Leatherworking History Up Close

Pictured above: Don King Saddle.

Here in my workshop, I have the old Al Stohlman books on leatherworking. When I was just starting out, these were my go-to books on how to make something new. Even now I refer to them for new (well… new to me) ways of constructing projects. If you’ve read these books, then this leather case might be familiar to you:

Al Stohlman Case

Where To See Al Stohlman Cases and other pieces from American Leatherworking History

When I attended the leatherworking trade show in Sheridan, Wyoming in May, I was also able to take a trip to King’s Saddlery.  This shop on the main street in Sheridan is famous for its high quality Kings Ropes. You can see rows and rows of them in their store.

Kings gets its name from Don King, an accomplished saddle maker, and his family who founded the store. Inside this vast store is also the Museum where I saw the work of Al Stohlman, Don King and many other talented artists. They have a vast collection of antique tools and saddles from the best western leatherworkers in the modern era.

Visiting the museum is a bit like like stepping into history. You can see how this type of leatherworking evolved and also how the tools have evolved over time. For example, I loved seeing this display of round knives and all of the various sizes and slight shape differences.

Head Knives Variations and Evolution

It’s hard to describe just how packed this small museum is. Nearly every square inch is covered with leatherworking examples and artifacts. There are so few places to see leatherworking history and I was thankful to have had the chance to see one of the best private museums dedicated to the subject. It’s worth checking out if you are in Sheridan.

Al Stohlmans saddle, made by Ann Stohlman.

One of the last saddles made by Don King.

8 replies on “Leatherworking History Up Close

  • Allison

    I have stumbled upon a very detailed leather and cow hide purse. I can’t find a thing on it, but the metal loops holding together the cowhide and leather detailed strap look to be almost like sterling silver with etched designs and on back says Al Stohlman brand with a symbol looks like a 2? This purse looks very old. I just can’t find another one or even anything similar? Any ideas on this?

  • Lisa

    I found this at a thrift store on the back it is stamped Don King, a number, then it looks like Cullman, Al. Anybody have any ideas? Don’t know how to add a photo either. It looks like a small phone case. Thanks for any help you can on the origin.


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