Holabird’s Wild West Relics Auction, April 6-7 & 13-14, had 2,300 Lots in 60 Collecting Categories

A large California Gold Rush-era gold and quartz nugget sold for $25,000; an original 1881 photograph of a 13-man posse in Arizona brought $8,750; and a trove of letters from 1883-1886 pertaining to the “Bisbee Massacre” and Apache attacks in Arizona brought $12,187 in Holabird Western Americana Collections’ Wild West Relics Auction split between two weekends – April 6th-7th and April 13th-14th – online and live at the gallery in Reno, Nev.

It was a massive event, one that required a break between Sessions 1-2 and 3-4 it was so sprawling. Fully 2,300 lots came up for bid in over 60 collecting categories over the four days. Hundreds of lots went up for grabs, featuring many one-of-a-kind discoveries and great rarities. The sale came on the heels of a timed auction held two weeks earlier that also saw a lot of action.

Day 1, on Saturday, April 6th, contained 563 lots of art, jewelry, Native Americana, maps, World’s Fair/Expositions, books, autographs, photographs, tools and the Wilcox photo archive.

The Wilcox archive comprised hundreds of photographs taken circa 1860-1864 by Dr. Timothy Wilcox, an Army physician assigned to many of the Western forts, especially Fort Huachuca in Arizona. It changed hands for $2,625. But the top lot of the day was the 1881 mounted original albumen photograph of the 13-man posse that was sent from Tucson to Yuma, Arizona to arrest one of the Goldwater brothers for fraud in a suspected major retail goods swindle ($8,750).

A circa 1660, full edition copy of Il Capitolo dei Frati, handwritten in ink by Jesuit monk Sebastiano Chiesa, controversial for its time and banned by the Catholic Church (just owning a copy was punishable by death) fetched $5,000. Also sold was an archive of photos and personal papers from Oliver Parker Fritchie, a visionary who owned electrical vehicle and wind power businesses in the early 20th century. He was awarded his initial battery patent in 1903 ($3,125).

There were several stunning squash blossom necklaces in the auction. Chief among them was a stunning example with dark blue turquoise in a dark brown to black matrix, crafted circa 1960 by Jimmy Long, the spouse of Navajo silversmith Helen Long ($3,250); and an equally beautiful vintage Navajo necklace set in sterling silver, 24 inches in length, with ten turquoise nuggets up the necklace portion and another seven set in the naja at the base of the gorgeous piece ($2,875).

An early 1732 copy of Italian Renaissance artist Raphael’s masterpiece from circa 1815-1816 masterpiece, The Madonna of the Chair (or “Madonna della Seggiola / Sedia”), went for $3,875. The original is housed at the Pitti Palace in Florence, Italy. Also, a circa 1908-1911 Russian icon of Our Lady of Kazan, with three colors of gold plate over .875 silver oklad, a rose gold halo and yellow gold robes, the icon and frame seated inside a custom glass-top box, achieved $2,000.

Day 2, on Sunday, April 7th, featured 580 lots of 3D collectibles, clocks, musical items, furnishings, clothing, collectibles and flatware, advertising, general store, bottles, saloon, gaming, tobacciana, cowboy, entertainment, circus, toys, sports, transportation and railroad, political, military, firearms and weaponry (subject to federal regulations) and general ephemera.

One of the day’s top earners was an archive of hardware and library material from the private collection of a Spy Craft OSS (Office of Strategic Service, which later became the CIA) member during World War II, commanded $8,750. Also, a near-mint example of a marked Virginia & Truckee Nevada railroad lantern from around 1915, the globe etched, “V. & T. Ry” and the very top marked with embossing, garnered $2,375. It was one of about 50 railroad lanterns in the sale.

An extremely rare late 1850s/early 1860s Barry & Patten quart-size whiskey bottle, olive-amber in color and 11 inches tall, finished at $3,625. Barry & Patten was the first Western whiskey merchant to place his product in an embossed bottle. Also, a Frank Abadie pint-size, knife edge coffin Nevada whiskey bottle with the original paper nearly intact, clear and made circa 1884-1886, unquestionably one of the top Nevada whiskeys, went to a determined bidder for $2,875.

A circa 1893, first generation Colt single action Army revolver, .38-.40 caliber, nickel plated, with a 7 ½ inch barrel and built on a black powder frame, hit the mark for $3,875. The gun came with a large scabbard holster. Also, a circa 1886-1895 purple half-pint pumpkinseed whiskey flask bottle, from Wine House / Liquors & Cigars / Reno, Nev., the older variant, hammered for $2,625. Owner Spiro Francovich probably bottled his own brand of whiskey in the back room.

Day 3, on Saturday, April 13th, showcased 517 lots of antique and vintage stocks and bonds, banking, mining, collectibles, industry and oil, railroad and transportation, and miscellaneous.

Day 4, on Sunday, April 14th, contained over 650 lots of minerals, mining, artifacts, ephemera, scales, numismatics, tokens, philatelic, stamps, covers, Wells Fargo/Express, and postcards.

The California Gold Rush-era gold and quartz nugget, discovered in the Shasta area, was so large (2 ½ inches by 3 ½ inches and weighing 1.75 pounds) it almost looked like a small boulder. It was found decades ago by metal detecting in old sluice or dredge tailings. The Robert Matheson letters from 1883-1886, meanwhile, comprised 23 handwritten letters (about 100 pages) and ephemeral pieces, pertaining to the “Bisbee Massacre” and Apache attacks in Tombstone, Ariz.

An American Gold Eagle pendant consisting of a 2014 $50 one-ounce gold piece in a reeded bezel with a 30-inch 14 carat chain weighing 27.7 grams (the coin weighing 33.931 grams), with a barrel clasp and contained in a hard fabric case, realized $4,500. Also, a complete set of Heroes of God silver medal collection, made by the American Mint in 1972, by the Catholic Digest, sold for $2,750. The 60 medals were devoted to saints and popes and totaled 67 ounces of pure silver.

A large collection of U.S. star notes (replacement banknotes, printed to replace a faulty one and are a control mechanism for the monetary authorities to know the exact number of banknotes being printed), dating from 1977-2017 and having a total face value of $2,170, earned $2,750; while an interesting #71 cancel study group of 61 stamps with cancel color variations, to include black and blue, primarily collected for cancel varieties, most well-centered, went for $2,500.

Online bidding was facilitated by iCollector.com, LiveAuctrioneers.com and Invaluable.com. Anyone owning a collection that might fit into a Holabird Western Americana Collections, LLC auction is encouraged to get in touch. The firm travels throughout the U.S., to see and pick up collections. The company has agents all over America and will travel to inspect most collections.