I am not sure I know what you mean, were you wanting a history on the spurs? I thought you were wanting what the current value would be on these spurs on the market today. I did not get my information from the internet, we pay for monthly subscriptions to data bases that track sells of items. I also have numerous price guides that I use for reference. After going to each of these areas, I then do a search on the internet to see if there are any that have currently sold that I can show the customer, the site I gave you a link to was what I found. I also found some listed on Ebay but, they were not worth mentioning since they were only asking 900.00 for them, that told me they have no idea what they have or what they are worth. Since you had the date these were made and the information on who they belonged to, and who made them. I did not know you wanted to know that. Your question was
" We are not interested in selling them, but was curious of what they might be worth, given the provenance of this particular pair of spurs, which have been in our family since they were made." . I am sorry I thought I was doing what you asked.
Here is an interesting Article you might like:
SPUR MAKER LEGEND LIVES
By Orville Howard: Farm Editor
Longfellow was not around the day J. O. Bass closed his blacksmith shop in this
little West Texas cowtown--the day he poured murky slag water on the last coals
and racked his anvil tongs forever.
But like Longfellow's classic character, a legend had been forged -- a legent of the Tulia Spur maker that would span half a century of time and be told and retold wherever cowmen congregated.
There's no physical trace left today of the old blacksmith shop which once stood a couple of blocks north of Tulia's town square. But people still remember, though somewhat dimly. J. O. Bass is also gone. He died at Plainview in 1950 at the age of 80. And with his passing, all of his blacksmith tools have disappeared.
Folks around here remember him as an honest, hardworking blacksmith; cowboys knew him only as the Tulia spur maker; and still others remember Mr. Bass as "an old man who worked at an anvil."
For 25 years, J. O. Bass was known in the Western world as one of the finest spur makers in America. No one knows how many spurs he made or how many he threw away because of some imperfection. He made a perfect spur from a solid piece of metal -- hand-forged and hand-engraved. Spur collectors throughout the nation now seek out the dainty, straight-line riding hardward with going prices now more than $50 for an inlaid set that cost $12.50 a half century ago.
Bass first saw the Panhandle 17 years before Oklahoma became a state. He was born at Atlanta, Ga., and at the age of 9, came west with his parents and six other children to Young County, Tex. A year later, in 1891, they moved north to Motley County just in time to hit the heyday at the vast Matador Ranch.
A younger brother, Elmer Bass, who now lives in Kress, said they
were headed out to the middle of the Panhandle country, but they couldn't get up
the Caprock."We stopped at Quitaque because we couldn't go any farther," said Elmer Bass. "We had two wagons and three yokes of oxen. . . and were hungry."
Historical gleanings show that Bass started his first blacksmith shop in 1897 at Quitaque where he married the former Corrie Edmondson. She also is deeased. Elmer recalled that his older brother made spurs for the Matador cowboys as just a sideline to his regular blacksmith work down in Motley County.In 1905, Bass and his wife pulled stakes and moved to Tulia where he went to a blacksmith partnership with Nolan Jones. Later, he bought out Jones and launched a full-time spur-making business. All of his spurs were hand-forged from one piece of metal, with numerous sets inlaid with copper and silver. He also make bridle bits, and these, too, were hammered out from a single piece of iron. During the years he patented several styles, including the locked-rowel spur and the curb-flange bridle. His favorite metal was that from buggy and hack axles.
"J. O. always said that the best metal on earth came from buggy
axles," said Elmer Bass. "He gathered the axles from all over the Panhandle and
paid a premium for them." J. Evetts Haley of Canyon, rancher and historian, said he remembered that cowboys sought after the Tulia-made spurs when he was a cowboy down in the Midland country in 1915-16.
"When a cowboy came up with a pair of Tulia spurs, he was a dressed-up cowboy," said Haley. "Years ago, I intended to do some research on the Tulia spur maker, but,
somehow, time slipped by and I became too busy with my ranch work."Joe
W. Vaughn, a farmer who lives on the north edge of Tulia has a bridle and a set
of spurs made by J. O. Bass. he can point to the spot where the old blacksmith
shop once stood and says that the late J. O. Bass was one of the finest men he
"When I was just a little tyke, I'd come by the shop almost every night on my way home from school and I'd watch Mr. Bass make spurs and bridles," said Vaughn. "Every one he made was nothing but perfection.
"When I got a little older, I guess about 16, I asked Mr. Bass if he'd make me a set of spurs," Vaughn continued. "And it just happened that he was finishing up a set of silver and copper inlaid spurs for a cowboy in Arizona, and he let me have those. I still have them and wouldn't take $50 for the set."
A serial number along with "Made By J. O. Bass, Tulia, Texas," was stamped on every set of spurs made by Bass after he went into the business fulltime at Tulia. These spurs have a distinct styling: A straight-line, rectangular shank, and they are rather small as spurs go.
Each spur was hand-forged on an anvil. The silver and copper inlay was welded to the spur by sheer force and heat. The towels were hand-stamped, then filed by hand to a perfect roundness.
In 1923, or maybe it was 1925, no one remembers for sure, J. O. Bass closed his blacksmith shop in Tulia. He was in failing health, and had to leave the forge behind. He took up farming in the Tulia-Plainview area where he spent the rest of his life.
J. O. Bass, Jr. of Plainview said as far as he know, there are no tools left of the old family blacksmith shop which once was a landmasrk for the cowboys of West Texas.
JINGLING FOOTWEAR: Elmer Bass of Kress, a younger brother of the late J. O. Bass who was known across the Southwest as the Tulia Spur Maker, shows a set of spurs made for him by his brother 53 years ago. Delicate engravings are still visible on the silver and copper inlaid shanks.
Barbara, My late husband, Kennith Joe McCain's father was Floyd Henry McCain and his mother was Macie Alice (Dollie) Bass. The two familes became close friends when the Bass family returned to Texas after living near Reed, Oklahoma for a number of years. Floyd's sister (still living) Lorene and Dollie became good friends. That lead to the eventual marriage between Dollie and Floyd. The families have remained close, dear friends ever since. Both families are very special people, although most of the older generation are now deceased.
My husband's Bass line is as follows: Kennith Joe McCain, Macie Alice Bass, John Freeman Bass, Anderson T. Bass, and James Redding Bass. J. O. and Elmer O. Bass are cousins to the Anderson T. Bass mentioned above. I have family group sheets for each of the above familes. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance to you. I will be glad to help although my time is very limited these days.
History of J O Bass:
Born in 1897 in Atlanta, Bass came to Texas as a boy in 1890 when his family moved to Young County. A year later the family put down stakes at Quitaque.
Growing up next to the massive Matador Ranch, Bass filled an obvious need when he opened a blacksmith shop in 1897 when he was just 18.
How he first learned his craft has been lost in history.
Jane Pattie, in her 1991 book "Cowboy Spurs and Their Makers," posed that question to Bass's son. J.O. Bass Jr. The younger Bass, who died in 1996, responded, "I don't know where my father learned blacksmithing. He didn't learn it from his father."
Regardless, it was natural that a farrier of the era would branch out to craft bits and spurs as a sideline. Bass did just that, with his spurs displaying a distinctive style that continued until he retired his tools in 1924. Many of those same tools can be seen in his recreated blacksmith shop inside Tulia's Swisher County Museum.
According to Pattie, "The profile of those early Bass spurs is rather straight, with a long shank, squared off narrow heelband and swinging buttons. A sample of these early spurs is in the Huff collection. They are stamped on the top of each shank, No. 103. On one side of the shank is 'J.O. Bass,' and on the other side is stamped 'Quitaque, Tex.' "
Many of the spurs Bass made while in Quitaque are rather plain. According to Pattie, those in the Huff collection are plain iron with no decoration. They have five-point, hand-filed rowels and swinging buttons.
After perfecting his craft in Quitaque for almost a decade, Bass moved to Tulia.
There's some dispute as to when Bass actually moved to Swisher County. Tulia museum director Alan Glasscock thinks it was between 1902-04. Pattie writes that the move occurred in 1905. Bass's obituary in the Plainview Evening Herald states Bass married Carrie Edmondson on March 14, 1905, in Quitaque. "In 1906 Mr. and Mrs. Bass moved to Tulia where they made their home until 1924 when they moved to a farm they rented seven miles northwest of Tulia."
That Feb. 5, 1950, obituary adds, "When at Tulia Bass engaged in a profession that reached its peak with the high point of ranching activity and practically disappeared when farming supplanted the open range. Bass made spurs and bridle bits, turning out masterpieces by hand and embellishing many of them with silver. When a youth he became interest in working with metal and when he went to Tulia he recognize the need, as well as prides of the cowboys, and turned to making these ranchman's accouterments."
Soon after moving to Tulia, Bass hired blacksmith Nolan Jones to work with him and went into the spur and bit business full time.
As noted in Bass's work journals - copies of which are in the Swisher County Museum - the last pair of spurs made in Quitaque were numbered 165 and the first set made in his Tulia shop are No. 166.
Glasscock uses those ledgers to authenticate Bass spurs and bits. "I get at least one telephone call a week from someone trying to verify that they actually have a genuine Bass spur or bit. And, since he wrote down the number and a good description of each set of spurs and bits he made, it's usually fairly easy to determine if they are genuine or not."
His obituary notes, "Bass became a successful farmer. In 1938 he bought land in the Edmonson community west of Plainview. In 1941 he turned to irrigation and at the time of his death had put down seven wells on his farmland."
Among the Bass stories Glasscock has accumulated in his 1¬½ years as museum director is the account of a want-to-be Bass collector who couldn't afford the expensive hobby. By happenstance he found a box filled with old military and junk bridle bits at a second-hand shop in Colorado.
"He offered the shop owner $75 for the whole lot," Glasscock explained. "Once he got home and started sorting through the bits he found one from Bass - worth at least $1,000 - at the very bottom."
If I can be of any further help, please feel free contacting me.