California Auctioneers to sell Butch Cassidy’s Colt .45, Sept. 30
VENTURA, Calif. – On Sept. 29-30, California Auctioneers will conduct a sale of historic Old West relics, with Internet live bidding through LiveAuctioneers.com. The auction’s headliner is American outlaw Butch Cassidy’s amnesty Colt .45 gun. It is the very firearm Cassidy handed over in good faith to Juab County, Utah Sheriff Parley P. Christison in Oct. 1899, in an appeal for amnesty.
Additional highlights in the sale include the beaded jacket of Sioux legend Crazy Horse, who defeated Custer on the Western Plains, the Colt Navy percussion gun of infamous James Gang member Frank James, brother of Jesse.
The Butch Cassidy Colt is extremely well documented and has been featured in a number of magazines in years past, including Gun Journal, Guns, and Guns and the Gunfighters (published by Guns & Ammo).
“We’ve come to a time when we are two generations away from the folks who knew Cassidy. Fortunately former owner E. Dixon Larson launched a pilgrimage from 1967 to 1970, documenting and interviewing people who knew Cassidy and remembered this Colt,” said auctioneer Jewels Eubanks.
One of those people was Lula Parker Betenson, Cassidy’s younger sister, who can be seen holding the Colt on Page 2 of her book Butch Cassidy, My Brother. Pages 159-160 verify the serial number 158402. A number of photographs and original letters between Larson and Betenson are offered with the Colt, in addition to over a hundred pages of research and verification documents.
Included with the Colt .45 (158402) is Cassidy’s “Brill” jacket holster and never-before-seen documents, including an original letter and photo of William Darby who “rode with [Cassidy] …into the ‘hole.'” He recollects:
“Butch’s coat gun that he carried under his arm most of the time…without a question, this is it. (#158402). He was the only one that I can recall who had a nickel one. I handled it a few times…I remember the ‘eagles’ on the grips, as most of the boys’ (guns) had wood handles, except Logan, who had white ones…Reason I remember it so well, is that I always wanted one just like it. It was a .45 and most others were .44s.”
In additional to Darby’s testimony a never-before-seen conversation with Charles Hanks from 1969 confirms he visited with “Butch” in Vernal, Utah after he was reported killed in Bolivia. He also claims that he visited him again in Salem, Ore., in 1924. He remembers being 12 years old and seeing Butch with the nickel Colt, holster and black-eagle grips.
Two binders with well over 100 pages of documents are included with the original manila tag Parley P. Christison signed in Juab County, Utah, where Cassidy turned in this Colt and his Winchester. An original photograph of the Justice document filed Jan. 2nd, 1900 (after Cassidy did not return) also verifies the Colt 158402 and his Winchester. Correspondence with the owner of the Cassidy Winchester, Jim Earle, proved to have an exact copy of the same docket.
Cassidy’s attempt for amnesty with the help of his friend Matt Warner, Sheriff P.P. Christison and his lawyer, Orlando Powers, asking to meet Governor H.C. Wells, is well documented.
It was perhaps Cassidy’s last attempt on American soil “to lay down his sword and shield,” and in so doing, he left behind a piece of the Wild West. He turned in his Colt SAA .45; the jacket gun that Hanks claims could be seen poking out of his vest, under his jacket next to his heart; and the action of turning it in represents his last attempt to cooperate with the authorities for a life more ordinary.
The amnesty Colt remains a symbol of the duality of “the men of the West;” half hero, half outlaw, forged in steel conviction, yet fueled with the hope of the American dream. It is said Cassidy homesteaded in Argentina, further proof of his desire to settle down before being forced on to Bolivia.
Many, including Cassidy’s sister and Hanks, believe Cassidy found his way back to the States. The truth may never be known, but it is certain that the Robin Hood of the Wild West will remain one of the most intriguing American legends. The Pinkerton National Detective Agency described Cassidy as “a cheerful and amiable bandit with a pleasant, square-jawed face and an almost gentle appearance.” And, extremely dangerous.
California Auctioneers’ Saturday Sept. 29 session will feature a wide range of goods including French and American estate furniture, baby grand pianos, Galle, Lalique and Tiffany; Western and plein-air paintings, fine estate and antique jewelry; clocks, Lladro, antique dolls including some by Jumeau, toys, lighting, Oriental rugs, fine pottery, porcelain and glassware.
The Sunday, Sept. 30 session will feature historic and antique firearms, Native-American artifacts and jewelry, rugs, baskets, pottery, Western art, American antique furniture, collectibles and more.
For additional information, call 805-649-2686 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
View RMK and Red Sky’s short documentary on the Colt at the end of this page.
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View the fully illustrated catalog and register to bid absentee or live via the Internet as the sale is taking place by logging on to www.LiveAuctioneers.com.
ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE