LEGENDS IN LEATHER

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Angel and the Badman

Even before John Wayne achieved international stardom in John Ford’s Stage Coach, he’d been slowly developing a distinctive style, a look, that he felt was not only more authentic than many of the "B" western stars, but also suited him personally.

By the time he began filming the Three Mesquiteers’ series December 1938 release, Santa Fe Stampede, he’d abandoned his traditional Hollywood buscadero rig, last seen in Winds of the Wasteland (1936), and began wearing a medium brown gunbelt with over-the-belt holster and narrow tapered billet. The fully carved and lined high-ride holster, with slight rearward cant and full skirt, featured a throat design that later became, with slight modifications, famous as Hollywood fast draw.

The 2 1/2" wide straight belt was fully carved and lined, and featured 30 bullet loops and distinctive tapered billet. The solid sterling silver buckle and tip demonstrate Wayne’s desire for authenticity. The engraved 1 1/2" clipped corner rectangular buckle is the famous #18 made by Ed Bohlin. The engraved sterling silver tip is similar to a Bohlin #358.

There has been much speculation concerning the origin of the holster and belt, including the possibility that they were made by the Bohlin Company. There is very good evidence the holster is actually a #714 third generation H. H. Heiser, and the belt, embellished with Bohlin silver, is a modified #40 series, also from Heiser. Although most western stars or studios of the time relied on the famous Hollywood leather crafters like Bohlin, Hamley or Ed Gilmore for their fancy leather outfits, it would be in keeping with Wayne’s sense of authenticity that he would go to one of the 19th century’s most famous leather companies for the true look of the Old West.

With this information in mind, the Angel and the Badman has tried to replicate the original Wayne rig, including silver design and engraving pattern, holster and belt design, and original carving pattern. Using old Heiser and Bohlin catalogues, Wayne movie histories, photographs, lobby cards and old videos, the Angel and the Badman evolved.

Using computer-enhanced blowups of Wayne wearing the original rig, exacting two-dimensional patterns were produced, carefully recreating the carving pattern. These were then cross checked with a Heiser catalogue of that era. A three-dimensional holster pattern was then created. Leather, carefully duplicating the type and weight used in the 1930s was selected, including the light-weight lining favored by Heiser for that special option. The cutting, carving, dyeing, finishing and sewing of the outfit was done completely by hand, with no mechanical or electrical tools being used.

The silver was carefully researched, again using computer enlargements and carefully comparing the work to a Bohlin catalogue of the era. The buckle and tip were then created by hand using sheet sterling silver, and exquisitely engraved, duplicating the original pattern. The Angel and the Badman is available for Colt SAA and clones.

 

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Legends in Leather
Jim Lockwood
8100 North Red Oak Road
Prescott, Arizona 86305
Phone: 928-717-2175
Fax: 928-717-0643
E-mail: jlockwood@legendsinleather.com