Published: February 21, 2017
Review and Photos by Michael Friedman
MESA, ARIZ. – Brian Lebel’s High Noon auction January 21 at the Phoenix Marriott Mesa saw a bidding skirmish for an 1874 Sharps rifle forensically proved used by the Indians in June 1876 at the Battle of the Little Bighorn where General Custer famously made his last stand. The sale topped $1.5 million, according to Lebel.
The rifle was the catalog cover lot among 435 items in the sale, and topped the sale at $272,250 when it sold to a private collector. The standing-room-only auction included the estate collections of Thomas W. Lorimer, Larry Howard and Tommy “Snuff” Garrett.
The second highest-grossing lot of the day was a Keyston Bros, San Francisco, exhibition saddle that bested its $70/90,000 estimate to fetch $121,000. The intricately carved, sterling silver-mounted saddle outfitted with gold horse heads tells the story of California and the new frontier through scenes of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Pony Express, gold mines, Indians, Buffalo Bill and early pioneers.
A few notable items from the Hollywood era, coming from the estate of Larry Howard, were Tom Mix’s personal batwing chaps in his characteristic “high and tight” fit, which brought a whopping $20,570, and one of his famous hats, made custom for him by John B. Stetson, which realized $3,327. Mix’s custom-made, two-tone cowboy boots with elaborate stitching were a good buy at $5,445. From the Garrett estate, Roy Rogers’ personal double eagle boots having red, white and blue inlay sold for $7,865.
A charming Nineteenth Century Mexican sombrero with eight embroidered roosters brought $2,178 and an unworn pair of Hamley white angora woolie chaps were hammered down at an impressive $7,260.
A standout lot, which graced the back cover of the catalog, was a signed watercolor by Edward Borein, “Mustang Round-Up.” It sold within estimate for $54,450.
A number of Plains Indian beadwork items and pottery struggled to meet expectations with some notable exceptions, such as a Crow elk tooth dress that handily outperformed its estimate at $18,150. Geronimo’s necklace, which was acquired on the day of his capture, was one of the more historic Indian items but failed to sell with an estimate of $20/30,000.
Rex Schnitger spurs are much sought after by collectors. A large and attractive pair of his vintage spurs reached a very healthy $21,780 against an estimate of $8/12,000, and a large pair of custom Pendleton, Roy Quick, spurs by noted contemporary Colorado maker Bill Adamson sold midestimate at $4,537.
Between the show and the auction, it was a successful weekend and good time for cowboys and Indians in Mesa.
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