Legends in Leather was born because of my on-going love affair with the American West, both real and fictional. I guess it started with the first western movie I can recall seeing as a little boy in the 1940s. It was called Four Faces West and starred Joel McCrea and his wife, Francis Dee, and was all about honesty, courage, loyalty, helping people when they're down regardless of the color of their skin or race, personal responsibility, and owning up to mistakes. Sort of old-fashioned ideas, but they seemed right to me then and do now. If that was what the American cowboy stood for, then I wanted in. I could never see enough western movies, read enough western novels or histories, or hear enough of the western performers like the Sons of the Pioneers. If you feel this way, you're in the right place!
I began collecting material from the western movies and then TV. More recently, I began attending western film fairs and festivals, and then came my first cowboy action shoot and the many western recreation groups that are starting up. A whole industry to supply western clothing and accessories (both historic and "Hollywood") seemed to spring up overnight. There were many original and replica western style firearms available, as well as many fine reproductions of actual belts and holsters for the 1870s, 80s and 90s, but I couldn't find one manufacturer of quality, carefully-researched replicas of the highly stylized fancy gun rigs of the Hollywood western movies -- the one-of-a-kind carved outfits that became a signature of the star wearing it. I decided to build my own.
I guess fate decided a long time ago that I'd become a holster maker, because I was soon introduced to several of Hollywood's most famous leather crafters, whose work has appeared in films from the early 1930s to well into the 1970s. Their customer lists read like a Who's Who of the Hollywood western genre, including such greats as Charles Starrett, Rex Allen, Sr., William Elliott, Gary Cooper, Buck Jones, Sunset Carson, Lash LaRue, William Boyd, and, yes, even John Wayne.
These gentlemen couldn't have been more supportive or helpful, inviting me to their shops and spending their valuable time teaching me the tricks of the trade and even giving me some of the original patterns of their most famous outfits, along with some very special tools and advice. I will forever be in their debt.
With this priceless gift in hand, and through my own careful research using books, publicity stills, lobby cards, videos, magazines, private collections and personal interviews, as well as by visiting museums and western film fairs, I've been able to create an extensive library of patterns. These encompass most of the famous "B" and "A" western stars, co-stars and sidekicks, both men and women. They include not only the exact shape and style, but color and individual carving pattern, silver design and placement, buckle types and even the number of bullet loops. All Legends in Leather outfits are designed to be used, so they must not only look good hanging on a wall, but must sit, fit and hang just like the originals. When you put on your rig, at least from the waist down, you should resemble the star you're dressed like.
Here in my little home shop in historic Prescott, Arizona, all of my work is done the old-fashioned way, just like it was done in many of the famous leather maker's shops of 1930s and 40s Hollywood. Everything is hand cut, carved, shaped, laced, stitched, dyed, burnished and polished. The best original grades and weights of leather are used, along with the finest dyes, thread, calf lacing, finishes, and leather products. To help keep costs at a reasonable level, readymade buckles, spots, and conchos closely resembling the originals are used. Where budgets allow, exact reproductions of the original buckles, spots, and conchos are hand produced from sterling silver for your special outfit.
Remember, due to the very time-consuming nature of custom-designed, all hand crafted, museum-quality gunleather and accessories, the cost is much greater than with high volume, mass produced, machine made products. Legends in Leather outfits start at around $350 for a simple Hondo style rig, to $600 for a plain single "buscadero," to $1,000 for a fully carved double outfit. The addition of custom sterling silver, two toning, and hand border lacing can raise the cost to from $1,500 to $2,500 and beyond. Because of the many variations available, a full price list would look like a dictionary. I recommend that you pick one or two outfits you like from my online catalogue and I will quote you current prices.
Each rig is handcrafted to your specific requirements and size to insure as perfect a fit as possible. I honestly believe you'll be pleased with a Legends in Leather outfit, and I look forward to handcrafting one for you.