Seasonal Spur Exhibit at the W.K. Gordon Museum

The history of one of the western industries most recognizable staples


Alina Rangel/The JTAC

This pair of spurs was built by Randy Butters, Edmondson had them built for his late granddaughter. The spurs include motifs such as gal legs, hearts, flowers and butterflies.

Hugh Edmondson, Tarleton State University Alumni, made it his goal to collect a pair of spurs from each of the 66 spur makers from the book Bit and Spur Makers in the Texas Tradition. 

Edmondson’s collection begins with Texas made spurs dating as far back as the late 1800’s. He accomplished getting a set from all but about six of the makers; his search continues. A large portion of his collection now resides at the W.K. Gordon Museum and is available to view until Dec. 23. 

A total of 140 spurs were donated to the museum, but only 87 are available for display. The spur collection began with a spur found on the Edmondson ranch. Hugh Edmondson fell down the rabbit hole starting with the researching of the August Buermann spur, that was the beginning of his collection process. The spur was created by August Buermann, and its matching spur which is displayed at the museum was created by R.F. Ford. 

Mary Adams, the Museum director, shared information over individual artists and how some makers tied to others. She began with sharing some of her favorite individual spur makers. She shared that the collection also includes a set of three spurs and a few bits made by an entire family. The Boone family of San Angelo, Texas who had a family business creating bits and spurs.

“Joe Bianchi was an Italian immigrant who ended up in Victoria, Texas and opened up his own spur shop. Joe Bianchi’s were famous because they could actually be used as bottle openers,” Adams shared.

The exhibit also includes information about the spur and it’s parts. This information includes the different types of buttons, shanks, and rowels.

Throughout the spur sets the motifs and information for most individual sets are listed. Common themes for spurs often include animals, flowers, numbers and other southwestern designs.

“You get motifs of gal legs, cards… for the most part all of your spur makers customize [spurs],” Adams shared.

Most of the spur makers and spurs on display at the museum tie together somehow. Some spur makers have learned from others, received ideas or inspiration and even have worked together. The museum also shares a few individual stories of spur makers. 

“The earliest spur makers probably never would have admitted to doing art, they were blacksmiths by trade, they worked. Their goal was to produce something they could sell and make money on,” Adams said. “You get Wilson Capron, who will readily admit his [work] is and can be art. They all are art to me, even the oldest ones are art.”

The W.K. Gordon Museum is one of Tarleton’s many research facilities. It is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. 

For more information on the W.K. Gordon Museum, you can visit The Gordon Center also has available copies of the Bit and Spur Makers in the Texas Tradition by Ned Martin, Jody Martin and Kurt D. House available for purchase.