RENO, Nev. – U.S. Army Captain George Armstrong Custer’s gun holster, dispatch case, belt and brass buckle from the Civil War climbed to $37,500, taking top lot honors in a five-day, 3,100-lot November Wonders: Western Americana Auction held November 18-22 by Holabird Western Americana Collections.
The holster was standard issue for officers during the Civil War to fit the Colt model 1860 Army revolver. There are two photos in the book Custer in Photographs (Katz, 1985, pageds 12 and 13) depicting Custer wearing this rig some time in 1863. Close examination reveals that the same holster is worn with the same cut-away in the army issue holster, where the captain has carved out a notch.
Day 1 of the sale, which took place on November 18, contained slightly more than 600 lots of art, firearms and weapons, foreign items, political memorabilia, militaria, tools, Native Americana, sports collectibles and items pertaining to transportation. The Custer Civil War holster and dispatch case was the undisputed Day 1 highlight, but other offerings from the aforementioned categories also sold well.
A 1982 painting of Native Americans on horseback on top of bluffs looking down on huge cavalry bluffs by Hungarian-American artist Americo Makk (1927-2015), titled Too Many Guns, realized $2,250. Also, a sterling silver vintage concho belt signed “TC” (possibly Tom Charlie), boasting 10 oval stamped conchos, gaveled for $687.
Day 2, November 19, was dedicated entirely to stocks and bonds (in categories that included mining, railroad, brewing and express). An 1891 stock certificate for the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway Company for 100 shares, issued to wealthy oil tycoon and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and signed by Rockefeller on the back, brought $750.
Day 3, November 20, featured 609 lots of minerals, mining, numismatics, tokens and philatelic and postal history. One of the top achievers was the circa 1910 10-cent token for the H. (Henry) Champagne Bar in Genoa, Nevada – the only known token merchant from Genoa, a fact that wasn’t lost on bidders, who drove the final price to $3,750.
Other tokens also did well. A round brass 12 ½-cent token for the Oxford Bar in Contact, Nevada, the only known merchant for this town located in Elko County, rose to $1,952, while an equally scarce circa-1905 scalloped aluminum token, good for one drink at the R. G. Dickson bar in Empire, Nevada, realized $1,037.
Two Day 3 lots drew identical selling prices of $938. One was a circa-1960 replica Wells Fargo & Co. Express (Goldfield, Nevada) cast iron strongbox, spectacular and showy with loads of eye appeal, made as a museum display piece. The other was a beautiful banded gold-in-quartz matrix ore pulled from an unknown mine locale but perfect for being made into amazing jewelry pieces.
Day 4, November 21, was a busy one, with many collecting categories: geographically sorted ephemera, general collectibles, souvenir plates, spoons and flatware, entertainment, circus, toys, marbles, bottles, saloon, tobacciana, gaming, cowboy and clothing – nearly 250 lots in total.
Certainly the most provocative lot of the day was an actual prostitute license from 1898. The professionally framed and mounted carte de visite of a woman named Amelia was issued by officials of Tombstone, Arizona Territory (Arizona did not become a state until 1912). The license, dated Feb. 1, 1898, reads, “Received from Amelia, Four Dollars, for License on the business of Ill Fame.” It was signed by the city clerk and the mayor and finished at $2,250.
The auction’s final day, November 22, had 614 lots of World’s Fair material (Express and Expositions), firefighting memorabilia, fraternal organizations, badges, maps, books, furnishings, jewelry, music and photography. It was a jewelry lot that ended up being the superstar of the last day.
An ornate 14K gold necklace with diamond bands and emerald eyes in the shape of a spotted leopard sitting on the bottom rung of a 17-piece articulated necklace, with matching ring and earrings went to a determined bidder for $11,560.
To consign a single piece or a collection, you may call Fred Holabird at 775-851-1859 or 844-492-2766; or, you can send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about Holabird Western Americana Collections, visit www.holabirdamericana.com.
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