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19TH CENTURY MEXICAN VAQUERO “SNAKE” BRIDLE BIT – SILVER INLAYED – COMPLETE WITH CURB AND REIN CHAINS – VERY NICE SPECIMEN:  This is a very nice example of the type of bridle bits used by the 19TH Century Mexican Vaqueros or cowboys, and popular by cowboys in the United States, particularly along the border.  It features genuine silver inlays, not German or nickel silver, but coin quality silver.  The side bars were fashioned in the desirable form of a coiled snake, a style that reflected the influence of the desert southwest on both sides of the border.    

This bit measures 7 ½” tall, 4 ¾” wide, with side bars 2 ½” wide at the widest curve of the curl of the snake’s body.  The bit is well made, still retains its original form with no bending or misshaping, and the iron has naturally aged to an even plum brown patina. There is no significant pitting and overall the bit retains smooth, even surfaces.   

The side bars, including the dome-shaped bosses at the ends of the mouth piece, are inlayed with silver in a repeating geometric pattern of concentric coils with silver eyes in the snake heads.  The silver inlays and some of the exposed iron is highlighted with hand applied chased “rocker” engraving.  All of the silver inlays are intact with none missing or defaced.   

The iron mouth piece is inlayed on the tongue side (as it sits in the horse’s mouth) with two copper panels, applied to “sweeten” the taste of the bit – evidence that this bit was made for, and used by, a true horseman who understood the importance of such a feature.  The use of copper on the mouthpiece is an old feature which made the bit more palatable to the horse’s taste, and encouraged the horse to salivate, thus keeping the bit lubricated.  The copper bands on the mouth piece are decorated with hand applied chased “rocker” engraving.  The mouth piece is stamped with what is probably the maker’s mark, “LB”, just to the right of the curb arch.     

The iron curb chain is full length with all the links intact, attached to the rein rings with the original iron loops, and the chain is fitted with a functional steel snap to adjust the fit of the chain under the horse’s chin.  Both iron rein chains are full length at 13” with all the links intact, and are complete with the original attachment hooks, stirrup shaped swivel at the mid point of each chain to prevent tangling and binding, and the original rein rings at the end for attaching leather, braided rawhide or horsehair reins.   

This bit would be a nice addition to any western bit collection, particularly one acknowledging the significant contributions of the Mexican Vaqueros.  (0221)  $550



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