About Silver Dollar Leather

The Short Version

My name is Bobby, I make stuff out of leather, real leather. I use classic coin hardware on most of my items. I design all the pieces from the ground up. I make the patterns, buy the leather, cut it, punch it, assemble and stitch it, attach any hardware, package and mail it - all by hand in the good old U.S.A.

indiana jonesThe Really Long Version

You could say that Indian Jones started it all. You know that cool satchel he wears on all his adventures (... it's not a purse, it's a satchel...), I always wanted one of those. Some quick internet sleuthing revealed that the bag used in the films was a MkVII British Gas Mask Bag with a leather strap. So I went on the hunt, hitting every Army-Navy shop for 50 miles. I found some really great heavy leather shoulder straps and figured I was halfway there, but as for the bag - No luck. The originals were from WWII and had been snatched up long ago - I'm sure most by those on a similar quest - anything close was either a cheap overseas knockoff, or was... funky... (you know, that smell surplus gear takes on after it's been sitting in a dank warehouse for a couple decades, the rubberized lining has started to decay and who knows how many diseased rodents used it as a....) ...we'll just leave it at funky.

I started to look at what else was out there that would look just as cool (Let's face it, it's all about the cool). I started lusting after some incredible leather bags, I mean these things were beautiful. The problem was, I really couldn't justify spending a whole month's rent on a bag (especially with my first born on the way). Then I started thinking, I already had the strap, and I had done some tinkering with leatherwork when I was younger, how hard could it be to just make a bag (famous last words).

I found a leather wholesaler that had a really good selection of quality leather. Unfortunately, most high quality leather is sold by the side (ie. half a cow), and the good stuff ain't cheap. (I finally realized why those beautiful leather bags cost so much). Lucky for me, the shop also sold left over leather scraps by the pound. I scavenged through the bins of scraps and found enough pieces to make my bag. I was on my way.

Now most of my "leather work" experience had been using prepunched templates and stitching them up with sinew (that heavy black waxy thread). It gives the pieces a certain "old west outlaw-cowboy" look, not quite Indiana Jones, but I'm sure he would have approved. After a failed search for sinew - I picked up some heavy upholstery thread and a leather needle (a real hardcore needle with 3 razor sharp edges on the tip), made some quick measurements in my head, cut the leather and spent the next 2 months cutting up my hands and fingers with the bad ass needle hand sewing that bag by hand. 

Around the same time, my little guy was born (best thing in the whole world - I love that lil guy!). A good friend of mine had sent my boy an American Silver Eagle coin. I had wanted to start putting some money away for my son's future, and since the economy was taking a dump, the silver coin thing seemed like a good idea. I quickly discover that silver coins ain't cheap either (though back then, they were much cheaper than they are today).

The first coin I bought was an 1881 Morgan Silver Dollar. And so I dove into the world of numismatics. With so many different coins, and the high number of counterfeit coins out there (and I'm not just talking about the guys in the home depot parking lot, you'd be surprised how many fake coins you'll come across in the shops too) I decided to focus on the Morgan Silver Dollars. I learned everything I could about them and how to spot a fake. Armed with my new knowledge, I hit the shops, many of the wrong ones, until I found a few good reliable places. 

indiana jones
With my bag almost complete, and My obsession with the Morgan in full swing, I thought the bag would look real cool (again with the coolness) with Morgans as buttons. I couldn't quite bring myself to take a hammer to one of my prized Morgans yet, so I did my experimenting on some replicas. After some trial and error and more hunting, I found the perfect Morgan replica conchos. They even had the date of the first coin I bought, 1881, and it was much easier than pounding and soldering. I had to buy the conchos in bulk, but only needed 2 for the bag, so I started tinkering with other projects using the remaining Morgan conchos.

After my marathon finger cutting with the first bag, I decided to hunt down some sinew and go back to the classic look I was used to. At the same time, I was starting to work with garment patterns at a sportswear manufacturer and thought it a good idea to make patterns for my pieces. This proved invaluable as I was more and more frequently getting stopped and asked where I got the bags, pouches and cuffs I was wearing. Word of mouth was starting to spread, and Silver Dollar Leather was born.

Soon I was buying full hides of the good leather and ordering those Morgan conchos in bulk. I now have dozens of different items and am constantly creating more. Take a look around, I hope you see something you like.

Be sure to follow me on your social media of choice to stay updated on new products and craft fairs and shows in your area where you can see and buy my Silver Dollar Leather items in person.

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