TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Help Needed Identifying Horse Tack on Vintage Printing Blocks

I recently acquired a bunch of printing blocks from a local Paducah resident. They are from a harness business that closed in the 1950's. Although I now live in Kentucky horse country, I have no clue as to the particulars of horse business.... The blocks were used to produce catalogs similar to the one pictured above. I was able to find information online on one of the suppliers, A.D. Jackson Saddlery, as the block, very similar to the horse collar in the above catalog has a stamp with that name on it. Fred B. McAfoos & Co. has a nice historical page which describes how the family business evolved. Today, they sell lawnmowers and outdoor power tools.

Fred B. McAfoos of Benton, IL in his harness shop

Fred B McAfoos opened his business in Benton sometime around 1918. Previously he had worked with his father and brother Ollie in a retail lumber business in Whittington Il. It is said that most of the lumber that originally built Sesser Il came from the Whittington yard. In 1918 a spark from a passing locomotive started a fire that completely destroyed the lumber yard, after that, Fred moved his family to Benton and started a new venture.

The new business was located on East Church near the C & EI railroad office and sold feed and farm stead equipment. In his first year of operation Fred sold 50 Delker Brother’s buggies, the next year he only sold 2. It was the end of an era and the beginning of the mechanization of agriculture. Feed, flour, and cream separators were the main commodities sold, much of which was delivered by horse drawn wagons. In the 30’s Fred added a harness shop, and in the 40’s moved just east of the old Webster JR High School in Benton. The harness shop finally closed in the 50’s but the feed and equipment business remained in the same location until 1968.

I listed the blocks I could identify on Etsy, but am stumped on several others. I love old things in general, but I find these blocks especially interesting and would like to get more of them if I can move the ones I got. Etsy's search system is made up of tags that describe the item, so it's important that I use the right words to describe these blocks. I imagine they will be of special interest to anyone who loves horses, Western and Southern history, and printing techniques. The blocks are still in decent shape and can be used on both paper and fabric using a brayer and inks. Maybe someday I'll have the time to play with them and see what happens.

Meanwhile, if you know what the correct names for the items below, it would be a great help to me. Leave a description in the comment section referring to the item by number. The more specific the description, the better. We have 14 keywords to use per item on Etsy, so if a horse harness has a certain function, then it would be good to know that. In my ignorance, I imagine there are items that might be for show while others for work and that there are distinctions by type as in English and Western saddles.








I also sell textile stamps from Central Asia, so if you are a printer, make sure to take a look at my selection. They are vintage but functional and a favorite among artists working with fabric, batik, clay, and paper.


1 comment:

  1. It would help if you made prints of these so we could see them right-ways. Anyway, not 100% sure on #1 but it may be a back strap and tie down- the tie down is to the right and connects to the chin strap of the bridle at the top and the girth at the bottom and keeps the horse from throwing it's head; #2 is a headstall (part of a bridle). The loop to the left is the browband. #3 will have to be printed, I can't tell but it may be an overcheck bridle that is used to keep a horse's head properly positioned. #4 may be a breast plate or it could be a belly band; I've just never seen them with clips instead of buckles; #5 is a bridle and reins with blinkers to keep the horse from seeing to the sides or behind it. #6 is a crupper, it goes under the horse's tail and keeps the harness from sliding forward. #7 may be tugs- they attach from the collar to whatever is being pulled. I think #8 is a front view of the harness with back- and belly-band showing the rings the reins go through- the things hanging down on either side are what the shafts go through.

    Not 100% on all but I think I am pretty close. I never had driving or pulling horses but had lots of friends who did.



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