The exquisite saddle on display, designed by Charles Pizarro Martinez (aka Charlie or C.P.), was 60 years in the making! The saddle, envisioned by Martinez in the early 1930s’ was to be a
centerpiece for his showroom emphasizing the detailed hand engraved stamped sterling for which Martinez became famous for. It is a masterpiece, many of the silver pieces made over 50 years ago complimented by contemporary and custom tooled leather.
|Martinez Saddle In 2013 Rose Parade
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Unfortunately, Martinez died before he could finalize the mounting. The family held on to all the pieces and the saddle tree and in 2008, his son Chuck (one of Martinez’s ten children) brought together a collaborative group of well-known silversmiths and leather workers , including Sunset Trails and Bob Scott , completing his father’s dream saddle as a birthday present for his mother Eleanor’s 90th birthday.
The Martinez/McCabe saddle named in memory of Charles Martinez and in honor of the respected silversmith John McCabe with whom he apprenticed and whose business he purchased in 1938; is a true Western designed parade saddle with a mix of antique silver and new leather using traditional patterns and representative color choices of Martinez. The saddle is an exquisite example of the best in Western saddle making.
Martinez’s widow, Eleanor, now 94, offered to share this beautiful saddle with the Cowboy western film community. The saddle has been placed on display by family members on behalf of their mother, and in memory of their father Charlie and their brother Chuck, who finalized the saddle and passed away a month after its completion, and is proudly exhibited in the Lone Pine Film History Museum’s main gallery.
McCabe Silversmiths established in Southern California by John McCabe, catered to the Hollywood Cowboy era of the 1930’s and 1940’s. McCabe, who started the company in 1923, brought on a young Charles Martinez in the early 30’s as an apprentice.
In 1938, after McCabe’s death, Martinez purchased the business expanding the silver line to include bolos, tie slides, saddle trimmings and conchos in addition to their popular ranger & trophy buckles and western jewelry. Martinez designed and mounted saddles through this period designing silver for many Hollywood stars including Gene Autry, Dale Robertson and Roy Rogers to name a few becoming known in the industry as the “World’s Finest Silversmith.”
The McCabe/Martinez saddles were spectacular, especially the intricate and frequently photographed “Ms. Musick” saddle. The Ms. Musick saddle was “premiere" in terms of its jewelry. At the
time of construction in 1931 it cost $20,000 and took six months for 16 silversmiths to produce. Part of this team was young Charles Martinez who worked on this saddle at the age of sixteen.
It contains more than 1,400 ounces of silver, 136 ounces of gold and 500 rubies. Roy Rogers, who first saw it at a Rose Parade, purchased it in 1949 for $50,000.He then brought the saddle to Martinez and asked him to customize it for him as he knew that Charlie has worked on it originally. It was not the one that Roy rode in most of his movies or appearances but it did become Roy Rogers’ calling card and his best silver parade saddle, and went on tour throughout the country drawing crowds everywhere.
In 2002, the saddle market was stunned when the Rogers saddle, one of five on display at the Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Museum in Victorville, CA, fetched $412,000 at the annual High Noon auction. It stands as the highest price ever paid for a saddle at auction in the U.S.
When Martinez died in 1960 his widow sold the company and dies to Bob Stanton of Sunset Trails who continues in operation today honoring the tradition of silversmithing of the long established Stanton family and the heritage of McCabe and Martinez.
High Noon on McCabe Martinez