Spurs originally were brought to the New World by Spanish settlers in the 16th century. The modern period of spurs lasted from about 1860 to 1910. During this period the Mexican spur contained many interesting design elements mixing silver and iron to create figural, as well as geometric, works of art. They were typically large and heavy and were sometimes adorned with semi-precious stones such as rubies and emeralds.
Another style spur evolved from the Mexican tradition in Texas. It’s characteristics can be traced north along the length of the length of the cattle trails to Kansas. Oklahoma, Colorado, Wyoming, Missouri and Montana. Texas style spurs didn’t have jingle bobs, and the finer examples were decorated with silver overlay often
exhibiting steerheads, suits of cards, or a lady’s leg. The examples shown here serve not only to document the cowboy’s life, but also show important difference between the artistic visions of the makers and the social positions of the owners.
Like the Colt Peacemaker, spurs are the icon of the Old West. The very sight of an old cowboy spur automatically conjures images that transcend the form. The infinite variations, the artistry of the maker’s hand, the statement that was made by the wearer, all combine to make this an exciting subject. The spurs pictured on the following pages
are some of the most beautiful ever made. From the Mexican vaquero to the Wyoming wrangler, the evolution of a cowboy’s spurs can best be related visually.
The Spanish influence is most apparent in the California style spur which, in addition to silver inlay, often had pajados,or “jingle bobs” which were small metal drops suspended from the rowel pin. Jingle Bobs were purely decorative and created a pleasant musical sound as the cowboy rode or walked along the wooden sidewalks of the Old West.