[WESTERN AMERICANA - CRIME & PUNISHMENT]. Alferd Packer, "The Colorado Cannibal," Prisoner-Made Cowhorn Curiosity From Cañon City, Colorado Prison

Pin cushion, approx. 10 in. lg., top diam. 2.5 in. Prisoner-made horn which has been turned into a pin cushion with cotton velvet sewn at the horn's opening, brocade cord wrapped around the circumference. Typed label on the side reads: "Pin cushion made by a prisoner at Canon City, Colo. Sentenced for Maneating. Purchased in 1896. by Wm Epley."

Accompanied by documentation furnished by consignor tracing the provenance of the object, which was purchased by William Epley of Sedgwick, CO, during a visit to the prison at Cañon City in 1896. Epley gifted the pin cushion to his son-in-law, Ward Miles Pulver of Sedgwick, CO, who purportedly placed the typed paper label on the object in the 1930s. This was around the same time that the Pulver family launched their Traveling School Museum and Hobby Show. The pin cushion, which was part of the hobby show collection, was subsequently gifted to Pulver's grandson in the 1960s, who, in turn, gifted the pin cushion to the current owner. 

Alferd Packer (1842-1907), best remembered as "The Colorado Cannibal," was a prospector and guide, and earned his morbid sobriquet when he was leading a group of five men through the San Juan Mountains in southwest Colorado during the brutal winter of 1874. Packer arrived alone, two months after their departure, at Los Piños Indian Agency. He initially claimed to have been separated from the group, but quickly admitted to cannibalism in order to survive. His story did continue to change - he first claimed that he only ate his companions after they perished, but evidence suggested otherwise. He was charged with murder and convicted, but escaped not long after his conviction. He lived on the lam in Wyoming under the pseudonym John Schwartze. He was eventually captured and given a new trial in 1885, in which he was sentenced to 40 years in the State Penitentiary in Cañon City, though he was paroled just 15 years later in 1901. He was the only inmate at Canon City in 1896 who fit the typewritten description affixed to the pin cushion. 

Estimate: $800 - $1,200
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium


Have a Similar Item?

Consign With Us


Cowan’s Cincinnati Office offers an in-house, full-service shipping department which is unparalleled in the auction industry. Shipping costs are provided with your finalized invoice 24-48 hours after auction. For furniture and oversized items, we recommend using third-party services. For more information, click HERE or contact cowansshipping@hindmanauctions.com.  

NOTE: All pickups and preview are by appointment only. To make an appointment, please call 513-871-1670 or email cincinnati@hindmanauctions.com