CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Wyoming’s capital city, Cheyenne, has been known as the “Magic City of the Plains” practically since its establishment in 1867, when it officially became part of the Dakota Territory. Its status as a railroad town and military encampment only added to its allure, attracting cowboys, ranchers, outlaws and others seeking adventure and wide-open skies. That Old West atmosphere can still be felt in Cheyenne, and never more so than when New Frontier hosts its annual Cheyenne Firearms & Western Collectibles Auction, next slated for August 28.
The 391-lot auction of firearms, and both historical and modern Western antiques and art will be conducted in tandem with the promoter’s August 27-29 Cheyenne Firearms & Western Collectibles Show at the Laramie County Event Center at Archer. Bidders can take part in the auction either at the event itself or live online through LiveAuctioneers.
Featured: Lifetime collection of 1895 Winchesters, horsehair bridles, Western art and bronzes from estate of Mike Olson; firearms legend Elmer Keith’s own Winchester Deluxe 1886 rifle
The firearms category is led by a special-order .45-.90-caliber Winchester Deluxe 1886 rifle, manufactured 1903, that was personally owned by legendary firearms expert and author Elmer Keith (1899-1984). Keith was instrumental to the development of the .357 Magnum (the first magnum revolver cartridge) as well as the later .44 Magnum and .41 Magnum cartridges. He also co-designed the Winchester Model 70 bolt-action rifle. During World War II he served as a rifle inspector at the Ogden (Utah) Arsenal. Keith’s treasured Winchester Deluxe 1886 rifle has checkered pistol-grip stocks of highly flame-figured American walnut, a blade front sight, Express rear sights, a sliding Lyman receiver sign, and many additional custom features. Its auction estimate is $8,500-$12,500.
Perhaps no other firearm in the auction is more closely associated with the outlaw days of the American West than the Colt 1877 .38-caliber Lightning revolver once carried by the ruthless outlaw and gang leader Bert Casey (died 1903). Described in a Guthrie, Oklahoma Territory newspaper as “the most dangerous and unprincipled bandit of present day, always killing when an opportunity presented itself,” Casey was finally stopped by two of his own former gang members, who were deputized and promised a pardon from prison if they could apprehend or kill him. It’s a case that draws parallels to that of Pat Garrett, who was persuaded to be deputized to kill Billy the Kid. Casey was unceremoniously buried in the Boot Hill section of Guthrie, but his historically significant Lightning revolver lives on. It displays beautifully, with a backstrap inscription that reads: “R.W. ‘Bert Casey’ El Reno, O.T.’ Estimate: $3,000-$5,000
A Winchester 1895 takedown rifle (shown at top of page) manufactured in 1913 comprises a Deluxe two-barrel set (405WCF and 35WCF calibers) with checkered, highly figured stocks, 3-leaf Express rear barrel sights, and a Lyman Model 21 sliding receiver sight. Housed in a superb French fitted oak and leather travel case, it comes with period cleaning tools and a box of ammunition for each caliber. A stunning example that’s ready for field use, the rifle is estimated at $5,500-$8,500.
The Winchester 1895 is one of more than 100 lots from the Mike Wilson estate collection. A well-respected US Marine Corps veteran, Olson collected fine historical guns – especially Winchesters – and antique cowboy gear. “He had a particular affinity for items from Colorado, since that’s where he lived,” said Scott Tarbell, owner of New Frontier Shows, producer of the Cheyenne Firearms & Western Collectibles Show & Auction. “Mike’s collection includes ten horsehair bridles and both spurs and bridles made at the state prison in Canon City.” One of the prison bridles, a wonderfully crafted and decorated example with engraved silver conchos, silver band-keepers, and a bit formed as a lady’s leg (shown above), is estimated at $4,000-$6,000.
A pair of stellar double-mounted spurs made by Phillips & Gutierrez (active Cheyenne, Wyo., 1917-1918) has masterfully engraved domes, large rowels and dove-wing straps. Rare and highly desirable, the spurs will be offered with a $4,000-$6,000 estimate. Another phenomenal work of art, a pair of turn-of-the-century Native American (Plateau) gauntlets, fringed and fully beaded with images of Indian chiefs and horses, is expected to reach $4,500-$7,500.
Bidders won’t believe their eyes when they see the highly detailed Heiser-Keyston (Denver) silver-mounted salesman’s sample saddle with tri-tone tooling and silver engraving. Although as finely crafted and intricately detailed as a full-size saddle, its seat measures only 4½ inches long. In mint condition, this little gem carries a $2,000-$4,000 estimate.
The name Carl Moon (1878-1948) is synonymous with early photographs of Native Americans living in Arizona, New Mexico and Oklahoma. As early as 1903, Moon traveled to the villages where his subjects lived, remaining as a guest while shooting both portraits and posed, romantic scenes depicting storytelling, hunting, weaving, and playing instruments. The August 28 auction includes two important 1860s Chiricahua Apache relics from Moon’s personal collection of Native artifacts, both of which were used as props in his photos. The first is a tanned cowhide bow case and quiver with bow and four arrows, estimated at $6,000-$9,000. The second is a colorful and artistically decorated 12-inch knife sheath and knife, $2,000-$4,000. Both are depicted in Tom Driebe’s renowned book In Search of the Wild Indian.
“Capping” the event is a Resistol 3X hat worn by John Wayne in the 1962 MGM film How the West Was Won. Made by Western Costume Co. (Hollywood), the hat has a stitched-in studio label with both the name of the film and Wayne’s name. Worn by motion-picture royalty and accompanied by a Boyd Magers affidavit of authenticity, it has a $2,000-$10,000 estimate.
New Frontier’s Saturday, Aug. 28 auction starts at 2pm MT/4pm ET. View the fully illustrated catalog and sign up to bid absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers.