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Ahmad N Khan

Birth place or City of origin: British Guyana
State of origin:
Last known City: Hollywood
Last known State: CA
Start/Birth date:
Death/End date:

Ahmad remembers the plang of steel hammers as the Master Silversmiths molded and crafted pieces of precious metals into flowers, leaves and intricate curves imitating the beauty of nature eternally preserved in silver and gold. He revered these masters of trade as classical Italian sculptors, creating beauty out of raw marble harvested from the earth, except this time the marble became silver, gold and bronze. The smell of burning kilns is still vivid in Ahmad's memory when he served as an errand boy in the silver shops as a young boy growing up in British Guyana, before he was old enough to qualify as an apprentice.

Cowboys and their trusted horses, Western outlaws and heroes with their holsters, guns and spurs - all seemed like a fantasy world for young Ahmad. It seemed to be so far away, so out of reach, but he dreamed of someday heading up North to the land of America, the land of the cowboy.

At age sixteen, Ahmad was finally old enough to apply for an apprenticeship with one of the Master Silversmiths. He proved worthy of becoming an apprentice by showing the Masters his artistic talent in wood and ivory carvings he made during his breaks as an errand boy. Ahmad was somewhat apprehensive at first to show his talent in mere wood and ivory, but he apologized to the masters explaining that his means of life could not allow him to purchase valuable pieces of gold and silver in order to perform his carvings. The masters were immediately impressed with this young man's natural talent and perseverance when they saw that he had saved all of his earned money to purchase his own carving tools.

It was four years of hard, dedicated work and study under the Masters until Ahmad himself became a Master Smith. Under the master's teaching, Ahmad learned the centuries old secrets and tricks of the trade. He had mastered how to design, mold and copy any artistic form into gold or silver in the same perfected fashion of his mentors.

With his tools of knowledge and gifted talent, his original inspiration to become a silversmith would finally take Ahmad away from his homeland to the land of the cowboys. He would depart from his family on his voyage to the States, to become the artistic craftsman for cowboys.

Upon his arrival to America, Ahmad inquired about the great tradition and craftsmanship with the Bohlin Shop in Hollywood, California. He had learned of the Bohlin shop being the most exclusive and one of the largest silver shops in America, with a notable list of patrons. Mr. Bohlin was a legend in Hollywood who literally carved the way for the craftsman tradition. He rode with Buffalo Bill Cody and on the last stagecoach in this country. Tom Mix, Gary Cooper, Clark Gable and Buck Jones were just a few of his Hollywood patrons, not to mention the voluptuous Mae West who commissioned Mr. Bohlin to make a silver telephone for her personal use.

As protege to the famous Master Silversmith Bud Phillips, Ahmad reached popularity with Hollywood celebrities between 1981 and 1987. He created masterpieces of wearable art for such distinguished patrons as Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Gene Autry, Clayton "Lone Ranger" Moore, Montie Montana, Burt Reynolds, Clint Eastwood, Larry Hagman and even President Reagan. This list goes on to include other famous actors, politicians, musicians and cowboys. Ahmad is quick to share that President Reagan proudly wore his 4-piece, 3-color, 5-A, 18K gold and sterling silver buckle set during his presidency which was given to him as a gift by country singer Lee Greenwood. He was so impressed by the buckle that President Reagan personally called back to highly compliment the designer and craftsman of the piece. Texas Congressman Frank Tijeda once called Ahmad to personally praise him for his work saying that he constantly receives compliments for the craftsmanship and beauty of this custom silver buckle. "It gives me a sense of pride when I see a famous figure wearing my art pieces, knowing that my initials are on the back of the buckles that hold up the pants of some famous and influential people," Ahmad jokingly admits.

His first Hollywood break came when he was hired by the highly respected Bud Phillips at Bohlin Company to work on the project to make a replica of the famous Tom Mix spurs for actor/stuntman Dean Smith. The original spurs were hand crafted by Mr. Bohlin himself, but when he passed away in 1980, Bud Phillips searched for a Master Silversmith who had the ability to carry out the Bohlin tradition. He took Ahmad under his wings and fully trained him for making western wearable art. "I always admire seeing a young Master at work," Bud Phillips declared as he quietly observed the young master Ahmad at his workstation. Bud Phillips himself started in the early 1930s working for Hollywood legend Gene Autry, and worked with the Bohlin Company for over 44 years. From his home in Santa Barbara, Charles Sample, a fourth generation Silver and Goldsmith who is also considered to be one of the original Bohlin legends, likewise praises and respects the craftsmanship of Ahmad's work. When Mr. Sample once asked Ahmad about the passion and integrity he pours into his work, Ahmad simply responds, "It is an American Dream what I do... to glorify the American cowboy."

Currently, much of Ahmad's work can be found on display at the Gene Autry Museum, including Clayton Moore's spurs and holster buckle. The Gene Autry saddle is one of the most popular exhibits, which displays some of Ahmad's masterful skills of reconstruction.

Along with precious metals, Ahmad also works with precious stones to add a sparkle to his art. The most popular western pieces make use of diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires and topaz as ornamentation. Ahmad's claim to fame is the fact that he is able to reproduce any photograph or design into any desired specification on silver or gold. It is no wonder that Ahmad's artistic qualities have earned him the title of the "Michelangelo of Silver and Gold" for his museum quality and perfection.

I was an employee of the Bohlin Company as a master Goldsmith and Silversmith from 1981 through 1988, and an independent contractor doing work for them until 2002. I am no longer employed by the Bohlin Company. However as an independent Silversmith, I have made many special custom pieces for Bohlin Company as well as for reputable domestic and international companies. As a Master Goldsmith and Silversmith, my work speaks for itself. I am also featured in the book, "Bohlin Saddle Maker to the Stars," by James H. Nottage. He was formerly curator of the Gene Autry museum.

The wearable art of the Old West returns to life in the masterful hands of Ahmad Khan. The same hands that sculpted and carved the western look for the Hollywood cowboy is now made available to both private collectors and to the public at substantial savings directly from Ahmad. Ahmad's dream was finally fulfilled when he opened his own silver shop in Hollywood. Now patrons can have custom-designed wearable art crafted by a true Master Silversmith with the quality and authenticity expected only by private collectors. To preserve the lost art of Silversmithing, Ahmad, "The Legend", "The Myth", has re-educated qualified jewelers in the lost art of Gold and Silversmithing to perfect the art of his unique fabrication. His masterful skills will always preserve and be kept alive in every one of his pieces since they embody a part of him. "My work takes part of my body and spirit from me, each piece takes with it a part of my sight, my sweat, my muscle and tears." Private collectors and the general public are both welcome to contact Ahmad's Western Collectibles and speak to Ahmad himself by calling (323) 913-5813, or visit his silvershop at 1321 Talmadge Street in Hollywood, California 90027.

~Victor M. Ramirez, Freelance writer in Los Angeles, California (213) 663-9377

 

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