Lot 582: Bohlin Saddle, Martingale and Headstall

Neal Auction Company

December 3, 2016, 10:00 AM CST
New Orleans, LA, US
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Description: Governor Jimmie H. Davis Tooled Leather and Sterling Silver Bohlin Saddle, Martingale and Headstall, stamped "Bohlin made, Hollywood, Calif., Sterling", with silver nameplate "Jimmie H. Davis", LA governor 1944-1948 and 1960-1964, Edward Bohlin, silversmith; together with You Are My Sunshine: The Jimmie Davis Story by Gus Weill (Pelican, 1991), autographed by Jimmie Davis after an appearance at Mel Tillis Theatre, Branson, MO, Nov. 17, 1991 and Jimmie Davis, More Than Sunshine by Kenny Gill (Sweet Dreams, 2000); accompanied by provenance documentation incl.: letter from Jimmie Davis to Kenny [Gill], dated Dec. 22, 1980; letter from Kenny Gill to Earl [Northrup], dated Oct. 7, 1992; autographed photograph from Kenny Gill to Earl and Mrs. Northrup; letter from Audie W. Northrup, dated Mar. 28, 2013; and paperwork from Rio Grande Trading Co. Provenance: with Buck Jones (1891-1942), soldier, racecar driver, cowboy, Hollywood stuntman, and Western movie star; by descent to his wife, actress Odille Osborne; to Jimmie H. Davis (1899 -2000), singer, songwriter, and two-term Louisiana Governor (1944-48 and 1960-64), c. 1942; to Kenny Gill (aka Walker Kenny Guillot, 1936-2010), world class guitarist inducted into The Louisiana Music Hall of Fame, The Rockabilly Hall of Fame, The North American Country Music Hall of Fame, and The Order of Living Legends, 1980 or 1981; to Earl W. Northrup (1934-2012), proprietor of world famous Earl's Drive-In and Country Music Park, Chaffee, NY, offering “food for the body, music (including performances by Jimmie Davis) for the soul,” 1992; by descent to his heir and executor, Audie W. Northrup; to Bruce Bartlett, Western Americana collector, author and proprietor of Rio Grande Trading Co., San Antonio, TX, 2013; to Private Collector, Louisiana. Note: Leaving his home in Sweden at age 15 to immigrate to America, Edward Bohlin dreamed of horses, cowboys, and the Wild West. His visions of cowboy life were made a reality as he found work in Montana herding cattle. Finally settling in Cody, Wyoming, Bohlin opened a shop selling saddles and silver accessories of his own creation; the Edward H. Bohlin Company operated from the 1920s to the 1980s. During that time, Bohlin crafted elaborate saddles, in addition to spurs, holsters, buckles, bolos, and various accoutrements. Gaining popularity during the golden age of Hollywood Western films, Bohlin was called upon to outfit celebrities such as Mae West, Hopalong Cassidy, and Ronald Reagan. Before he began his political career, Louisiana Governor James “Jimmie” Davis had gained critical acclaim for his musical skills. Recording many country-western albums in the 1930s and 1940s, Davis also acted in several films, usually playing the part of a singing cowboy with his famous horse, Sunshine. For these roles, Sunshine wore the Bohlin saddle offered here, that Davis had purchased from the wife of Buck Jones, the famous Western movie star. Jones, with more than 160 film credits to his name, used the saddle in many of his roles. This “Louisiana-style” saddle features square skirts, elaborately tooled leather and intricately engraved sterling silver accents with conchos throughout. Born into extreme poverty to sharecropping parents in Beech Springs, Louisiana, Davis valued his education and graduated from high school in Winnfield, Louisiana and earned his Bachelor’s degree from Louisiana College in Pineville, as well as his Master’s degree from Louisiana State University. In addition to his singing and acting work, he also served as a teacher and court clerk before seeking public office. His most popular song, “You Are My Sunshine,” which was written as an ode to his beloved palomino, was well known by the time Davis ran for Governor of Louisiana in 1944, and he would ride Sunshine, singing the song while campaigning. After a successful first term and a twelve year hiatus, Davis sought the governorship again. Upon winning the general election in 1960, Davis rode Sunshine up the steps of the Louisiana State Capitol, singing his song in victory. Davis’ accomplishments as governor include instituting mandatory licensing for all automobile drivers, building hospitals and roads, repairing infrastructure, and raising teacher salaries. However, it is likely the image of him on Sunshine, wearing a white cowboy hat and singing “You Are My Sunshine” for which Davis is best known. Ref.: Weill, Gus. You Are My Sunshine: the Jimmie Davis Story. Waco, TX: Word Books, 1977.
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