When it comes to collecting antique saddles, veteran saddlemaker Chuck Stormes has some simple advice, "Don't do anything to it that you can't undo."
Stormes, featured in this month's print feature, "Saddle Savvy," says often inexperienced collectors try to "fix" a well-used saddle and end up making the situation worse.
One of Stormes' worst days as a saddle afficiando came when he went to look at a D.E. Walker saddle (an originator of the Visalia Stock Saddle Company) that was for sale.
"At some point it had been taken in for repair to a local saddlemaker," Stormes says. "And the guy absolutely ruined it. They replaced the fenders-it was a full-flower-stamped saddle and they put plain fenders on it. The original fenders were probably thrown out."
On questioning the man about his choice to repair the saddle, the man answered, "It was in bad shape."
Simply because the saddle included the "D.E. Walker" stamp, Stormes bought it for $500. "It was a generous offer because the saddle was pretty much worthless at that point," Stormes says. "Had he not many 'repairs' the saddle would have been worth a minimum of $15,000.
"What a terrible day that was," Stormes admits. "I hate to see that type of thing and it was done strictly from a lack of knowledge about the subject."