I finished it last night, you guys, so here's the before and after pictures.
I can't stop looking back and forth between the two; it's a really dramatic difference! I'm absolutely delighted with how it turned out.
If you look around the edge of the saddle, you can see the brown and white wool edge binding I put on the felt skirt padding. I'm so glad I made that choice; it really gives a nice finishing touch. So much better than the plain white I started to go with. It's almost reminiscent of the old corona saddle pads that were so popular in the 50s and 60s. (I just love the look of those. If they weren't so stinkin' expensive, I'd totally have one. It would look great with my saddle. I'm still trying to figure out how to make my own.)
I have not been able to place this saddle in history. I have only found one that looked halfway similar (based on the original orange felt only) and the website I found it on said it was from 1850, which I sincerely doubt. I think it is probably from the 1960s-70s, based on the buckstitching and the condition of the leather. Without a maker's mark, I can't determine anything for sure.
I can't wait to show this one off to a prospective buyer. I hope it finds a new home soon, because I need the space for my next project saddle -- which I will confess to you here that I have already arranged to have shipped to me and which should be arriving later this week. Here's a sneak preview of my next fixer-upper:
It's a child's saddle, and based only what I can guess from the pictures, I'd say it's a Bona Allen made for Mongomery Ward in the 1950s. It's gonna be a really fun restoration. Stay tuned for that!