Cowboy Spur Makers – The BIG 3
When you talk about Cowboy Spurs and the makers of western bits, buckles, spurs and tack there are 3 famous makers, referred to as "The BIG 3" that are most common.
Collectors of western memorabilia know these makers as a testament of quality, originality and genuine American history.
North and Judd
North and Judd are probably the oldest "larger scale" manufacturer of spurs and horse-riding equipment, who started in Connecticut before 1800. They went on to become the supplier of spurs to the US cavalry and army who used them during the American Civil War.
Expansion was key to their success and they bought the Buermann brand which took their workforce to well over 500 people, positioning them as one of the largest and most successful brands.
If you are looking to buy a pair of North and Judd spurs, make sure you look out for the anchor marking, which was hand stamped on to every pair they sold.
Read more about the North And Judd company over at the New Britain Industrial Museum website.
As with N&J we have just discussed, the Renalde name, headed up by Jim Renalde (after taking over the company from his late father James), was also a quality brand that bought up other companies to establish themselves in the market.
Renalde had absorbed the Crockett and Kelly names into their brands by as late as the 1960's which made them pretty much the biggest maker of spurs until the company ceased more recently.
The Renalde brand is a more modern success in the realm of western spurs, saddles and equipment and good old business acumen.
The Crockett brand is also one of the old-time greats in blacksmithing and making cowboy spurs. Started in the early 1900's, Oscar Crockett has grown up working in the family business and started out on his own, making spurs and horse-bits, eventually moving to Kansas where he saw out his days making cowboy boots.
As we have already mentioned, the Crockett brand was bought up by Jim Renalde, but before that Oscar had also expanded his own company, bringing on-board the Shipley Spurs company, boosting their sales and profits across the US and the world.
There is a great timeline about Oscar Crockett at The Original Crockett Bit And Spur Company website.
Business was booming in the US when these companies started and there was a large demand for good quality bits and spurs for general use, but also for the US army, which was also growing at the time.
However, big business also means that companies are bought, sold and combined. Jim and James Renalde were perfect business minds, buying the right companies at the right time and became the largest trader of spurs.