I recently made a new leather cover for a Nagel saddle. I didn’t have anything to work from for this rather unusual saddle, other than a few pictures of original saddles on the internet, and my 1886 Nagel catalogue…quite handy!
This type of saddle was a patented design, by G.Rothgiesser. They first appeared in 1884/5, the American patent (above) coming later. The leather is in two sections, joined by leather thonging. When the leather stretches it is possible to re-tension the saddle by tightening the cords and securing them by way of the fixing attached to the pan. The pan is unique, being of an unusual shape and having a hole drilled for the fixing to tie off the end of the cord.
There are a number of variations during the time they were produced, both in shape and in the number of eyelets. For instance, some have four eyelets on each side of the front section, instead of the three on others, including in the patent drawing above.
Clearly ventilation was good, but I would be concerned about chafing of the nether regions by the thonging. In the catalogue, the company publishes a testimonial from Thomas Marriott, who used the saddle on his Land’s End to John O’Groats ride of 1007 miles on a tricycle, in 1885. He states that “…it is one of the best saddles yet brought out”, although claims like this were two a penny in Victorian times! It is an interesting novelty and a fine example of some original thinking in early saddle design.
Making a new leather cover for one of these is challenging and time consuming. Cutting the wavy pattern is tricky, and there is a lot of edge finishing work, as well as the installation of 16 eyelets. The customer in this case asked for the finish to have an ‘aged’ look.
I’ve been busy with saddle work recently!….
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