Santa Fe, NM, USA, July 24, 2021 — A Henry repeating rifle manufactured in 1863 and a J. Tapia target pattern spade bit shared top lot honors at the 31st annual Cody Old West Auction held June 26th by Brian Lebel’s Old West Events at the Hilton Santa Fe Historic Plaza in Santa Fe, as well as online via the Old West Events website, www.OldWestEvents.com. Both lots knocked down for $23,600.
As with past events, the auction was part of a three-day Old West Show, held June 25th-27th, also hosted by Old West Events, in the nearby Santa Fe Community Convention Center. The auction was packed with 384 lots, all but two of which ended up changing hands, for a 99.5 percent sell-through, a record for Brian Lebel’s Old West Events. The total gross was just over $1 million.
Major categories included cowboy antiques and collectibles (saddles, spurs, bits, etc.); Native American artifacts; antique and historic firearms; Hollywood cowboy memorabilia; Western fine art; Old West gambling and saloon items; antique and contemporary belt buckles and other silverwork; antique advertising and lithography; and Western decorative arts and furniture.
The Henry repeating rifle, serial number 1729, was a .44 rimfire caliber weapon with a 24-inch barrel. It had a brass frame and blue finish, walnut stock, original sights, matching numbers and extra sight dove tail in the frame. It boasted a very good bore, an even “gun metal” gray-blue barrel and great patina on all brass surfaces. It was excellent mechanically, with excellent marks.
The elaborate J. Tapia multi-spotted large silver inlaid California target pattern spade bit was made in the 1890s, with multiple rows of dots forming a central target pattern on each cheek. Also, a pair of J. Tapia silver inlaid drop shank California spurs mounted on the heelbands with three ¾-inch coin silver spots featuring Tapia’s trademark raised nipples, gaveled for $10,925.
“Hollywood cowboys were a big hit on auction night, where a large collection of personal and screen-worn celebrity hats sold for way above estimate,” said Brian Lebel, owner of Old West Events. “A hat from rodeo champion and cowboy actor Ben Johnson sold for $8,850, more than 14 times its high estimate, while Clint Eastwood’s hat from the film Joe Kidd brought $8,625.”
Lebel said final prices were mostly within, or higher than, estimates, with strong bidding in all categories. “The internet, phones and live bidders were all busy, with live bidders representing the largest portion of buyers. The sale moved at a fast pace, and strong sales kept the excitement level high throughout. No one knew quite what to expect. We knew we had great items, but no one could predict such an enthusiastic sale, both in terms of live attendees and total sales prices.”
The auction was held in conjunction with the Cody Old West Show, also held by Brian Lebel’s Old West Events. Because of COVID restrictions, only 65 vendors were allowed to set-up, but they all reported extremely strong sales and a very good weekend. Attendance exceeded 1,500 over the weekend show. More than one dealer said, “It was the best show I’ve had in decades.”
Following are additional highlights from the auction. All prices quoted include the buyer’s premium.
The roll-top desk and chair used by Pat Garrett while he was sheriff in Dona Ana, New Mexico, from 1896-1900, both made in the 1880s, with the original 1884 bill of sale and a photo of Garrett, hammered for $16,100. Also, J. B. Farr’s early 1900s 14kt gold presentation sheriff’s badge, an important piece of Colorado history and a great example of a presentation badge – highly detailed, elegant and ornate – went for $22,420 against an estimate of $8,000-$12,000.
A circa 1893 Winchester Model 1886 saddle ring carbine, 40-65 caliber with a 22-inch barrel, blue and case color finish, walnut stock and forearm and original sights, excellent throughout, hit the mark for $21,240. Also, A Colt single action Army six-shooter manufactured in 1895, 44-40 caliber with a 4 ¾-inch barrel, once belonging to O. Frank Hicks, a private with the Arizona Rangers, tasked with ridding the Arizona Territory of its criminal element, rang up $17,250.
A maker-marked, expertly restored Edward H. Bohlin double buscadero gun rig, with a pair of 1880s-era Colt .45 single actions with silver Bohlin-style gun grips and 5 ½ inch barrels, with a possible Hollywood cowboy connection, reached $18,880. Also, a Florence State Penitentiary horsehair bridle, brightly colored, with triple strand round cheeks and double brow band and having an unusual bit showing a bare-chested woman dancing above a snake, fetched $12,650.
A hand-carved wooden bull head with real horns and Wild West history, having hung in “Shotgun” Ben Thompson’s Bulls Head Saloon in Abilene, Kansas, 30 inches tall and with a 40-inch horn spread, went for $12,650. Also, an oil on canvas original advertising artwork for Climax Tobacco (“Highly Bred and Sweetly Tempered”), by an unidentified artist, 50 ¼ inches by 31 ¾ inches (sight, less the gold gesso frame), a great saloon display item, brought $9,775.
Brian Lebel’s Old West Events’ next big show and auction will be held January 21st thru 23rd, 2022 in Mesa, Arizona. Watch the website for more information, at www.OldWestEvents.com.