Morphy and Brian Lebel’s Old West Events together lassoed $2.2M auction total

LAS VEGAS — Morphy Auctions, in association with Brian Lebel’s Old West Events, sold $2.2 million across 473 lots of Western relics and memorabilia on January 26. Complete results are available at LiveAuctioneers.

Edward H Bohlin (1895-1980) was the king of Western saddlemaking and silver artistry. Creations by the company he founded dominated the auction’s top 10. The priciest item was Bohlin’s own silver mounted with gold repousse gun belt, which he personally designed and built alongside premier Bohlin artists for his own use. Estimated at $200,000-$250,000, the unique double-holster gun rig attracted 17 bids before settling at $250,000 ($307,500 with buyer’s premium). Its new owner is a private collector from Texas.

As the auction progressed, the Bohlin treasures continued to charm bidders, especially the child’s pony-size silvered parade saddle with matching bridle, bit, breast collar, and original black-and-white wool corona. An extravagant production from the early 1950s, it was one of only two pony-size parade saddles Bohlin offered in its catalogs from 1927 through the 1960s. Against an estimate of $30,000-$40,000, the auction example realized $65,000 ($79,950 with buyer’s premium).

There was tremendous interest in a pair of McCabe silver and gold-repousse parade chaps formerly owned and exhibited by legendary film and TV cowboy Roy Rogers. Formerly part of the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum Collection, the chaps commanded a winning bid of $150,000 ($184,500 with buyer’s premium) against an estimate of $70,000-$90,000.

On the fine art side of Western collecting was a dramatic Till Goodan (1896-1958) oil on canvas, untitled but known as Roping Trouble, which rose to $19,000 ($24,000 with buyer’s premium) against an estimate of $7,000-$9,000.

Antique advertising with a Western theme is always in demand with collectors. A prized entry, with provenance from the renowned Dick Burdick collection, was the circa-1910 Colt Firearms lithograph (variation No. 2) depicting the ‘Colt Cowgirl.’ At its lower left, the artwork reads: Colt’s Patent Fire Arms M’F’G Co. The 19 by 30in litho printed by W. F. Powers Co. sold for $17,000 ($20,400 with buyer’s premium) against an estimate of $7,000-$9,000.

After the highly successful Las Vegas series concluded, Dan Morphy remarked: “One thing I heard over and over again, from both the dealers and visitors, was how much they enjoyed the abundance of business and social activity all under one roof. It would not be an exaggeration to say that more than 100 people made a special point of finding me and telling me that, which I greatly appreciated. That kind of positive feedback tells us we’re giving collectors what they want.”

Brian Lebel agreed, saying: “I am incredibly pleased with how successful the event was for both the shows and auction. Our vendors and collectors were overwhelmingly enthusiastic about the venue, the prices, and the exceptional quality of the items on offer throughout the weekend.”

Morphy hosts Brian Lebel’s cowboy and Western relics sale Jan. 26

Original 1900 Wild Bunch Gang photo taken by Fort Worth photographer John Swartz, estimated at $60,000-$80,000 at Morphy.

LAS VEGAS – Morphy Auctions is teaming with Brian Lebel’s 34th Old West Show & Auction and the Las Vegas Antique Arms Show for a 473-lot sale featuring antique arms, Western memorabilia and cowboy relics. The catalog for the Friday, January 26 sale is available for bidding at LiveAuctioneers.

“I expect this to be a one-of-a-kind event in the industry, combining the best of the crossover categories – cowboy and Western, Native American, Hollywood and firearms,” said Dan Morphy, founder and president of Morphy Auctions.

Edward H. Bohlin was the Western outfitter to the stars, creating The Lone Ranger’s silver-accented gear, among others. The sale includes an amazing 34 lots bearing the Bohlin name. His personal sterling silver gun belt, mounted with gold repousse, presented together with a pair of Bohlin-mounted Colt Single Action Army revolvers, appeared in countless parades and was exhibited at the 1967 Montreal World’s Fair. The lot is estimated at $200,000-$250,000.

A museum-grade ledger book created and maintained in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Sitting Bull’s nephew White Bull (1849-1947) – purported killer of General Custer at the Battle of the Little Bighorn – is unique and historically important. In White Bull’s handwriting, it documents coups, combats and winter counts of the Sioux. In all, there are 162 pages, 120 with writing and 33 with drawings. The auction estimate has been set at $200,000-$250,000.

More than a century after their lives are said to have ended abruptly in a dusty Bolivian town, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid continue to fascinate fans of Western lore. The two friends and partners in crime were part of what was known as the “Fort Worth Five,” whose scurrilous outlaw careers were marked by a long string of bank and train robberies. It was the beginning of the end for the so-called “Wild Bunch” gang when their photograph, taken in 1900, came to the attention of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. That image would soon become the mugshot on Wanted posters throughout the western states. The sale features the original 1900 Wild Bunch Gang photo taken by Fort Worth photographer John Swartz, which is estimated at $60,000-$80,000.

Roy Rogers, King of the Cowboys, considered his pair of McCabe parade chaps one of his most prized possessions. They were from a complete parade saddle ensemble commissioned in 1931 for wealthy horsewoman H. L. Musick and her champion horse Diamond. After many Rose Bowl appearances, the silver and gold repousse chaps were acquired by Rogers for use at promotional appearances and in photos. They were exhibited nationwide and resided in the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum Collection, and they now carry a $70,000-$90,000 estimate.

A top prize in the sale is an outfit Clayton Moore wore onscreen in his indelible role as The Lone Ranger. The ensemble consists of a specially dyed dark shirt and pants plus a screen-worn hat and black screen-worn mask designed for use in water scenes. With impeccable provenance, the quintessential Lone Ranger outfit has a $10,000-$20,000 estimate. Also of special interest in the auction is a major photo and poster archive that traces the career of Clayton Moore as The Lone Ranger.

Collectors will need to look skyward to take in the full impact of a giant Levi Strauss advertising display of a type distributed in the 1940s to stores throughout the western states. The upper portion of the 12ft-tall figural cowboy is composed of painted hardboard, while the lower portion is dressed with a pair of original Levi’s denim jeans having a 76-inch inseam. The display is one of only two known to Morphy’s specialists and will be offered with a $14,000-$16,000 estimate.

Strength of Western art market was validated at Lebel’s Santa Fe show

A tremendous variety of Western and Native art and antiques graced this room display created by Joe Fionda of Lufkin, Texas. Image courtesy of Brian Lebel’s Old West Events

SANTA FE, N.M. – Visitors from throughout the United States as well as Canada, Mexico, Germany, Belgium and Japan converged on New Mexico’s state capital over the weekend of June 23-25 for the sole purpose of shopping at Brian Lebel’s incomparable Cody Old West Show & Auction, now in its 33rd year.

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Morphy’s new venture with Lebel’s Old West Events was off to a roaring start, June 23-25

Fine circa-1930s Edward H. Bohlin sterling silver parade saddle with outstanding leather and silver carving, and silver conchos. Provenance: H.C. Lewis Collection; Butterfield & Butterfield 1989 auction; Guess Jeans collection; Tucson, Arizona, private collection. Sold above high estimate for $50,820

SANTA FE, N.M. – An affinity for the lore and history of the American West was the common denominator that connected premier dealers with enthusiastic collectors at Brian Lebel’s 33rd annual Cody Old West Show & Auction held June 23-25 at the Community Convention Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. A much-anticipated highlight of the long weekend was a June 24 onsite auction of Western and Native American relics, produced in association with Morphy Auctions. Absentee and Internet live bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers.

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Saddle up for Brian Lebel’s Santa Fe Old West Show & Auction, June 23-25

One-of-a-kind pair of Tony Lama ‘El Rey II’ handmade cowboy boots. Custom-ordered from Luskey’s 1966 catalog by a Route 66 service station owner, Ted Jenkins of Vernal, Utah, to display as a roadside tourist attraction. Premium-grade black calf with inlaid gold leaf and 54 carats of diamonds, rubies and sapphires. Estimate $20,000-$30,000. Morphy Auctions image

SANTA FE, N.M. – Buyers, sellers, collectors, and enthusiasts of Western and Native American memorabilia, or anyone who is just discovering this red-hot collecting category, should mark their calendars for June 23-25. Those are the dates for Brian Lebel’s 33rd annual Cody Old West Show & Auction, to be held in the Santa Fe Community Convention Center at 201 West Marcy Street in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The auction is produced in association with Morphy’s, and absentee and Internet live bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.

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