Bill Maloy was a renowned saddle maker and silversmith. He opened his first saddle shop in Reno in 1959 at the age of 22, and continued to build hand-crafted saddles, prized and collected, as well as used by cowboys and celebrities up until a few months before his passing in March 2011.
Maloy was born in 1936 in Visalia, California, a center of vaquero-style saddle making and silver engraving, giving him a head start in his profession. He began making saddles while working at his parents’ pack station, and later studied at the College of the Sequoias and Fresno State University, graduating with an art degree.
Maloy apprenticed with Bill Rogers and Stanley Diaz, saddle makers who had worked at the famous Visalia Stock Saddle Company. His solid background in the floral carving and intricately engraved silver decorations define the buckaroo style of horse gear.
During his 50-year career, Bill earned a reputation as one of the most acclaimed members of his profession, with a long list of accolades and awards. He retired to Washoe Valley, but continued to make fine saddles and teach the art of saddle making. He kept his hand in the cowboy world through his membership in the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association, a juried organization of some of the finest gear makers in the country. In 2002, he received the Will Rogers Award as the Academy of Western Artists’ Saddle Maker of the Year. In 2004, he was inducted into the prestigious Traditional Cowboy Arts Association at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. Bill was the recipient of the Nevada Governor’s Art Award for Excellence in Folk Arts in 2006.