This item was recently donated to History Colorado, and usually draws an initial reaction of "what in the world...?" After researching the item, our curatorial staff discovered that this artifact is an example of "A Bucking Goat." These contraptions were used in the early 1900s for initiations and pranks in fraternal organizations (Freemasons referred to the event as ‘Riding the Goat’). The initiate rode this mechanical goat, which rotates and spins under the control of someone other than the rider. Options like electrified stirrups or water spraying attachments could also be used.
This goat was originally covered with wool fleece. Most of the fleece has worn off, indicating that it was likely well-used. A set of goat or ram's horns is mounted on the top of the leather-harnessed head. Originally, there were two glass or celluloid eyes mounted into the face, but only one glass eye remains. Encircling the goat's neck is a leather collar with scalloped edges. A multi-layered leather rosette with a leather tassel is attached to the front of the collar.
In the early 1900s, fraternal organization supply companies saw a business opportunity in manufacturing stunt props like the bucking goat, exploding chairs, etc. Old advertisements, like this one (right) from DeMoulin Brothers & Company of Greenville, IL, helped us discover more about this artifact and confirm its identity.
Our goat was not manufactured by DeMoulin, but the similarities are clear. This goat was discovered in an old bank building near Larimer Square in Denver. Who would have thought?
If you have a gem you'd like to donate, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Melissa De Bie, Registrar
Contact the Library
Stephen H. Hart Library and Research Center
History Colorado Center
Denver, CO 80203