LatinaLista — On July 20, 1923, Mexican revolutionary leader, Pancho Villa, was assassinated in Chihuahua, Mexico. Though he was a murderer, a cattle rustler and bank robber, Villa was also a charismatic hero to the thousands of Mexico’s poor. As a result, he left behind a Robin Hood-esque legacy that has been romanticized over the century and celebrated in both film and photographs.
It was during the filming of the movie “Viva Villa” in Mexico in 1934 when Villa’s widow decided to give one of her husband’s old saddles to the film’s director Howard Hawks after it was announced that he was being replaced as director. Yet, the saddle wasn’t just any old saddle. This one was a custom parade saddle that had been made especially for Pancho Villa by a couple of Mexico’s most renowned saddle makers.
Throughout the years, Hawks traveled the world making movies. He didn’t realize that some of his possessions and the saddle had gone missing. It wasn’t until 1976 when Hanks happened to catch a TV commercial advertising that Pancho Villa’s saddle was up for sale/auction that he recognized the missing saddle. Hawks filed a theft report with his local California police department and the police seized the saddle. Unfortunately, Hawks died the following year and never took possession of the saddle.
It wasn’t until 1982 when Hawks’ estate received the saddle. In 1990, Chucky Ramsey from Trails West Gallery in Laguna Beach, CA bought the saddle. Since then, the saddle has been on exhibit, rotating between two museums, the Witte Museum in San Antonio and the South Texas History Museum in Edinburg, Texas.
Now, Ramsey has decided it’s time to sell Pancho Villa’s “last saddle.”
While he’s been proud to own this little piece of history for the last 20 years, Ramsey tells San Antonio’s La Prensa newspaper that it’s time that someone else has the opportunity. Ramsey told the paper that in 18 years over 12 million people have seen the saddle and it’s his hope that the new owners continue caring for and exhibiting the saddle in the most important museums of the world.
On January 28, 2012, Pancho Villa’s saddle will be auctioned off in Mesa, Arizona at the High Noon Western Americana Auction. For buyers who can’t be there in person, bids are open via online and phone. To help people understand the history of the saddle and to see its workmanship, Ramsey created the web site Pancho Villa’s Last Saddle.
In addition to the pictures of the saddle, a historical timeline and a trailer of the movie that started this long journey, visitors/potential bidders will find a detailed description of the saddle itself. Part of the description reads:
THE SADDLE IS IN EXCELLENT CONDITION. THE EXTREMELY HIGH QUALITY OF THE MATERIALS AND WORKMANSHIP EMPLOYED IN THE CARVED SADDLE TREE, THE LEATHER, SILVER, AND THE EMBROIDERY WORK INDICATES THIS A UNIQUE SADDLE CREATED SPECIFICALLY FOR A VERY IMPORTANT AND WELL-RESPECTED FIGURE. THE SADDLE IS SIGNED BOTH BY THE LEATHER WORKER AND THE SADDLE TREE MANUFACTURER, AND HAS MONOGRAM IN SILVER OF THE PATRON (“PV”) ON THE POMMEL AND THE STIRRUPS. THE EMBROIDERY TECHNIQUE USED TO DECORATE THE LEATHER – SILVER-WRAPPED THREADS OVER LEATHER STUMPWORK – REQUIRED A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT BY AN EXPERT CRAFTSMAN. THE EXPERTISE TO CREATE THIS KIND OF EMBROIDERY IS NO LONGER DONE, AND CAN BE CONSIDERED A “LOST ART”.