Bit & Spur Motifs
General Types of Old Bit and Spur Designs and Motifs
Many of the most valuable and collectible antique bit and spur designs in the hobby feature animal designs and motifs.
Common collectible bit designs include the Eagle Bit design, Snake bit design or the Kissing birds motif. However, there are other less common designs that feature other animals as well. There is no single version of antique Snake or Eagle bit that is the definitive design and many bit makers used their own creativity to find ways to incorporate animal designs into functional bits.
Geometric motifs are in some ways the most simple types of designs that can be applied to collectible bits and spurs but in the hands of a master they can also become some of the most elaborate, unique, collectible and valuable. Designs can vary from something as simple as small bars on a heelband or circular buttons on a bit to elaborate interwoven mountings or engravings. Listed below are a few of the most common geometric designs but the variety you may encounter are virtually endless due to the creativity of the master bit and spur makers!
Cowboy motifs are especially popular in Western culture and provoke images of what we believe when we think of cowboys. Listed below are some of the most common Cowboy designs that will be seen on valuable and collectible antique bits and spurs.
Leafs, Flowers and Nature Motifs on Bits and Spurs
Natural motifs consist of designs based on nature such as flowers, leaves, and vines. Vine motifs, leafs, and other designs are popular with engravers of vaquero pieces and frequently fill space on silver inlays. One of the most important natural engraving techniques is the foliated design used in G.S. Garcia’s shop that was taught and employed by many of the makers who worked there and would later go on to become masters of their own. It’s also common to see natural designs as an overall part of a bit or spur’s aesthetic. Texas makers also used the vine or leaf motif commonly as part of engravings or even as mountings, such as J.R. McChesney’s three dimensional vine motif used on the heel band of spurs. A common use of a natural motif is on a Buermann or North & Judd Vine and Button Spur which is one of the more common pairs a new collector might encounter.
Coins are a popular addition to many antique spurs and they are popular with today’s collectors as well. While many other patterns have some fairly typical styles, coin spurs were almost always a custom order, so you never know what you’ll see. Coin spurs can be found in all kinds of configurations with many different types of coins. Value vary greatly depending on the maker, the design and the age of the coins.