The man whose permanent collection is Craig’s Cowboy and Gunfighter Museum took his sunset tour late last year, but a new honor ensures he won’t be long forgotten.
Bill Mackin, a longtime resident of Northwest Colorado, was recently inducted into the National Bit, Spur & Saddle Collectors Association Hall of Fame. For years, Mackin has organized tours and held exhibitions at Craig’s Museum of Northwest Colorado.
Mackin died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease and COVID-19 last November, but he received the award posthumously. To be considered for the Hall of Fame, another member of the organization must nominate and submit a candidate to the Board of Directors for consideration.
NBSSCA board member Don Bailey nominated Mackin for the Hall of Fame and said he had no trouble thinking of Mackin when asked who to suggest for recognition.
“Bill Mackin was one of a kind,” Bailey said. “We had very few in our group who did what he did.”
The NBSSCA, founded in 1980, is an association of about 1,000 members across the United States who collect objects associated with Old West art and artifacts. Each year, the NBSSCA Board of Directors invites nominations from members for entry into the Hall of Fame. The number of inductees varies from year to year, but this year there were two inductees: Mackin and John Upton Holden.
Bailey said that over the years, Mackin has exemplified the NBSSCA’s mission to preserve the history of the American West. During the shows, Bailey said Mackin is an expert who can answer almost any story question you ask him.
“He was a unique character – somewhat blunt – but definitely an expert on Old West stuff,” Bailey said. “I think almost everyone felt like they could ask Bill a question, and he’ll probably know the answer.” And be ready for a few minutes as he will explain this to you in depth. It’s going to take a little while because he wasn’t going to do something halfway. “
Mackin was also the founder and curator emeritus of the Cowboy and Gunfighter Museum, part of the Museum of Northwest Colorado, and he had published hundreds of articles on the American West, including articles in The Tombstone Epitaph, Frontier Magazine and The Western Horseman. . Found in many historical writings of the region, Mackin was known as a trusted source in Northwest Colorado.
“Most (of the artifacts) (Mackin’s) were bought with his own money and put it all together,” Bailey added. “In the beginning, his goal was to set it up for people to see and understand what he loved about the Old West – not just Colorado, but the entire western United States.”
Dan Davidson, director of the Museum of Northwest Colorado, said the Mackin Prize solidifies the importance of his collection to the history of the Old Western.
“It helps add real validity to what this collection means for the community, for Northwest Colorado and overall for the collection arena,” Davidson said. “When it comes to everything from spurs and bits to saddles and gun leather, this is an incredible collection that Bill has spent his entire life creating. “
Davidson said Mackin wanted to share his collection with the community. In the 1990s, they therefore made an agreement to keep his entire collection in one place. Mackin’s collection has since grown into one of the museum’s biggest advertising media, Davidson said.
“He wanted a place where his collection could be displayed and people could see it,” Davidson said. “He was excited that his legacy was going to be permanent. When most people collect things their whole life, there’s a big auction, and it’s all gone. Everything is scattered. So he was excited that he was going to stay in one piece.