Rare John Wesley Hardin Signed and Shot-Through Playing Card

A king of spades playing card shot through five times, signed J.W. Hardin in the right margin and dated July 4 '95 in the lower margin. The handful of other known examples appear to be from the same deck and singed on the same date (or 8-4-95 which may have just been a mistake numbering the month on Hardin's part), just a month and a half before Hardin was killed in the Acme Saloon in El Paso, TX. The gunslinger was part owner of the bar and gambling venue and he reportedly signed these cards for patrons as a souvenir of a shooting demonstration he put on for the Fourth of July. Card is accompanied by signed statements from two previous owners, including distinguished collector Craig A. Fouts.

John Wesley Hardin (1853-1895) was one of Texas' most notorious killers, admitting in his own autobiography to the murder of 27 men (others credit him with killing as many as 40). He was continuously in and out of trouble, and gained the reputation of a stone cold killer, though primarily of similar ne'er-do-wells. In 1874, after joining a cattle drive up the Chisholm Trail, he killed Charles Webb, deputy sheriff of Brown County. The killing of a lawman increased the authorities interest in Hardin, and after bouncing around Texas, he fled the state for Florida. He was arrested peacefully by the Texas Rangers at Pensacola on July 23, 1877. Extradited to Texas, Hardin was tried for the murder of Webb and sentenced to 25 years in the penitentiary.

During his internment, Hardin read widely and became deeply religious. When he was pardoned in 1895 he became involved in politics and law, eventually taking up practice in El Paso. Bad habits were hard to break, however, and he eventually turned to his old ways. On August 19, 1895, he was shot in the back of the head by John Selman, standing at R.B. Stephen's "Acme Bar" in El Paso.


Ink smudged, but appears to have been done at the time of signing.

Estimate: $6,000 - $8,000
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium


Have a Similar Item?

Consign With Us