Americana key to Holabird’s vast auction Dec. 17-21


Navajo Red Mesa rug in near perfect condition, 5ft x 8ft 5in, with dramatic, exotic colors inspired by Hispanic weavings. Estimate: $5,000-$8,000. Holabird image

RENO, Nev. – A five-day holiday auction packed with hundreds of lots of mining collectibles, philatelic material and Americana, and featuring a number of important collections in a wide range of categories – will be held Dec. 17-21 by Holabird Western Americana Collections LLC. Bid absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers. Start times all five days are 8 a.m. Pacific time.

Day 1, Dec. 17, will be 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 will be Ken Prag’s massive industrial stock certificate collection.

“Within the Prag collection are some fantastic subcollections,” said Fred Holabird of Holabird Western Americana Collections. “Among these are Ken’s banking collection, American entertainment, brewing, telephone and telegraph, turnpikes, firearms, printing and publishing collections. A few categories are so big they’ll be split between this sale and an early 2021 sale.”

Within these collections are pieces signed by famous Americans such as inventor Thomas Edison. “The American entertainment collection is easily the best ever assembled of the history of motion pictures,” Holabird said. “Several hundred certificates document the financial history of the cinema and movie business from its infancy. Serious collectors will have a field day.”

A stock certificate for the Edison Storage Battery Co., West Orange, N.J., issued for one share to Thomas Edison as company president, dated Nov. 30, 1920, and signed front and back by the American inventor, is an expected Day 1 superstar lot, carrying a presale estimate of $2,500-$4,000.


Stock certificate for the Edison Storage Battery Co., issued for one share to Thomas Edison as president, dated Nov. 30, 1920, signed twice. Estimate: $2,500-$4,000. Holabird image

Day 2 should see a flurry of bidder activity. Categories include transportation, mining artifacts and ephemera, general Americana (more geographic sort, badges, bottles, circus, cowboy, World’s Fair and Exposition), numismatics, jewelry, firefighting and toys.

“The Paul Franklin collection of California and Colorado will absolutely throw bidders into a tizzy,” Holabird promised. “His Bodie mining stocks are among the best collections out there, and his California and Colorado mining photographs are absolutely phenomenal. His collections of Western assayer documents are also among the best ever. You’ll also see some great mining stocks from California and Colorado, to go with the fantastic photographs and assay certificates.

“A great selection of California Gold Rush postal history supplements this group with a crowning glory – a group of 1850s illustrated letter sheets. Our railroad section is again full of original badges and passes,” he added.

Day 2 star lots will include a rare 1879 stereoview of a freight wagon on Main Street in Bodie, California, matted and framed, photographed by Ramanzo Wood, a landscape photographer from Santa Cruz, active 1875-1905 (est. $1,500-$2,000); and a large selection of 33 stereoviews of Yosemite, taken from 1870-1875 by Thomas Houseworth, a failed miner, optometrist and photographer (est. $1,000-$1,500). The group includes North and South Domes and Mirror Lake.


Rare 1879 stereoview of a freight wagon on Main Street in Bodie, California, photographed by Ramanzo Wood, a Santa Cruz landscape photographer. Estimate: $1,000-$1,500). Holabird image

Also offered on Day 2 will be a massive collection of over 550 black and white photographs of circus scenes in America throughout the first half of the 20th century (below), including Barnum & Bailey, Buffalo Bill and Cole Brothers (est. $2,000-$5,000); and an ephemera collection of items relating to the Alaska-Gastineau Mining Co., which operated a gold mining and milling operation on the outskirts of Juneau from 1911 to 1934 (est. $1,000-$2,000).


Collection of over 550 black and white photographs of circus scenes in America throughout the first half of the 20th century. Estimate: $2,000-$5,000. Holabird image

Day 3, Dec. 19, will feature Wells Fargo and other Express, postal history (including a 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 California Gold Rush letter sheet, dated 1876, titled Methods of Mining, was published by James M. Hutchings. The sheet illustrates all of the major types of gold mining being done in California by 1855, with illustrations by Charles C. Nahl (est. $1,500-$3,000). Also offered will be a major collection of covers from the USS Macon, an airship that was operational from 1933-1935 – 500 covers in all, plus a well-used book on the Macon (est. $2,500-$7,500).


Major collection of covers from the USS Macon, a Navy airship that was lost in a storm off California’s Big Sur coast in 1935. Holabird auction

Day 4, Dec. 20, will consist of 733 lots overall. Categories include art, Native Americana, firearms and military, sports and Part 1 of bargains and dealer specials, including numismatics, stocks and bonds, and mining equipment and ephemera. Part 2 of bargains/specials will be on Day 5.

Day 4 Native American lots to watch will feature a stunning example of a Navajo Red Mesa Native American rug in near perfect condition, 5 feet by 8 feet 5 inches (est. $5,000-$8,000); and a Navajo turquoise squash blossom necklace from around the 1950s or ’60s, an unmarked naja piece 15½ inches long and boasting a nice patina built up on all the silver (est. $1,900-$2,400).


Navajo turquoise squash blossom necklace. Estimate: $1,900-$2,400. Holabird image

The final day of the sale, Dec. 21, will be 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 775-851-1859 or 844-492-2766 or


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