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Chuck and Juan

Chuck and Juan looking at patterns

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Chuck and Juan

Ricardo

Eduardo Grijalva, Sr. began building bits and spurs in his rustic, open air shop in Magadalena, Mexico in 1944. Before coming to Magdalena, he had been repairing bits and making conchos for nearly 10 years. Those early bits were made on traditional patterns favored by the Mexican Vaqueros. The silver used on those bits were inlaid with silver acquired from discarded eating utensils. Noted authority on the history of the California Vaquero, Arnold Rojas, made Eduardo’s acquaintance in 1949. From that time on, Eduardo’s work focused on the style of bits traditionally preferred by California horsemen.

Among his customers in 1950 was legendary California horseman, Dick Deller, who frequently purchased Grijalva bits at The New Mickey Mouse Store located in Nogales. Eduardo’s bits gained further recognition when they were advertised in Ed Connell’s Carroll Saddle Company catalogs. Issued from the 1960’s to 1980, these catalogs became the equivalent of a cowboy wish book at many ranches. The undisputed star attraction of the catalogs were the Grijalva bits and spurs. Many a cowboy saved up his wages until he could order an EG bit. Word soon spread that not only were they good to look at, these were bits that were also good to use. Horses seemed to like them as much as their riders.

Even though Eduardo passed away in 1994, his method of building a truly handmade bits and spurs did not die with him. His sons Juan Adolfo Grijalva and Eduardo Grijalva Jr., grew up working in side by side with their father learning his techniques for building bits and spurs. Following the deaths of his father and brother Eduardo, Jr., Juan continues to build bits and spurs in the same shop his father worked in the last 48 years of his life. Like his father, Juan has earned the reputation as a master bit and spur maker. Like his father, Juan marks his creations with the famous EG* stamp. Juan does not advertise nor ship his work, yet the demand for his product far outweighs the supply.

The third generation of Grijalva bit makers is represented by Juan’s nephew, Eduardo’s grandson, Ricardo Valencia-Grijalva. who began learning the family trade by working with his grandfather Eduardo and his uncle Juan in the family workshop in Magdalena. Following his grandfather’s death, Ricardo continued to work along side his uncle Juan. In 2004, Ricardo left the shop built by his grandfather and began working on his own. Today, Ricardo has gained recognition as a master in his own right. The waiting list for Ricardo’s bits and spurs is approximately 3 years. Ricardo marks his bits and spurs with the L5* mark. The star in the mark plays homage to Eduardo Sr., the L5 to the livestock brand used by his paternal grandfather.

Juan and Ricardo still used the time tested techniques of Eduardo Sr. All Grijalva bits are cut from a piece of iron using a simple hammer and chisel. The mouthpieces are forged from one piece of iron, even the spades. The rich blue color is born among the coals of an old-time forge. They even make the charcoal used in the forges. All the inlays are cut by hand. The silver used in the inlays is converted from an ingot to a sheet by use of a hand crank silver roller. In a world of short cuts and mass production, you can be assured that bits bearing the mark of Juan or Ricardo were constructed using methods found in centuries past.

Please note other indiividuals have used this story written by Shirl Woodson without permisson.

MakerMarks

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Eduardo Grijalva, Sr.

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Juan Grijalva

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Ricardo Valencia-Grijalva