Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Horsehair Coats and Woolies

Bob models his grandfather's horsehair coat.
 As always, you can click on the picture to make it bigger and hit the back button to return to the blog.

A nice warm collar!
The summer after I was married back in 1960, I was checking out an old log shed at the ranch.  I  was thinking of cleaning it out to make it an extra bunk house for company.  In it I found 2 beautiful horsehair coats still in the cleaners bags and a pair of angora chaps.  I asked Bob what the story was on these items and here's what I learned.
The company that made these coats from Grandfather's horse hides.

Look at the long hair on this horse's hide!

Button detail on this coat.
The dark heaviest coat belonged to Bob's Grandfather, George Manville.  Lorena Manville, his grandmother, owned the reddish small coat.  The hides were from horses that had died at the ranch on  the west side of North Park, Colorado, and were skinned.  The skins were sent to Ede's Robe and Tanning Co. in Iowa to be made into these beautiful coats.  We do not have the exact dates but they were made in the 1890s.

Pocket detail on Grampa's coat.
Back view

Side view
A well made lining with soft leather under the arms and an inside pocket.


I model this beautiful coat.  It is quite heavy but not nearly as heavy as Grampa's!

Back view of this coat.

The bottom two buttons are kind of plastic.  I'm not sure they had plastic buttons back then though....

A very well made lining that looks quilted but isn't!

Another look at the lining.

A crocheted button up near the neck.
We kept those coats without ever using them or even getting them out until we moved off the ranch in 1988.  Our daughter Jeanette took them to Laramie,WY where her son Micah showed them to his class at school.  They kept the coats and chaps and took them to Elko, NV when they moved there in 1990.  Jeanette has taken them to show her second grade class every year during Cowboy Poetry Week.  The coats have been drying out for the last 110 years and have become quite fragile.  Jeanette's husband , Ozzie, talked to an Indian friend of his who has worked with hides for most of his life and he feels they could be saved with proper care and the right storage conditions.  We are hoping to find some place that can give them the care they need.

The Angora chaps that we have were made by Bob's Uncle, Clarance Manville, for Bob's father, Harry Manville.  He made them in 1930 for Harry's birthday.

Wow! Woolie angora chaps!

A close up of the angora.  Notice the hand tooled belt.

Reverse side shows the fitted leggings.  You can tell these were really used!
* I took these pictures and wrote up this history for Linda Carlson to look at. She is curator at the Avenir Museum on the campus of Colorado State University.  We are hoping they can use them and maybe keep them from drying out and cracking.  It would be a shame to have the hair fall out or have them fall apart!


  1. Those woolie chaps are great! I didn't realize all the history behind the coats..


  2. I think Anne Marie may have found a home for your coats and Chaps. They will look beautiful among the other very precious bits of Western History at the BBHC.


  3. Penny, what did the museum send you guys in the mail that I forwarded you? Was it an appraisal?

  4. Hi Bob,

    I am the great grand daughter of David Ede who owned Edes Tanning Company. That's really neat to see the Edes coat! They were really warm and Edes even made a coat for a North pole explorer.

    I am posting your blog on my blog at:

    Thank you for posting the photos!


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