About Hamley & Co
1883 to 2007
The Hamley family history goes back many generations to Cornwall England, where the trade of saddle and leather craftsmanship had been passed down through many generations of Hamleys. The American history of the Hamleys began in 1840 when William Hamley moved his family from England to Ripon, Wisconsin, where he opened a small leather goods store. William’s two sons, John James (J.J.) and Henry Hamley set out from Wisconsin in 1883 with two railroad tickets and $10.00 in cash, bound for Ashton, South Dakota, where they established Hamley & Co. After three successful years, regional crop failures and economic depression forced them to relocate and move to Kendrick, Idaho. Henry Hamley passed away in 1894. Business was good, but a couple of major building fires left the Hamleys no choice but to relocate. In 1905, J.J. relocated to Pendleton, Oregon, and set up shop on the Oregon Trail in the same building that it occupies to this day. Hamley's was first known as a harness and saddle maker, but the business soon developed and increased around its saddles and became known throughout the west as the maker of “the finest saddles man could ride.”
OTHER SIGNIFICANT HAMLEY HISTORICAL EVENTS
1905—J.J.’s son Lester joined the firm.
1909—Lester convinced a “skeptical” J.J. to publish the first “Hamley Cowboy Catalog." Annual publication and distribution of the Hamley catalog continued for sixty years and became a trusted source of quality western products for families across America. Old Hamley catalogs are highly collectible today.
1910—J.J. Hamley was instrumental in organizing the first Round-Up and served as a director for many years. Over the years, Hamley & Co. has provided over eighty Round-Up trophy saddles. Many world champions have ridden Hamley saddles. (And many still do.)
1919—Following the 1919 Round-Up, rodeo organizers from around the region agreed that a standard bronc saddle was needed for all rodeo saddle bronc competitions. Hamley developed and produced the "modified association saddle" as a solution to "level the playing field" for saddle bronc competitors . This same saddle is used today in rodeos.
1920—Hamley operated its own saddle tree shop. Many of the tree patterns and designs in use today were created in that shop.
1928—The Hamley kit was developed. Scrap saddle leather provided the material for the Hamley kit (a leather shaving kit). The kit was sold in over 1200 locations across the United States. Hamley & Co. also produced and sold leather belts across the nation. Such stores as Macy's, Bloomingdale’s and Sacks Fifth Ave. carried Hamley products.
1939—J.J. passed away at the age of 80.
1952—Major renovation of the Hamley building was done by Lester and his son David.
1961—Lester retired and David continued business.
1980—David sold the business and building to a Portland businessman.
2005—After watching Hamley & Co. struggle for years, Parley Pearce and Blair Woodfield became interested in rescuing the failing business. Both men had grown up in cattle ranching families and were intimately familiar with Hamley cowboy gear. Visiting the Hamley store was considered a special event. They were both aware of the quality and tradition represented by the Hamley name. They, along with countless patrons, mourned the demise of Hamley's. So they acquired the building, business, trademark rights and the Hamley name, all in separate deals, which finally allowed Hamley & Co. to once again operate as in days gone by. With pride, they began the resurrection of this great western icon.
Pearce and Woodfield oversaw the dramatic renovation of the building that resurrected aspects of Hamley & Co. as it existed 1905, incorporating the changes from the 1950’s. After six months of construction, the company reopened in September, 2005, one week before Round-Up and just in time to celebrate the “first century” of Hamley & Co. in Pendleton, Oregon.
Hamley & Co. has been known as the maker of "the finest hand made saddles money can buy." Quality hand made Hamley saddles are made today in the same location and with many of the same techniques that Hamley saddle makers used a hundred years ago. Hamley's still produces and sells Hamley kits and belts, as well as quality silver items. All custom Hamley goods feature the "Barrel H"—the logo and symbol of quality since 1910. Hamley's goal is to bring the Hamley name back to national prominence, sell products online and again distribute the Hamley Cowboy Catalog.
Every Hamley catalog contained the saying that became synonymous with Hamley quality:
“QUALITY ARTICLES ARE MADE FOR MEN WHO ARE TIRED
OF THE EXTRAVAGANCE OF BUYING CHEAP THINGS."
Welcome to Hamley & Co! Join us in this exciting adventure. We are proud to have you, too, “Ride for the Brand."
To all of you, from all of us at Hamley & Co., thank you and Happy Shopping!