Antique bits

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Antique bits

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    01-11-2012, 06:36 PM
Antique bits

Hi all...I stumbled into this forum (via a google search) about a week ago and posted a pic of some of my antique bridle bit collection (in an "off-topic" section about collections.

Here's another one (some of my Civil War bits...the 2nd one from the right has been upgraded, however).

I gotta say the folks on here are just about the nicest I've ever found on-line! So welcoming and with great comments and questions.

I'm hoping other bit collectors will post some of their "prides and joys"...favorite bits from your collection...and I plan to do the same every once in a while.

Take care everybody!
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    01-11-2012, 07:44 PM
Love them. Curious to hear their value, if you'd be so kind as to share.

I'd like to start a (small) collection of antique/unique bits, but have no clue where to start.

Oh, and this may interest you: Hey Cowchick77 (and other bit people)!
    01-11-2012, 07:56 PM
Wow that's a cool collection! Very shiny
    01-11-2012, 08:13 PM
Those are cool Jim!

My father in law claims him and a few guys used to cowboy in those military bits. I guess they used to be easy to come by. I see them on Ebay and wondering how you tell the difference. I see people describing them as #2, #3's and so on. And there is a lot of knock offs.

If you don't mind sharing, I would like to know.

It is not the style my husband and I collect, but I am curious.

What style bits are looking to collect Bubba?
    01-11-2012, 08:35 PM
Very cool, thanks for sharing!
    01-11-2012, 09:45 PM
Hi all...
Value? Well, that's a moving target, of course. My first bit ever was a model 1859 US Cavalry bit (similar to the one pictured, 2nd from the left). I think I paid $75 for it almost (cough, cough) 36 years ago. May have overpaid, but it belonged to my grandfather who sold it at his dispersal sale (24 head of Belgians and TONS of tack and equipment). And, should I ever sell my collection (doubtful) I'd almost certainly keep that ONE bit.

Anyway, they'll more typically fetch at least $150 (and easily more) these days. I've seen 'em go for $300+. There's nearly ALWAYS at least one m1859 for sale on ebay.

Condition, as with most things, is VERY important and ya gotta be careful...there are a LOT of fake "US" bosses/medallions out there, even on genuine bits. Also, that m1859 bit itself has been reproduced for YEARS.

Easiest way to tell fake medallions...they are usually what I refer to as "muddy"...the letters aren't sharp, the edges of the boss itself aren't sharp and the background (behind the letters) is rough, not nicely etched. Easiest way to tell a fake m1859 bit...there'll be a "flare" where the mouthpiece meets the cheek, the port isn't a you bit looks more like a rounded off V and, more often than not, the fakes have stainless steel/shiny rein rings and slobber bars. One maker of reproduction m1859s is "MAST" and, if you see that mark on a bit, it's for sure a fake.

The original 1859s came in 3 port heights, along with the ring bit (nasty, nasty thing!) pictured at the far left. That ring (also found in lots of Mexican bits and some European ones as well) went AROUND THE LOWER JAW if you can imagine that! Fortunately very few of these ring bits were issued by the gov't so fewer horses had to suffer. 'course that also makes them very hard to find and pretty high priced. Tough to find these, assuming the seller knows what they have, for less than $300 and they can bring LOTS more.

Collectors sometimes do refer to the m1859 as a "#1", "#2", "#3" or "#4" which is a reference to the port height (respectively 2.25" for the ring bit, 2.0 inches, 1.5" and 0.5 inches).

The other 4 bits in the picture are US (federal) artillery bits from the Civil War. Note the slots (versus rings) for the reins...keeps the lines straight...and the upper rings (except that one 2nd from the right which I've since replace with one which HAS rings). The first of the four is a m1859 first pattern has plain, brass-faced bosses. The next one is the m1859 SECOND pattern bit. It's built a little heavier than the first pattern and has "US" bosses. Next is the m1863 artillery bit. Note the "slot" versus hole for the curb chain (or curb strap) and the sharper "S" curve in the shanks. This model has a beautifully designed "intertwined" "USA" boss. Again, this bit was issued with the upper rein rings but this particular example (and quite a few I've seen) have had the rings cut off. The last bit (far right in the picture) is a modification of the bit to its left. A post-war order stated all new bits and any bits being repaired should be tinned (instead of brass plated). At the same time the heavier bosses (like those found on the m1859 cavalry bit) replaced the lead-filled, thin brass shelled "USA" boss.

Value on these artillery bits runs somewhat higher. I'm guessing they were produced in much smaller quantities. I'm not really sure what they're fetching these days (I've not been paying much attention lately) but I'm guessing they might start @ close to $200 for good ones.
    01-11-2012, 10:22 PM
Thank you so much for sharing your info! I find it fascinating, I had no idea they used ring bits, like the Mexicans...I have never seen one- I don't think. If I had I would assume some crazy homemade modification! And thanks on explaining the port sizes...I have always wondered.
    01-11-2012, 10:24 PM
Originally Posted by jimbits    
I gotta say the folks on here are just about the nicest I've ever found on-line! So welcoming and with great comments and questions.

I'm hoping other bit collectors will post some of their "prides and joys"...favorite bits from your collection...and I plan to do the same every once in a while.

Take care everybody!
Really glad you like it here Jim! Love seeing the old bits.
    01-11-2012, 11:08 PM
Ever type up a really long reply...and then lose the whole thing? Yeah.

Cowchick, I really don't know what I want--if I had to pick, I guess it would be "Americana" cowboy-type bits. I adore your Californio/vaquero collection, but there's no way I could ever afford real works of art like that, and besides, I know that if I had a spade bit I'd be tempted to use it, and I can't imagine that would go over well. Though I do just love the look of good spades. I love Jim's Civil War bits, too, especially since I went through a big Civil War phase in school. The thing about Crocketts and the like is that I really don't know the history enough to appreciate them, and so I'm just not impressed. In short, I don't know WHAT I want, but I want SOMETHING--never mind that this is a terrible time to start a collection, as I need to be saving rather than spending money. Say, anyone want to trade a handful of five-year-old Reinsman barrel bits for something nice?

Please keep posting pictures, Jim, Cowchick, and anyone else. I at least enjoy drooling over them and learning.

And on that note, question on the artillery bits. I'm assuming they were used on the horses/teams who pulled the cannons and such, right? Were they used with two sets of reins, like a Pelham (which would be a huge handful for the drivers), or as curb/snaffle only depending on need, or somehow else entirely?

This is silly, too, but I don't know if you saw the movie War Horse, and I'm curious if those bits were authentic.

    01-12-2012, 12:48 AM
Thats funny you mention that....I typed up a storm only to have my laptop crash. Ctrl-Alt-Delete couldn't fix required pulling the battery out....can you get turned in for computer abuse?

So I shall do a quick synopsis of the post I had intended.

If you decide to a get a bit or two the style my husband and I have let me know. I am more than willing to help and we have plenty of contacts. And you don't have to go with a spade mouthpiece. There are more Mona Lisa, Salinas and Frog mouthpieces out there than the spades and half breeds. And those mouthpieces are a little more affordable if your going to buy one outright.

Like I have said before, I started out with trading a horse for some bridles and had to keep trading up. Sometimes I had to trade 2 or 3 lesser bridle bits to get a better one.
And I can understand not wanting to collect something you don't have an appreciation for...why have it if you don't like it? I started out with a few Crocketts, but I found I really like the Spanish/Californio/Mexican style stuff better. Down here in Texas the Crockett, Buermann and Isreal stuff is big.

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