RENO, Nev. – A pictorial letter-sheet from 1856 illustrating the major types of gold mining done in California by 1855 brought $3,500, and a 12-volume railroad survey report published from 1855-1860 compiled to find the best route to the Pacific Coast realized $3,125 at a five-day Holiday Auction held Dec. 17-21 by Holabird Western Americana Collections LLC. Absentee and Internet live bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers.
Day 1, December 17, was dedicated to stocks and bonds – 712 lots in total, led by 208 lots of mining stocks and 66 lots of railroad and transportation stock. Headlining the day was Ken Prag’s massive industrial stock certificate collection.
“Within the Prag collection were some fantastic subcollections,” said Fred Holabird of Holabird Western Americana Collections, LLC. “Among these were Ken’s banking collection, American entertainment, brewing, telephone and telegraph, turnpikes, firearms, printing and publishing collections.”
Two rare Chinese publishing company stock certificates (below) were a Day 1 top lot. One was for the Young China Publishing Co. of San Francisco, issued in 1920 for seven shares to Chan Chung Pong. The other was for the Chinese Times Publishing Co. Inc. in California, issued in 1927 for five shares and signed by the company’s president and secretary.
Day 2 saw a flurry of bidder activity. Categories included transportation (railroad passes and cap badges, ephemera and more), mining artifacts and ephemera (including geographic sort), general Americana (more geographic sort, badges, bottles, circus, cowboy, world’s fair and exposition), numismatics, jewelry, fire and toys.
The 12-volume railway report, titled Reports of Explorations and Surveys to Ascertain the Most Practicable and Economical Route for a Railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean (1855-1860) was a Day 2 hit and is inarguably one of the most important historical works about the U.S. government’s development of the West, as hastened by the California Gold Rush.
An 1865 letterhead for the Kenyon Mining Co. in Black Hawk, Colo., on which a letter has been written and signed by “S.H. Buttrick” and is addressed to “My Dear Colonel,” together with a stereoview with great depth and superb content, went for $1,125. Also, a stock certificate from the World’s Columbian Exposition, the world’s fair held in Chicago in 1893 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the New World, for 50 shares, finished at $625.
A check dated Oct. 24, 1879 from the Boise, Idaho branch of the Northwest Stage Co., regarding operations in Utah, Idaho, Washington, Nevada and Oregon, in the amount of $36.20, signed by John Hailey (Genl. Supt.), made $610. Also, a Native American $5 silver certificate, Series of 1899, the only issue of U.S. paper money for which a Native American was selected as the central feature, with a bust of Ta-to-ka-in-yan-ka of the Oncpapa Sioux tribe, rose to $343.
Two popular 1860 Smith and Hartmann (Miller, N.Y.) brass trotting horse medals (below), both having an obverse of an Indian head left with “United States of America” and “1860” below, and similar trotting horse depictions on the reverse, earned $687; while a group of five railroad passes from the Pacific Northwest Railroad, spanning the years 1904-1932, including Puget Sound Electric Railway, Pacific Coast RR Co., and the Northwestern Pacific RR Co., changed hands for $312.
Day 3, Dec. 19, featured Wells Fargo and other Express, postal history (including the California Gold Rush letter sheet), major collections of first flight covers (U.S. and Canada), 600 lots of postcards from the massive Ken Prag collection (Native Americana, Black Americana, holidays, political and military, California, foreign and miscellaneous), stamps and ephemera.
The letter-sheet from 1856 illustrating all the major types of gold mining done in California by 1855 was published by James M. Hutchings and titled Methods of Mining. It contained 12 vignettes, four done by Charles Christian Nahl, a prominent California Gold Rush-era artist. Each depicted a different method of mining. Included in the lot was a three-page letter dated Jan. 7, 1856, by miner George W. Wilson, to his family in Nashville, Tenn., headed Buena Vista Hill.
An attractive group of 37 postcards featuring lifestyle images of the Piute (Paiute) and Washo (Washoe) people (infants in cradleboards, elders, women at work, a man on horseback, more), along with images of a camp in Fallon, Nevada, achieved $1,875. Also, two Pacific Express Co. paid covers with horse and rider pictorials, both out of Sacramento circa 1856, one addressed to R.W. Brush (a weak strike) and the other to Charles E. Hinkley (a strong strike), realized $625.
Day 4 contained 733 lots of art, Native Americana, firearms and military, sports (including postcards, stocks and cards), and Part 1 of bargains and dealer specials, including numismatics, stocks and bonds (mining, railroad and other categories, and mining equipment and ephemera).
A portfolio of five aquatint etchings by the Chilean architect and painter Roberto Sebastiàn Antonio Matta Echaurren (1911-2002), better known as Sebastiàn, was titled L’ame du Tarot de Theleme (1994). It was portfolio no. 92 from an edition of 100, unframed. Matta was heavily influenced by Dalí and Yves Tanguy, and was an important figure in the evolution of Surrealism.
Other top lots from Day 4 included the following:
– A Joslyn model 1855 percussion carbine rifle, .54 caliber, known as the “monkey tail” carbine and rarely seen today, achieved $1,875. This example, wearing 160 years of handling marks, was said to have been used by McClelland “Clell” Miller of the James Gang.
– A nice and rare postcard photograph of baseball legend Babe Ruth, wearing a suit and striking a reflective pose, hit $1,188. The 1920s postcard was in clean, unused condition. It came out of the collection of Ken Prag.
– A Paiute-Shoshone basket woven in the 1920s by the renowned Native American basket weaver Dat So La Lee of the Washoe Tribe in northern Nevada made $594. She sold many of her finest works at The Emporium in Carson City, Nevada.
The final day of the sale, Dec. 21, was a continuation of bargains and dealer specials – 680 lots, led by 29 lots of transportation and the rest general Americana.
For details contact Fred Holabird at Holabird Western Americana Collections at 775-851-1859 or 844-492-2766 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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