OK, this isn’t exactly a John le CarrĂ© story – it is, however an interesting glimpse into someone’s life…

I recently bought a collection of cowboy / western gear – it’s always intriguing to wonder how it ended up here in the south west of England. This time I have at least part of an answer….

Early 20th century cowboy gear

Buermann spurs, stirrups and Romal reins

Packed in with the Buermann spurs, stirrups and romal reins there was a note to the purchaser :

“To the purchaser of these cowboy reins, stirrups and spurs.

They belonged to my Great Uncle Percy Brown who lived in Southend-on-Sea.
In the early twentieth century my uncle went to the USA to gain some experience of a different life before settling down to be a master tailor like his father.

He was in San Fransisco during the 1906 earthquake and later became a cowboy.
He crossed Death Valley in a stagecoach and shot a rattlesnake. The skin was displayed in a frame on his wall when he returned home.

When he returned home he married Miss Constance Fenton. They lived in Leigh-on-Sea where he had a tailor’s shop. Connie and Percy never had children of their own but adored their nephews and nieces especially my mother. He made the suit that she wore for her 1944 wedding”

Gosh… I’m exhausted just reading about Percy’s life, he must have been quite a man. And one couldn’t possibly separate his spurs, stirrups and reins

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I’ve spent far too much of today contemplating a spur.
I’ve no idea of its provenance, I bought it at auction with a load of silver plated dinnerware.
eagle headed spur

Eagles aren’t uncommon in military spurs, there’s a thriving trade in reproduction eagle headed confederate officers’ spurs, but unsurprisingly no crowns there. Eagle headed spur

There is a reference to brass spurs with crowned eagle decoration for the pageant in Godfrey Bosvile’s 1908 book on Horses, Horsemen & Stable Management – but this refers to a 16th century spur & I believe that mine is later.

So how does my spur differ from its republican cousin? Well, the crown is a pretty good place to start. There have been many eagles used in military contexts over time. I recently visited Budapest, where I bought some Austro-Hungarian dress spurs that feature an eagle.

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