Society & Culture

American Artisan

Whenever Robert Valade embarked on a commissioned piece, or simply took his hammer and chisel to cut an exquisitely fashioned design into a gift for a friend, he first bowed his large head and prayed to God to help him finish the job right.  It was a simple ritual Robert performed some 14,000 times during a 45-year career as a master engraver, a calling that followed his adolescent adventures breaking horses, riding bulls, and flying small planes in and around his birthplace of La Grande in eastern Oregon.  Like many others, in time I was lucky enough to receive an elegant silver ID tag with my initials etched on one side and, more importantly, the trademark “V” on the other, along with a card that hoped I “wouldn’t mind” Robert sending “this trinket, which comes with my best wishes and affection.”  The charm and generosity of this note, not to mention the gift itself, were typical of a man who was sensitive, honest, patriotic, God-fearing, monogamous, plainspoken, and humble, and thus in every way the antithesis of the self-esteem crowd who have so thoroughly hijacked our culture.

Robert Valade passed away at age 75 on November 1, 2016.

While most engravers turned to quicker and easier machine methods, Robert stuck with the old ways of hand-cutting designs into guns, knives, saddles, jewelry, belt buckles, and just about anything else that people cared to bring him. ...

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