by today’s collectors.   

This is a particularly nice example of a Crow Saddle - one of the more classic designs originating on the Northern Plains, and almost iconic in its shape and design. Constructed of hand fashioned wood, the four pieces of the frame – the pommel, cantle and two side bars – are solid and intact, and the face of the pommel has the classic additional baggage hook.  Measuring 22” long across the top flats and 20” along the side bars, the pommel and cantle top flat paddles are 17” high, and the seat measures 11” between the two uprights.  To provide some sense of size and scale, I’ve included a photo with a half gallon milk container next to the saddle.   

The rawhide bears faint traces of red ochre earth paint and the frame is very solid with no loose joints.  The wood frame is covered in very old light weight rawhide that is sinew sewn on all the seams.  The rawhide covering is in excellent condition on the outer/upper surfaces with all the seams intact.  At both the front and rear extensions of both side bars there are pairs of the properly hand burned holes for the attachment of the girthing straps.  Given its age and apparent use, it is not surprising that this remnant of the Crow horse culture does show some signs of age. There is some separation of the seams on the under sides of the side bars, but the underside seams are otherwise stable and have not weakened the integrity of the saddle, nor does this wear detract from the overall appearance of this piece.  The feather weight of the wood frame and the parchment like character of the rawhide, both having been well seasoned through the last 100 plus years, provide ample testimony to this saddle’s age and authenticity.   

On its own merit, this unique piece stands as a testament to the historic Native Horse Cultures of the Western Plains, and it presents very well as a spectacular example of pure Native American sculpture.  Included in a collection of US military saddles or Indian War period accoutrements and weapons, this saddle would be a poignant addition to your display.  I sought such a saddle for many years to add to my collection and the Cheyenne saddle that now resides with my military saddles is the first piece of horse equipment that visitors notice.  I cannot emphasize how difficult these saddles are to find, particularly in this nice condition, and when they are available, they often command prices several times that of the price of this piece.  I was fortunate to obtain this excellent example and to be able to offer it at a very reasonable price.  (1118)  $2750      



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