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Press Release - May 30, 2012
‘Buffalo’ Bill’s Favorite Gun Readies For Wild West Auction At Heritage
Legendary cowboy’s Remington revolver at Heritage Auctions, part of amazing June 10 Legends of the Wild West Auction; signed Sitting Bull Portrait and Wild West show contract also featured in event
So wrote “Buffalo” Bill Cody – America’s most famous Wild West figure and showman – of his beloved and trusted Remington .44 revolver, coming to auction on June 10 as part of Heritage Auction’s Legends of the Wild West Signature® Auction. It is expected to bring more than $200,000.
“This is the most important Will F. ‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody gun in existence,” said Tom Slater, Director of Americana Auctions at Heritage. “To say that it ‘never failed’ him is the most eloquent tribute a craftsman can pay to his favorite tool, and few craftsmen ever depended a tool the way Buffalo Bill depending on this gun.”
It’s not known when Cody acquired this Civil War-issue Remington New Model Army .44 percussion revolver, but he carried it and counted on it as a plainsman guiding America's frontier army during the Indian Wars; he was one of the busiest and most respected of all the civilian scouts and guides for the U.S. Army. One of his commanders, Gen. Eugene Carr of the 5th Cavalry, wrote of Cody that “his eyes were better than a good field glass,” that his marksmanship was exceptional and that he was always in the right place at the right time.
From 1868 through 1876 Buffalo Bill fought in 19 documented battles and skirmishes – more than all but a handful of soldiers – and was awarded the Medal of Honor for a fight in 1872. This gun was with him through it all.
“Buffalo Bill went on to fame and fortune, of course, first on the stage and then with the first and greatest Wild West show from 1883 to 1913,” said Slater. “By the end of the 19th century he was one of the most famous Americans in the world and certainly the most photographed.”
Cody was notoriously unsentimental about his possessions, saving very few relics from his days on the plains. He did save two of them, however: His rifle, which can be viewed at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming, and this very gun. For Christmas 1906 he gave it to his longtime “best and most trusted friend” Charles Trego and Charlie's wife, Carrie – an extraordinary token of affection and high esteem indeed – to which he wrote an accompanying note on his business card, which accompanies this gun and the extraordinary archive documenting it:
“To Charlie & Carrie Trego. This old Remington revolver. I carried and used for many years in Indian Wars and Buffalo killing. And it never failed me. WF Cody Dec 13th 1906.” Coming to auction along with the gun is another grouping of lots relating to Cody’s famous Wild West show related to the great Sioux Indian Chief Sitting Bull, including the original 1885 contract for him to appear in Buffalo Bill's Wild West, signed by Sitting Bull (c. 1831-1890), at $25 a month. It is estimated at $50,000+.
Also included is a marvelous oil portrait of Sitting Bull, painted from life by H. H. Cross in 1882 and actually signed by the Great Chief. Cross was one of the best known Western painters of the day. He is believed to have produced some 1000 works, half of which were Western subject matter. He painted at least 33 portraits of Sitting Bull. This one is estimated at $20,000+.
“It’s hard to envision a more important example of this artist's work than this one,” said Slater. “Sitting Bull was clearly his favorite subject and this is arguably his best work done on the famous man.”
The Legends of the Wild West auction will include a grouping of dozens of items consigned by the heir of legendary old west sharpshooter Annie Oakley, including her Stetson hat and Parker Brothers shotgun.
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