Rare George Washington relics headline Americana & Political auction at Heritage Special section of 100+ lots honoring America’s first president, along with significant Western Americana, at Heritage’s May 21 auction
a copy of the sought-after “Pony Express Bible” (estimate: $15,000+), as well as rare cabinet photos of “Wild Bill” Hickok (estimate: $20,000+)) and “Calamity Jane” Canary (estimate: $15,000+) and a group of photos and personal effects of William F. “Doc” Carver, renowned 19th century trick shooter and the first Wild West show partner of “Buffalo Bill” Cody – even including an autographed pair of the famed showman’s boots (estimate: $5,000+).
Among the significant Western autographed items are a rare early 1870 document signed by lawman Wyatt Earp (estimate: $20,000+) and a remarkable autograph book signed in 1873 by Hickcok, Cody, and other Western figures who assembled in New York City to appear in the stage play “Scouts of the Plains” (estimate: $15,000+).
“Hickok’s autograph is a rare one among early Western figures,” said Slater, “and notoriously hard to authenticate, but he signed this book twice and the context clearly validates the signature.”
Perhaps the most dazzling Western items in the auction are a series of eight rare gold-headed presentation canes and walking sticks, several with beautiful gold quartz inlay. Among the most important is a rare 1855 San Francisco walking stick presented by James “King of William” King to journalist Abel Whitton (estimate: $25,000+), and an incredible 1869 cane marking the completion of the transcontinental railroad (estimate: $20,000+).
James King and his associate Whitton published a muck-raking newspaper that incurred the enmity of the corrupt San Francisco establishment, and his brutal murder in 1856 led to a resurgence of the then-dormant Vigilantes, who seized, tried, and executed King’s killer.
“The tragic event catalyzed at last the rooting out of corruption in the notorious city,” said Slater, “and is considered one of the most important events in early San Francisco history.”
The 1869 cane was commissioned by David Hewes, brother-in-law of Leland Stanford, to celebrate the epic joining of the rails at Promontory Point. The wood in the cane is from the piece of California laurel used for the ceremonial final railroad tie, and the gold is from the same batch used to cast the legendary “Golden Spike.”
“What makes this cane particularly important,” said Slater, “is the fact that the final tie was destroyed, along with the railroad’s corporate offices, in the fire which followed the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Accordingly, it is the only surviving sample of the wood from which the tie was crafted.”
Political Americana is always a featured section of every Heritage Americana auction, and the May 21 sale is no exception. The standout offering is a very rare, full color 1900 campaign pinback button showing the Democratic ticket of William Jennings Bryan and Adlai Stevenson “eclipsing” the Republican candidates, William McKinley and Teddy Roosevelt (estimate: $12,000+). While the button proved a poor prognosticator – McKinley won in a landslide – this rare pinback remains a classic collector favorite. The last example to appear on the market was sold by Heritage for slightly over $20,000 in a 2006 auction.