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Merrill Aristocrat—History of the Spur

75. LACY, Charles de Lacy. The History of the Spur. [London]: Published by The Connoisseur (Otto Limited) [colophon: Printed by Bemrose & Sons, Limited, London and Derby], n.d. [ca. 1905]. vi, [2], 81 [1] pp., 50 plates (illustrations of historical spurs), a few text illustrations. 4to, original burgundy cloth, gilt illustration of spur on upper cover, gilt lettering on spine and upper cover. Light shelf wear (at extremities and lower corners), mild browning along endpaper gutters, otherwise very fine and bright.

     First edition. Adams, Herd 1293: “Scarce.” Merrill, Aristocrats of the Cow Country, p. 17. One Hundred Head Cut Out of the Jeff Dykes Herd 64: “From wooden spurs to metal spurs, from the simple to the ornate, Lacy traces one of the equestrian’s most important aids. The 47 [sic] plates provide a pictorial history.”  This history traces the numerous changes in detail of form, size, and ornament of the spur, from the simple form of short spike in the Roman period to the elaborately ornamental implements of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and the return to the simpler form of the present day.  There is a chapter on eccentric forms.  The work is usually cited as having 46 or 47 plates, but there are actually 50 plates with 78 figures of examples from ancient Greek and Roman times to present, including Etruscan, Moorish, Mexican, German, etc.  Most of the examples are reproduced at actual size.

     Of the Mexican spur, the author remarks: “There remains to be described a form of spur which, from its size and weight and imposing appearance, has always been  readily sought by collectors,  and of which specimens are to be found in nearly every museum.  I refer to Mexican spurs. The old-fashioned Mexican spur had two great characteristics; one a large heel-plate, generally ornamental with perforations to save weight, and the other a peculiarly shaped opening in the thick curved neck–which opening, for want of a better word, I will call kidney-shaped.  This last is an invariable characteristic of spurs of Mexican origin, and can be seen more or less clearly in the cow-boys’ spurs of the present day...  The Moors left many traces of their influence among the Spaniards, and this round heel-plate is one of them.  It does not seem to have lasted so very long in Spain itself, but it was taken  to Mexico by Cortes and his followers, and has remained there to the present day” (p. 57). ($500-1,000)

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