RENO, Nev. – Five 19th-century gold and silver ingots from the Gold Rush and Silver Rush sold for a combined $159,807 at a four-day High-Grade Auction held June 15 through June 18 by Holabird Western Americana Collections, online and live in the Reno gallery. Absentee and Internet live bidding was facilitated through LiveAuctioneers. The sale featured nearly 2,000 lots of mining collectibles, railroadiana, numismatics, Native and general Americana, philatelic, bottles, stocks, bonds, sports and art.
But it was the ingots that captured the attention of bidders. The top achiever was an 1880 Mathey, Kustel & Riotte silver ingot, which stood out from the others in terms of documented information, provenance and history surrounding the assayers whose names were on it. It is the only known example from Mathey, Kustel & Riotte and carried their logo punch and weighed 4.97 troy ounces. It achieved $42,175.
A close second was the 1883 Peck Mine silver ingot from Prescott, in the Arizona Territory, George Ralph assayer. The mine was discovered by Ed Peck in 1875. The ingot, trapezoidal in shape, was 4.52 troy ounces of silver fine 990 and realized $38,560. Also, an important rectangular silver ingot made by Edward Ruhling and engraved by Nye & Company of Virginia City, Nevada in 1869 for William Sharon, the infamous King of the Comstock, weighing 4.90 troy ounces, attained $37,500.
A pictorial business card for the Cripple Creek & Victor Stage Company in Colorado, bearing the phrase “Do not miss a stage ride over the mountains” and featuring a vignette of a six-horse Concord stagecoach, appearing to date to 1898-1899, brought $2,500. Also, a pair of original Revolutionary War drumsticks, owned by James Baldwin, born in Saybrook Town, Conn., with provenance and a handwritten note from 1867, commanded $3,875.
Day 2, on Friday, June 16, featured 513 lots of art and general Americana. A Wells Fargo agent letter from J. Hume regarding a Montana stage robbery in 1885, along with ancillary documents – an important discovery from the man who caught the notorious outlaw Black Bart – left the room for $3,875. Also, a first edition directory of the city of Nevada and Grass Valley, California from 1861 by Hugh H. Thompson, containing a history of the city, the names of its inhabitants and other information, finished at $2,875.
A remarkable archive from a legal Nevada prostitute, Kathy Eastland, aka Destyny, who collected memorabilia and photographs from her 15 years working the so-called “ranches” circa 1998-2003, changed hands for $5,750. Also, a copy of Horn’s Overland Guide from 1852, a guide for pioneers and prospectors, made $5,500.
A handwritten circa-late 1800s Chinese medicine apothecary or order book from Tombstone, Arizona earned $3,250; while an International Chinese Business Directory published in San Francisco in 1913, compiled by Wong Kin, with large sections on major Asian cities plus a large California section by city, brought $2,875.
Day 3, on Saturday, June 17, showcased Native Americana; mining; and vintage and antique bottles, including those for Colorado medicines. The original 1860 De Groot third edition Comstock map of the Washoe Mines, perhaps the only copy of the De Groot map in private hands today, accompanied by a major new well-researched story of this legendary map, achieved $15,000. Also, an amazing archive of original gold bullion shipment and receipt records from Virginia City, Montana banker Henry Elling to the Kountze Bank in New York, 1873-1881, with 200 receipts of gold bullion, realized $4,750.
A finely woven canoe-shaped Pomo gift basket featuring stepped diamonds, triangles and motifs, and having a rim lined with clamshell discs and glass beads, plus bead and abalone shell pendants suspended on all sides, brought $4,875. Also, a Washoe basket attributed to Tootsie Dick, who sold her baskets through the Cohn Emporium in Carson City, Nevada, went for $3,125.
Day 4, on Sunday, June 18, was loaded with 446 lots of philatelic, sports and numismatics material. A classic, very first so-called dollar medal listed by Hibler Kappan, commemorating the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825, made of white metal and in the original box, rose to $2,375.
To consign a single piece or a collection, call Fred Holabird at 775-851-1859 or 844-492-2766; or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about Holabird Western Americana Collections, please visit www.holabirdamericana.com.
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