Items relating to Buffalo Bill Cody were among the standouts in Cowan’s successful November 18 American History Live Auction. In addition to Buffalo Bill and Wild West Show items, it was a good day for materials dating from the 18th and 19th centuries with all 25 of the top lots sold in the auction dated pre-1900. Not surprisingly, the Civil War was the most sought after era, comprising 13 of the 25 highest hammer prices.
The highest price of the afternoon was achieved for an outstanding sixth plate tintype of a young Buffalo Bill Cody posed with guns and game, which sold for $36,000. Buffalo Bill was in high demand all day with ten items related to the showman selling for over $2,000 including the “Key to the City” of Manchester, England, presented to him in 1887, for $7,800; a collection of Buffalo Bill’s Wild Show Cabinet Cards for $4,200; and a “Buffalo Bill Still Holds the Reins” full sheet poster by Russell-Morgan for $3,900.
“Much of this material was consigned by a private collector who had bought the best of the best associated with Buffalo Bill and the Wild West Show,” said Katie Horstman, Cowan’s director of American History. “Our customers realized they had a rare opportunity to purchase some unique items for the first time in decades and clearly they jumped at the opportunity.”
Of the signed documents, a Samuel Adams ALS from 1777 was the top lot selling for $27,600. Part of the allure of this particular letter was that it was addressed to fellow founding father and representative of Massachusetts in the Second Continental Congress, Elbridge Gerry.
Other documents that did well included a John Hancock signed commission appointing Clement Biddle an officer in the Continental Army, dated July 8, 1776, for $18,000; an Abraham Lincoln autograph letter signed as President on June 18, 1864 for $15,600; and a George Washington and Thomas Jefferson DS from 1793, for $9,600.
As always, the Civil War proved to be a popular era. The highlight of the era was Gardner’s Photographic Sketch Book of the War, Philps & Solomons, 1865-1866, Volume II, which sold for $13,200. Other top lots from the era include Brigadier General James Sanks Brisbin’s Civil War Archive for $10,200; Colonel Richard C. Dawkins, Kentucky Volunteers, Civil War Journal, dated 1862-1863, for $8,400; and a rare autograph book of Confederate Prisoner’s at Johnson Island for $7,800.
One of the more unique collections in the sale was a group of Civil War era, hand-carved pipes from the renowned collection of N. Flayderman & Co. Highlights from this collection include a “Battle of Antietam” carved pipe for $2,400; a “2nd New Hampshire Volunteers” carved pipe for $1,920; and a “Bull Run” carved pipe for $1,680.
Additional items from the Flayderman & Co. Collection will be available in a February 2017 auction.
Miscellaneous highlights from the sale include an exceptionally rare Fremont & Dayton “Give ‘Em Jessie” flag from the 1856 presidential campaign for $27,600; an extraordinarily rare CDV of the hanging of Little Six and Medicine Bottle for $18,000; and pencil-drawn diagrams of Fort Shaw and Fort Missoula in the Montana Territory from the 1880s for $8,400.
For more information on the auction and to view all prices realized, click here.