RENO, Nev. – An early U.S. 12-cent postage stamp with a portrait bust of George Washington sold for $19,520 and a 1860 U.S. Army Colt revolver with a Richards conversion that once belonged to legendary lawman and gunfighter Elfego Baca (1865-1945) hit the mark for $13,750 at Holabird Western Americana Collections’ Wild West Auction held July 21-24. Absentee and Internet live bidding was provided by LiveAuctioneers.
The auction saw new record prices established in numerous collecting categories. It was headlined by the collections of Gary Bracken, who collected in a staggering 60-plus categories; and James and Barbara Sherman, whose treasures were housed in a museum in Tucson. Hundreds of collectible items – 2,441 lots in all – came up for bid.
The 12-cent stamp was from the Gary Bracken collection. Industry expert David Bowers said of the stamp in 1989, “The 12-cent value is an extreme rarity in the series. Only two specimens can be accounted for presently. It was unknown to specialists until 1939.” The cased stamp was graded in Fine/Very Fine condition, despite a little dirt and some crinkle, and was the sale’s top earner.
The Elfego Baca revolver came out of the James and Barbara Sherman museum collection. The gun was accompanied by a hardcover first-edition copy of the 1928 book Law and Order Ltd. The Rousing Life of Elfego Baca by Kyle S. Crichton, autographed by the author and by Baca, whose life as a famous lawman in New Mexico was depicted in a Disney mini-series in 1959-60.
Following are additional high-performing lots from the auction. The Day 1 session, which happened on Thursday, July 21, featured 480 lots of philatelic items, including postcards and items relating to postal history; Express; and stocks and bonds. More than 600 lots came up for bid on the first day.
Day 1 highlights included an 1860 manuscript out of the short-lived Monoville, Nevada mining camp, one of only two examples known. It had a Utah Territory postmark and was stamped “Paid 10c” and “DUE 10.” It achieved $7,187.
The Day 2 session, which occurred Friday, July 22, contained art; transportation collectibles, including railroad and steamer passes, ephemera and artifacts; and general Americana, including geographic sort, general store and miscellaneous categories. In all, 625 lots crossed the auction block on Day 2. A standout was the Florence & Cripple Creek (Colorado) railroad lantern made by Adlake, featuring an open wire metal basket and a clear globe with “F & CC RR” embossed. It realized $2,625.
The Day 3 session, on Saturday, July 23, was perhaps the auction’s busiest day. Both the 12-cent stamp and the Elfego Baca revolver were sold on that day, which featured numismatic offerings, including currency and scrip, and U.S., ancient and foreign coins, medals, badges and exonumia, as well as tokens, featuring examples from Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Oklahoma – in all, 622 lots.
A large, newly discovered and exceedingly rare First National Bank of Foraker (Oklahoma) $10 bank note from the early 1900s, graded a solid VF and boasting wonderful embossing and color, changed hands for $4,458. Also, a lot of two gold coins from the U.S. Mint in Charlotte, North Carolina, an 1850-C $1 gold coin graded VF-EF condition; and an 1851-C $2 ½ gold coin, graded F-VF, attained $3,374.
A scarce octagonal token from the Rhyolite (Nevada) saloon (“The Payteller / 12 ½ c / Rhyolite, Nev.”), with a graphic of a bearded miner with a pick, shovel and lunch bucket, plus a mountain and rising sun, sold for $2,750; while an equally scarce Keg Saloon territorial token (“Keg / Saloon /Tombstone / Arizona Territory (A.T.) / Good For / 1 / Drink”), round in shape and brown in color, went to a determined bidder for $1,830.
The auction’s final day, on Sunday, July 24, featured Native Americana; cowboy and Wild West; minerals and mining; sports, bottles, highlighted by material from Colorado and Oklahoma; and saloon, tobacciana and gaming. Day 4 had 583 lots; the auction overall came to 2,441 lots.
A circa-1888-1889 Montag Buena Vista hutch soda bottle, deep amber in color, with a misspell (“G. A. Montag / Buenna (sic) Vista / Colo.”), appearing to be flawless but with an expertly replaced top, earned $3,375; while a circa-1861-1864 Endlich & Good squat-shaped beer bottle, light aqua in color, an early territorial soda with a bit of a drippy top (“Endlich & Good / Denver City / C T 6”), hit $7,187.
Holabird Western Americana Collections, LLC is always seeking material for future sales. To consign a single piece or a collection, you may 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, LLC, visit www.holabirdamericana.com.
View top auction results on LiveAuctioneers here: https://www.liveauctioneers.com/pages/recent-auction-sales/