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Grijalva

Birth place or City of origin: Magdelenda
State of origin: Mexico
Last known City:
Last known State:
Start/Birth date: 1914
Death/End date: 1994

Born in the small village of El Coyotillo (Magdalena, Mexico) in 1914, he worked on his parents' ranch where he learned to repair bits and engrave conchos. E G's earliest bits were somewhat crude often inlaid with shiny metal from old silverware. He met Vaquero author, Arnold Rojas in 1949 who helped refine and promote Grijalva's talent. According to L J Vasquez's article in the 1985 Western Horseman, Grijalva is regarded as one of the finer bit makers in North America with "every cheek piece, roller and mouthpiece made by hand – often taking 35-40 hours to complete a single bit."

Eduardo Grijalva was born on a ranch in the small village of El Coyotillo, Mexico, in 1914. It was here, while working for his parents as a ranch hand, that his interest in bit making developed. At age 20 (1934), he began repairing bits and engraving conchos. In 1939, Eduardo began making complete bits on a part-time basis to sell to local vaqueros. These early bits, though somewhat crude, were inlaid with shiny metal from old silverware and were made with spade mouthpieces and wide cheek -- more of a California vaquero than Mexican style. Grijalva continued making bits in El Coyotillo until 1944 when he moved his family to Magdalena. As the years passed, Eduardo's craftsmanship continued to improve and in 1948 he decided to dedicate his life's work to bit and spur making. His system for hand crafting each part was developed by trial and error and born from natural abiilty. In 1949, Grijalva met a California vaquero, Arnold Rojas who helped him refine his technique. Rojas was a true Californio who helped EG turn his craft into a true thing of beauty. Rojas would travel to Magdalena, gather up the finished bits and take them to the
U.S. to sell -- returning in a few months later for another load.
By 1950, Grijalva's business was in full swing producing high quality handmade bits while using the finest silver from a mine in Magdalena. Unfortunately, the mine was looted by bandits forcing Eduardo to begin buying bulk silver from US dealers. Eduardo Jr. and Juan worked beside their father making pieces from scratch with every cheekpiece, roller and mouthpiece cut and shaped by hand. EG claimed that it took 35-40 hours to make a bit and that their methods of heating and working iron made the mouthpieces taste more acceptable to the horse. Once a bit was completed, EG Sr examined the piece for craftsmanship, detail and balance. If the bit did not pass exact specifications, it was not sold. Prior to Eduardo Sr's death in 1994, has was frequently approached by various American firms to mass produce product. He consistently declined choosing instead to continue making bits the old way -- each one by hand.

 

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