The financially strapped city of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania got a bit of relief last week (July 15–21), as thousands of antiques, rare artifacts, and items relating to the Old West were put on the auction block, with the proceeds earmarked to help pay down the city’s debt. New York-based auction house Guernsey’s managed the auction in partnership with online bidding platform The Finest, based in Omaha, Nebraska. “A significant portion of the auction sold to online bidders,” according to Guernsey’s president Arlan Ettinger. “We had record-breaking attendance online.”
Pair Black Feet Beaded Hide Chaps & Jacket / Courtesy Guernsey's
The collection was assembled by Stephen Reed, a former Harrisburg mayor who assembled the objects over the course of his 28-year term. However, his hopes of building a historical museum of the American West were never realized. Nearly all the artifacts were stored in warehouses until the city decided to liquidate them and use the money to help improve its financial situation.
Advertising Board for Colt Revolvers / Courtesy Guernsey's
Items in the sale were offered with no reserve. Among the highlights were possessions from legendary gunfighter and dentist of the Old West, Doc Holliday. His frock coat fetched $55,000, while his pistol in a case sold for $50,000, and his dental chair went for $40,000, all to online bidders. Also a top seller was Allan Pinkerton’s detective badge, which sold for $37,500 and a signed letter from W.H. Bonney, aka Billy the Kid, which sold for $32,500.
Jessie James The Missouri Outlaw Poster / Courtesy Guernsey'sWatch video report on the Old West memorabilia auction in Harrisburg: