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Bond Signed by Vanderbilt, Stock Signed by Houdini Change Hands at Holabird Western Americana Sale

A California Gold Rush-era bond from 1856 signed by Cornelius Vanderbilt sold for $11,250, a photo of the execution hanging of outlaw Fleming “James” Parker taken in 1898 brought $9,062, and a gorgeous circa 1880-1920 Red Mesa Navajo rug in near-perfect condition rose to $5,000 at a huge, five-day Western Americana Signature Sale held May 13th thru 17th by Holabird Western Americana Collections, online and live in the Reno gallery at 3555 Airway Drive.

This auction was brimming with over 3,000 lots of historical autographs, gold nuggets and high-grade gold specimens, minerals and mining collectibles, rare reference books, firearms and militaria, numismatics, stock and bond certificates, silver ingots, Native Americana, gaming collectibles, firefighting memorabilia, artwork, turquoise jewelry, medals, tokens and more.

Day 1 featured original artwork, stocks and bonds (including mining and non-mining) and autographs. The Vanderbilt-signed bond certificate, as president of the Accessory Transit Company of Nicaragua, which transported gold prospectors from the East Coast to the West Coast, was the star lot of the day. Issued on Feb. 9, 1856 for $5,000, with early bond number 14, the bond was signed front and back by Vanderbilt. It was also signed by Isaac Lea as secretary.

Also sold on Day 1 was a Delaware and Schuylkill Canal Navigation Company (Philadelphia, Pa.) stock certificate dated Aug. 4, 1792, significant because it was signed by Declaration of Independence signer Robert Morris, the company president ($4,375); and a stock certificate for the Houdini Picture Corporation in New York City from 1921, signed by Houdini himself, as company president ($3,375). Houdini produced and starred in two films under the corporation.

Day 2, on May 14th, showcased mining and mineral collectibles (including ore specimens and fossils), railroadiana and transportation, and philatelic (including covers, stamps and postcards). A top lot was a pair of albums containing photographs and diazo copies of photos) of the construction of the concentrator and smelter by the Nevada Copper Corporation from 1907-1908 ($6,250). The facility processed copper ores from the mines around Ruth, Nevada, near Ely.

Also offered on Day 2 was a collection of cigarette lighters, ashtrays, brass tie-tacks, ballpoint pens and stickers from Kennecott Copper and Asamera Oil ($5,875), plus a brass Kennecott paperweight and a brass ankh with Kennecott’s “K” logo; and a spectacular, naturally dark and smoky quartz from the Incline Village pegmatite in Nevada City, mined in the early 1970s by Reno mineral dealer Harvey Gordon, 13 inches tall and weighing around 30 pounds ($3,125).

Day 3 featured firearms, military and political memorabilia, cowboy and Western, jewelry, badges and numismatics (ingots, coins, medals, so-called dollars and tokens). A silver ingot weighing 5.15 troy oz., engraved from Julius A. Turrill (White River / Pioche, Nev.), who owned stock in the Comstock mines, to his nephew Clayton, circa 1874, changed hands for $5,875.

A historic, original 1909 Wild West poster for “Pawnee Bill’s Great Far East combined with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West”, advertising the show’s “Marvelous Musical Elephants”, 30 inches by 40 inches mounted on linen, knocked down for $4,375; while an exceedingly rare Giles token (Goldfield, Nev.), one of only three known (“Good for One Bucket of Water”) garnered $4,000.

Day 4, May 16th, was dedicated to Native Americana and general Americana and was arguably the most active day of the auction. It was led by the photo of the hanging execution in 1898 of Fleming “James” Parker, taken by photographer H. L. Hamaker in Prescott, Arizona. Parker was arrested for robbing a train, then escaped jail and murdered the Prescott district attorney, E. Lee Norris. He was later captured and sentenced to death by hanging in the city’s courthouse square.

Day 4 also featured the beautiful, circa 1880-1920 Red Mesa Navajo rug, a gorgeous example, 5 feet by 8 feet 5 inches and only recently professionally cleaned and restored. Red Mesa rugs incorporated dramatic, exotic colors, inspired by Hispanic weavings. The style is a form Teec Noc Pos, while maintaining contrasting light and dark colors, vertical chevrons and diamonds.

A magnificent oil on canvas advertising painting for Moon Castle Whiskey (“Now serving here at Tombstone’s own Birdcage Theater”), beautifully housed in a 22 ½ inch by 27 inch frame, went for $3,875. The painting was probably a fantasy advertisement, meant to attract people to Western saloons and the Western saloon historical concept, so popular in the 1960s and ‘70s.

A 1907-1908 Nevada directory by Polk, a fabulous historical resource published when Goldfield and Tonopah were the center of all activity, listing corporations, mining (and other) laws, post offices, railroads and more, found a new owner for $4,500. Also, a Comstock area (Nevada) fire bell from 1876, inscribed “Silver City, Nevada 1876 Liberty Fire Dept. No. 1”, made $3,125.

Day 5 featured general foreign, bottles, sports, and bargains and dealer specials, to include general Americana, philatelic, stocks and bonds, numismatics and tokens. A rare and beautiful group of four Russian Orthodox Church bishop’s bells, made in Russia circa 1997-2000, was offered as one lot. Bell ringing is a church tradition in Russia and the group finished at $3,250.

Internet bidding was facilitated by iCollector.com, LiveAuctioneers.com, Invaluable.com and Auctionzip.com. Telephone and absentee bids were also accepted. Anyone owning a collection that might fit into an upcoming Holabird Western Americana Collections auction is encouraged to get in touch. The firm travels extensively throughout the United States, to assess and pick up collections. The company has agents all over America and will travel to inspect most collections.

To learn more about Holabird Western Americana Collections, visit www.holabirdamericana.com. Updates are posted often.

Dinesh Kumar

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