Published: February 28, 2012
The High Noon Western Americana Weekend event was conducted January 28′9 at the Mesa Convention Center and adjacent Marriott Mesa Hotel. Produced by High Noon of Los Angeles, Calif., the two-day event began on Saturday morning when the doors to the High Noon show opened †an event that showcases more than 150 purveyors of Western Americana antiques, fine art, artifacts, cowboy, vaquero, American Indian, jewelry, clothing and more. Record attendance was recorded for this 22nd annual event, according to the firm. For two days, shoppers and collectors packed the aisles of the convention center, with many dealers reporting this was their best show ever.
While the show was extremely successful, it was the High Noon auction, conducted on Saturday evening, that had eyes around the world watching. No one in attendance would be disappointed at the excitement and the dollars realized on the more than 300 lots of Western and Native Americana, fine art, artifacts, historic property and Hollywood memorabilia. The ballroom at the Marriott Mesa Hotel was standing room only as almost $2 million was realized on the lots offered. Bidding was highly competitive from the floor, phone and Internet and it was an exciting evening to watch.
The key offering of the sale was a rare, historic, silver embroidered saddle that belonged to the infamous renegade and revolutionary hero Pancho Villa. Prior to Villa’s assassination in 1923, the saddle was created for him by Mexican artisans and presented to him.
Smothered in silver-wrapped threads over leather stump work with boldly-domed silver conchos, the saddle bears the marks of the craftsmen, and on each silver stirrup the carved styled initials of Francisco Villa (Villa’s given name) appears.
The saddle was offered without reserve, and its consignors sat in the audience with great anticipation, hoping it would be bought by someone who would share this important piece of history with the world. Presale estimate was $150/250,000, and auctioneer Troy Black opened the bidding at $125,000; he quickly escalated the increments until it became a two-bidder war at $500,000. The bidding competition ensued until the hammer dropped on the winning bid of $718,00 †a new world record for a saddle at auction.
Applause and cheers filled the ballroom in honor of the new owner, a passionate south Texas collector who plans on having the saddle on display in a yet-to-be-announced museum.
Another saddle and en suite spurs took second place in price realized. The elegant sterling and gold mounted 1920s Mabel Yorba saddle, custom made by Edward H. Bohlin, estimated to sell for $60/90,000, and the Mabel Yorba spurs, also custom made by Bohlin ($7/11,000) earned an impressive $109,000 and $23,000, respectively.
Fine art performed well, with an Edward Borein (1872‱945) signed watercolor on paper headlining this category. Titled “The Long Drive,” this work sold for $80,500.
“Comin’ in the Roundup,” a signed oil on board by Frank McCarthy (1924′002) took second place in the fine art category, earning $44,850. An oil on canvas titled “Self Portrait on Horseback” by Frank B. Hoffman (1888‱958) sold over estimate at $34,500.
The American Indian category had several rich offerings. A Southern Cheyenne beaded shirt, circa 1870, in yellow ochre native tanned hide sold for $43,125, and a circa 1890 Sioux beaded dress earned $17,250. A brightly beaded Crow mirror bag, circa 1880, also performed very well, selling within estimate at $11,500.
Bits, spurs and bridles this year did not disappoint. A Jesus M. Tapia marked Southern California bit featured his characteristic engraving and trademark tendrils. This pair earned $17,250. The top seller in the bridles offered was a circa 1910 Walla Walla prison horsehair bridle, which sold for double its high estimate at $9,775.
Coming in top in the spurs was Montie Montana’s personal Bohlin spurs. Purchased by Montana in the late 1930s, these spurs made several appearances in his movies and more than 50 Pasadena Rose Parades and sold nicely for $14,375. And in chaps, the key lot was a pair of 1929 Hamley exhibition chaps. At the time they were made, they were the most expensive chaps the Pendleton, Ore., saddlery had ever produced. They sold for well over estimate at $9,200.
Rounding out the top lots was a parlor gaming chest. Created by the famed Udall & Ballou of New York, this early Twentieth Century chest sold for $34,500.
A rich piece of both Texas and American history was the first Texas brand book. Printed in 1965 and one of only four copies known to exist, this sold for $31,625.
As always, the glory days of the Hollywood cowboys are vied for by bidders and collectors. This year, it was silver screen hero Tom Mix and his personal belt and Bohlin buckle that flew past its high estimate, selling for $20,700.
Prices reported include the buyer’s premium. For information, www.highnoon.com or 310-202-9010.
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