Value of Old Antique Spurs
The good news is that if you are looking to find out how much your antique spurs are worth then you have come to the right place. If you send us pictures of your spurs then we can tell you pretty much everything you want to know about them including the history, maker, and of course, how much you can sell them for in today’s market. The following information is a summary of the basic information that will help you understand what collectors are looking for and why some spurs are worth $20 and why others are worth $20,000.
The Spur Maker Is Extremely Important
This probably doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone. The artist is to a painting as a maker is to a set of spurs. There is a definite ranking in terms of maker desirability. We are hesitant to list anything like a top ten list because any maker can have good and bad spurs. It is not as easy as, for example, all Kelly spurs are worth $500 a pair and all Bass spurs are worth $2,000 a pair. There are still lots of variables that affect the ultimate price. Keep reading for more information.
Consider The Location of the Spur Maker
Our list of spur makers has dozens of different men who produced spurs in the late 19th and 20th centuries. Where that person had his shop matters. Collectors usually have a strong bias towards one regional style based on their own geography or where they grew up. Even more specific there are many collectors who will focus exclusively on one maker. Popular makers can include Blanchard, McChesney, & G.S. Garcia among others. Finally, there are some collectors who focus on buying spurs from Colorado makers or Oklahoma makers. And don’t assume that the buyers of those spurs purely live in those corresponding states. Some of the most passionate collectors are actually on the east coast. Bottom line, when trying to evaluate your antique spurs, it is important to understand that the location of the maker matters.
The Rarity & Spur Style Drastically Affect Values
This is the concept that some people have a difficult time understanding. For example, why is one pair of Buermann spurs worth $5,000 and another pair is only worth $500. The price difference is likely related to the style, rarity, and general appeal of the spurs. Simply put, some makers sold a dozen utilitarian spurs for $1, these styles tend to not be very fancy and also pretty common. The same maker on the high end of his line might have sold spurs for $15 or $20 that were true works of metallic art with nicely engraved mountings or inlaid silver along with extra decorative effects like elaborate heelband shapes, coin embellishments, fancy rowels, gemstones, multiple metals including gold, and many other design innovations. Even famous makers might have made only one “showpiece” set compared to hundreds of the lower end or common designs he sold. There is going to be a huge price difference between a generic pair of spurs and an exceptional set of spurs, even if the spurs are from the same maker, from the exact same time. We have an article about the different types of spurs that can be worth good money. To summarize though, anything like gal-leg, eagle, snake, steer head spurs, etc. are going to be something that a collector can get excited about.
Condition Matters & So Does Spur Provenance
First off, don’t get too concerned about the condition of the leathers on your spurs. There are some rare occasions where really nice original leathers with fancy conchas can add a premium to a pair of spurs, but since the leathers can always be removed or replaced, the reality is that that the majority of spur collectors are just focused on the metal. And the condition of the metal is important. A set of spurs that is rusted out, or has replacement parts, should definitely have its price discounted to reflect the poor condition. Now that does not mean that you want to go buff your spurs to get them shiny because collectors prefer a dirty rusty pair in original condition to one that has been “worked” to try to look better. There are easy ways for a knowledgable collector to tell if a pair has been cleaned or “worked” so don’t think you’ll fool anyone, you’re just lowering the value of a historic pair of spurs. A nice original patina from years of use is expected and that will not hurt the value.
It goes without saying that a set of spurs belonging to Doc Holliday or Buffalo Bill is going to be worth good money. But what about spurs that belonged to John Smith on XYZ Ranch, are those worth more money because you know who owned the spurs? Well the short answer is that it depends. Knowing where the spurs were worn and by who is absolutely never going to hurt the value. Many collectors (myself included) really enjoy knowing the history behind even a common pair of spurs. So if you have any verbal provenance on your spurs, then by all means write it down and record it. A cowboy and ranch that is seemingly unimportant to you might be exactly what some collector is looking to buy.
My Spur Isn’t Marked, Now What?
Don’t worry, there are plenty of spurs that aren’t marked; those spurs can still be collectible. There are some experts and specialists out there who can identify a maker just based on the look and the construction technique of the spur or by the style of engraving on the mountings or inlays. Unmarked spurs can still be worth a hundreds to thousands of dollars if they can be credibly attributed to a famous maker. So don’t completely discount your pair just because you can’t find a maker’s mark. Although, keep in mind that for an unmarked pair of spurs to trade for a few hundred dollars or more, there will have to be something visually appealing about the pair. The fact that they are simply old spurs isn’t enough for someone to want to buy them.
Thanks, But I Still Don’t Know What My Spurs Are Worth
Unfortunately, there is no price guide online or in print that lists values for spurs. Each spur is valued on its own individual merits and there are so many factors that go into valuing any one pair that you have to be out doing it for a while to get the hang of it. This can be daunting to outsiders who don’t know the world of bit and spur collecting, but don’t worry: we’re here to help. Hopefully by reading the above information you have gotten a pretty good idea of if your old spurs have potential to be valuable. If you want to know exactly what your spurs are worth then all you need to do is email or text me. Just be sure to include a few pictures of the spurs (including the mark). Let me know if there is any provenance as well. I usually respond to most inquiries within a couple of hours or faster.