Rare Book Monthly

Articles - August - 2021 Issue

The Big Guns will be in the rooms: At Bonhams

The gun used to shoot Billy The Kid

Books, manuscript, maps, and ephemera take you only so far.  It’s possible to disappear into a great story but it’s close to shocking to consider you can personally acquire objects mentioned, pictured and/or referenced in stories you learned by heart when you were a kid. I’m writing about this as Bonhams is soon to sell The Earle Collection of the Early West which is deep with history-laden objects.  It’s well worth a look.


Some collections are unintentional but the Earle Collection was not.  Mr. Earle’s collection was from the get-go heavy on guns with historical association.  A few years ago he described one example, the gun that killed Billy the Kid  as “This is not just a gun – it is the history of America.”  Such objects have been commanding auction house attention for decades and no doubt many will reappear in the years ahead.  Violence fascinates.


Depending whether your interest is about the good or bad guys you have many choices in this sale.  Mr. Earle collected both.  Lots 1- to 49 are weapons.  The bad guys’ weapons are often more valuable although Pat Garrett’s colt single action army revolver he used to kill Billy is estimated at $2,000,000-3,000,000 while a rifle that Mr. Bonney stole from the Lincoln County Courthouse to escape in 1876 is estimated $300,000-500,000.


While the collection includes objects relating both to famous desperados and lawmen, there are many opportunities to bid on weapons that will not require taking out second mortgages.   Twenty-two of the 49 weapons have low estimates beginning under $10,000.


And there is more - two other related sections:  Fine Art, Decorative Art and Western Collectibles, and Manuscripts and Memorabilia.  Such material has long been in Rare Book Hub’s Transactions+; 1,328 lots mention Billy the Kid while Pat Garret appears in 373.  In Bonhams’ new catalogue there are going to be many lots including letters, manuscripts, ephemera that are new to us.


The second section of the sale [lots 50-94] focuses on fine art, decorative art and western collectibles, comprising 45 lots including paintings, sculptures, objects including drums, strong boxes, a panoply of objects, as well as saddles and chaps.


Ephemera is included in the third section, Manuscripts and Memorabilia, lots 95 to 265.  Here are some examples:


Lot 103.  Samuel Colt’s Gold-Handled Ebonized Walking Cane. $3,000 -5,000


Lot 106.  Photographs and Books relating to the Fisk-Stokes-Mansfield Affair.  $800-1,200


Lot 108.  Last studio portrait of Custer.  $800-1,200


Lot 116.  Sitting Bull Cabinet Card.  $800-1,200


Lot 120.  Buffalo Bill Silver Coin Pocket Watch.  $8,000-12,000


Lot 122.  Calamity Jane Cabinet Card.  $2,000-3,000


Lot 127.  Portrait of Jesse James. $6,000-8,000


Lot 133.  The Death of Bob Ford.  Death was real.  $1,500-2,500


Lot 135.  Signed Copy of Cole Younger’s Autobiography.  $6,000-8,000


Lot 152.  Bat Masterson Presentation Pocket Watch and Fob.  $20,000-30,000


Lot 158.  The Dalton Gang in Photographs.  $3,000-5,000


Lot 165.  Early Wyatt Earp Warrant.  $10,000-15,000


Lot 174.  Rare Virgil Earp


Lot 232.  John Wesley Hardin in Death.  $4,000-6,000


As well, there is a tip of the hat to 20th century criminals.


Lot 256.  John Dillinger $800-1,200


Lot 257.  Gangsters including John Dillinger and Al Capone.


As a writer about books, manuscript, maps and ephemera, I’m taking a deep breath and state the obvious:  crime pays.


Here's a link to the complete sale.


Rare Book Monthly

  • Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Marx, Das Kapital,1867. Dedication copy. Est: € 120,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Latin and French Book of Hours, around 1380. Est: € 25,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Theodor de Bry, Indiae Orientalis, 1598-1625. Est: € 80,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviary, Latin manuscript, around 1450-75. Est: € 10,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    G. B. Piranesi, Vedute di Roma, 1748-69. Est: € 60,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Schmidt-Rottluff, Arbeiter, 1921. Orig. watercolour on postcard. Est: € 18,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviarium Romanum, Latin manuscript, 1474. Est: € 20,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    C. J. Trew, Plantae selectae, 1750-73. Est: € 28,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    M. Beckmann, Apokalypse, 1943. Est: € 50,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Ulrich von Richenthal, Das Concilium, 1536. Est: € 9,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    I. Kant, Critik der reinen Vernunft, 1781. Est: €12,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Arbeiter-Illustrierte Zeitung (AIZ) / Die Volks-Illustrierte (VI), 1932-38. Est: €8,000
  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard. A Collection of The Pooh Books. Set of First-Editions. 18,600 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Finely Bound and Signed Limited Edition. 15,000 USD
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter Series. Finely Bound First Printing Set of Complete Series. 5,650 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. First Edition, First Printing. 4,200 USD
  • Manuscript Masterpieces from the Schøyen Collection
    London auction, 11 June
    Christie’s, Explore now: The Holkham Hebrew Bible. In Hebrew, decorated manuscript on vellum [Toledo, 2nd quarter 13th century]. £1,500,000–3,000,000
    Christie’s, Explore now: The Crosby-Schøyen Codex. In Coptic, manuscript on papyrus [Upper Egypt, middle 3rd century / 4th century]. £2,000,000–3,000,000
    Christie’s, Explore now: The Geraardsbergen Bible. In Latin, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Southern Netherlands, late 12th century]. £700,000–1,000,000
    Christie’s, Explore now : Jean de Courcy (fl. 1420). The Chronique de la Bouquechardiere. In French, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Paris, c.1480]. £200,000–300,000
    Christie’s, Explore now: The ‘Catherine de Medici’ Hours. In Latin and French, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Paris, c.1485]. £120,000–180,000
  • Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Potter (Beatrix). Complete set of four original illustrations for the nursery rhyme, 'This pig went to market', 1890s. £60,000 to £80,000.
    Forum, May 30: Dante Alighieri.- Lactantius (Lucius Coelius Firmianus). Opera, second edition, Rome, 1468. £40,000 to £60,000.
    Forum, May 30: Distilling.- Brunschwig (Hieronymus). Liber de arte Distillandi de Compositis, first edition of the so-called 'Grosses Destillierbuch', Strassburg, 1512. £22,000 to £28,000.
    Forum, May 30: Eliot (T.S.), W. H. Auden, Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin, Robert Lowell, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, & others. A Personal Anthology for Eric Walter White, 60 autograph poems. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum, May 30: Cornerstone of French Enlightenment Philosophy.- Helvetius (Claude Adrien). De l'Esprit, true first issue "A" of the suppressed first edition, Paris, 1758. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Szyk (Arthur). The Haggadah, one of 125 copies, this out-of-series, Beaconsfield Press, 1940. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Fleming (Ian). Casino Royale, first edition, first impression, 1953. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Japan.- Ryusui (Katsuma). Umi no Sachi [Wealth of the Sea], 2 vol., Tokyo, 1762. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Computing.- Operating and maintenance manual for the BINAC binary automatic computer built for Northrop Aircraft Corporation 1949, Philadelphia, 1949. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Burmese School (probably circa 1870s). Folding manuscript, or parabaik, from the Court Workshop at the Royal Court at Manadaly, Burma, [c.1870s]. £8,000 to £12,000.

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