Wild West Relics Auction Results California Gold Rush-Era Gold And Quartz Nugget Brings $25,000

May 10, 2024

A large California Gold Rush-era gold and quartz nugget sold for $25,000; an original 1881 photograph of a 13-man posse in Arizona brought $8,750; and a trove of letters from 1883-86 pertaining to the Bisbee Massacre and Apache attacks in Arizona brought $12,187 in Holabird Western Americana Collections Wild West Relics Auction split between two weekends, April 6 and 7 and April 13 and 14, online and live at the gallery in Reno, Nev. It was a massive event, one that required a break between Sessions 1 and 2 and 3 and 4. It had 2,300 lots come up for bid in over 60 collecting categories over the four days. The sale came on the heels of a timed auction held two weeks earlier that also saw a lot of action. Day one contained 563 lots of art, jewelry, Native Americana, maps, Worlds Fair/Expositions, books, autographs, photographs, tools and the Wilcox photo archive. The Wilcox archive comprised hundreds of photographs taken ca. 1860-64 by Dr. Timothy Wilcox, an Army physician assigned to many of the Western forts, including Fort Huachuca in Arizona. It changed hands for $2,625. But the top lot of the day was the 1881 mounted original albumen photograph of the 13-man posse that was sent from Tucson to Yuma, Arizona, to arrest one of the Goldwater brothers for fraud in a suspected major retail goods swindle ($8,750). A ca. 1660, full edition copy of Il Capitolo dei Frati, handwritten in ink by Jesuit monk Sebastiano Chiesa, controversial for its time and banned by the Catholic Church (just owning a copy was punishable by death), fetched $5,000. Also sold was an archive of photos and personal papers from Oliver Parker Fritchie, a visionary who owned electrical vehicle and wind power businesses in the early 20th century. He was awarded his initial battery patent in 1903 ($3,125). There were several stunning squash blossom necklaces in the auction. Chief among them was a stunning example with dark blue turquoise in a dark brown to black matrix, crafted ca. 1960 by Jimmy Long, the spouse of Navajo silversmith Helen Long ($3,250), and an equally fine vintage Navajo necklace set in sterling silver, 24 inches in length, with ten turquoise nuggets up the necklace portion and another seven set in the naja at the base of the piece ($2,875). An early copy of Italian Renaissance artist Raphaels masterpiece from ca. 1815-16, The Madonna of the Chair (or Madonna della Seggiola / Sedia), went for $3,875. The original is housed at the Pitti Palace in Florence, Italy. Also, a ca. 1908-11 Russian icon of Our Lady of Kazan, with three colors of gold plate over .875 silver oklad, a rose gold halo and yellow gold robes, the icon and frame seated inside a custom glass-top box, sold for $2,000. Day two featured 580 lots of 3D collectibles, clocks, musical items, furnishings, clothing, flatware, advertising, general store, bottles, saloon, gaming, tobacciana, cowboy, entertainment, circus, toys, sports, transportation and railroad, political, military, firearms and weaponry, and general ephemera. One of the days top earners was an archive of hardware and library material from the private collection of a Spy Craft OSS (Office of Strategic Service, which later became the CIA) member during WWII, which commanded $8,750. Also, a near-mint example of a marked Virginia & Truckee Nevada railroad lantern from around 1915, the globe etched, V. & T. Ry and the very top marked with embossing, garnered $2,375. It was one of about 50 railroad lanterns in the sale. A ca. 1893, first generation Colt single action Army revolver, .38-.40 caliber, nickel plated, with a 7.5 inch barrel and built on a black powder frame, hit the mark for $3,875. The gun came with a large scabbard holster. Also, a ca. 1886-95 purple half-pint pumpkinseed whiskey flask bottle from Wine House / Liquors & Cigars / Reno, Nev., the older variant, sold for $2,625. Day three showcased 517 lots of antique and vintage stocks and bonds, banking, mining, collectibles, industry and oil, railroad and transportation, and miscellaneous. Day four contained over 650 lots of minerals, mining, artifacts, ephemera, scales, numismatics, tokens, philatelic, stamps, covers, Wells Fargo/Express, and postcards. The California Gold Rush-era gold and quartz nugget, discovered in the Shasta area, was so large (2.5-by-3.5 inches and weighing 1.75 pounds) it almost looked like a small boulder. It was found decades ago by metal detecting in old sluice or dredge tailings. The Robert Matheson letters from 1883-86, meanwhile, comprised 23 handwritten letters (about 100 pages) and ephemeral pieces, pertaining to the Bisbee Massacre and Apache attacks in Tombstone, Ariz. A large collection of U.S. star notes (replacement banknotes, printed to replace a faulty one and are a control mechanism for the monetary authorities to know the exact number of banknotes being printed), dating from 1977-2017 and having a total face value of $2,170, earned $2,750. An interesting #71 cancel study group of 61 stamps with cancel color variations, to include black and blue, primarily collected for cancel varieties, most well-centered, went for $2,500. Online bidding was facilitated by iCollector.com, LiveAuctrioneers.com and Invaluable.com. To learn more, call Fred Holabird at 775-851-1859 or 844-492-2766 or visit www.holabirdamericana.com. Updates are posted often.


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