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August 7, 2022 @ 9:00 am - 10:00 am

In this program Griff Durham will explore the widely held myth that saddle makers on the Plains copied the Hope/Texas saddles ridden north by Texas drovers in the 1860s and 70s. He will provide overwhelming evidence that saddlers in Pueblo, Denver, Cheyenne and Miles City copied patterns that originated in California, and that the features of the California saddle like Samstag rigging, large square skirts and saddle string construction were copied by Texas saddlers in the 70s and 80s. 

This is a ticketed event and seating is limited. Please register at the link below.

$5 non-members, FREE admission for TBM members

Griff Durham

Griff DurhamReno, Nevada historian Griff Durham has been interested in cowboy horse gear for over sixty years. He began collecting saddlery catalogs in the early 1950s. Olsen Nolte Saddle Shop’s branch in his hometown of Redwood City became his shrine, and made his first saddle. Another early hero was Luis Ortega, whose booth at the Cow Palace he visited every Fall, buying Ortega’s books there in 1957.

     He received a B.A. in Economics from the University of California Berkeley in 1963.  He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Northeast of Brazil as an agricultural extension agent. Griff did graduate work at the University of California, Los Angeles, in Economics and Latin American Studies. He came to Nevada in 1969 to work as a research assistant on a University of Nevada Reno/Intertribal Council research project.  He received a M.A. in Anthropology in 1972 from UNR.

     For the past twenty years he has done serious research in the field, focusing on the history of Pacific slope saddleries and their contribution to the development of the Western stock saddle and other cowboy horse gear during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

     He has been a frequent exhibitor at California cowboy gear shows in Santa Paula, Los Alamos, Santa Ynez, Paso Robles, Bolado Park, Carmel Valley, and most recently, at the Rancho Santa Margarita “Old California Reata Roping and Stock Horse Contest”.  Griff Durham has acted as a consultant to museums, dealers and collectors in the field, and has organized three historical saddlery exhibits.

“Saddle Makers of Santa Barbara”, 1999, Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation at the Casa de la Guerra
A Gathering of Great Basin Gear 2001, Western Folklife Center, Elko.
“Everything for the Vaquero, the Legacy of G.S. Garcia, 2003, Western Folklife Center, Elko.

“Everything for the Vaquero: A Brief History of the Manufacturers of Riders Outfits in the Great Basin”, Catalog for 2001 Elko Poetry Gathering Gear Show
“The California Origins of Great Basin Gear”, in program book for the 17th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Elko, January 27-February 3, 2001.
“Everything for the Vaquero: The Legacy of G.S. Garcia”.  Catalog for the 2003 Elko Cowboy Poetry Gathering Gear Show
Online Nevada Encyclopedia, 2008. “Nevada Saddlery since 1870”, and “Nevada Rawhide since 1870”.
Vaquero Heritage Times, “Miller & Lux in Nevada”

Autry National Center – Museum of the American West, Los Angeles, CA.
The Buffalo Bill Historical Center (Buffalo Bill Center of the West), Cody, Wyoming.
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City, OK.
Glenbow Museum, Calgary, Alberta.
Oakland Museum of California, Oakland, CA.
Santa Barbara Historical Society, Santa Barbara, CA.
Carriage and Western Art Museum of Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA.
Arizona West Galleries, Scottsdale, AZ
High Noon, Los Angeles, CA

“The California Origins of the Stock Saddle”
     Nevada State Library and Archives, Carson City, NV, Sept. 1997
     California Saddle Makers Guild, Paso Robles, CA, Nov. 1997
     Santa Ynez Valley Historical Society, Santa Ynez, CA., March 1998.
     California Days – Plymouth, CA, April 1998 (official event of the California 
     High Noon Auction, Dealer-Customer Sunday Breakfast Presentation, Mesa, AZ Jan. 2000.     National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Elko, NV Jan. 2001.
     National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City, OK, Sept. 2002)
     (part of the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association Fourth Annual Exhibition & Sale.)
      Panhandle Plains Historical Museum, July 23, 2011
“Everything for the Vaquero: The Legacy of G.S. Garcia”
     San Luis Obispo Historical Society, San Luis Obispo, CA, March 2003.
     Nevada State Museum, Carson City, NV, March 2003.
     High Noon Auction, Dealer-Customer Sunday Breakfast Presentation, Mesa, AZ, 
     January 2004.
“Art That Works for a Living:  Great Basin Cowboy Gear as Folk Art”, Nevada Museum of Art, June 29, 2007
“150 Years of Saddle Making in Reno”, Nevada Historical Society, October 3, 2014
“Origins of the Stock Saddle”, National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, October 11, 2014, (part of the Cowboy Crossings exhibition and sale)

Autry National Center – Museum of the American West
California Historical Society
Nevada Historical Society
Tulare County Historical Society
National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum