The only known photograph of Wyatt Earp, his five brothers and his
father is to be offered, along with two rare saloon tokens issued by
Wyatt’s brother Virgil Earp, at auction Aug. 17 and 18 at the Atlantis
Casino Resort in Reno, Nev., by Holabird-Kagin Americana.
The photograph “appears to have been taken in
Dodge City [Kansas] in 1875 as part of Morgan Earp’s wedding,”
according to the catalog. “The Earp men, as a close knit clan, would
have gladly gathered for such a momentous occasion. They most likely
served as groomsmen for Morgan. During this time, Wyatt was serving on
the local police department, while his brother Morgan served as deputy marshal.”
In his catalog description of the photo Fred
Holabird writes, “The photo was subject to an extensive forensic
evaluation by FBI trained and former longtime assistant sheriff with
Carson City [Nevada] Sheriff’s Office, Joe Curtis. The 21-page
authenticity report of his findings accompanies the piece. This is
probably the most important pictorial record of the Wild West to go on
sale to the public since the Billy the Kid photo sold at the 2011
Denver Wild West sale for $2.3 million.”
Virgil Earp tokens
Of the two Earp-related tokens offered, the
round aluminum token, issued circa 1902, bears the name V.W. EARP and
SAWTELLE (a California town) on one side. The other side of the
aluminum token states GOOD FOR 5¢ IN TRADE.
According to the catalog, “It is thought that
there are only four of the aluminum and one of the brass tokens known
in any condition.”
The aluminum token is known only in the 5-cent
denomination, according to the catalog.
“This denomination could have covered a number
of different things, though it was generally good for a glass of cheap
beer,” according to the description. “A ten-cent beer would have been
a better brand. Cigars sold in saloons were generally two and a half
cents. Shots of bourbon were generally one bit, or twelve and a half cents.”
Holabird writes that, though no maker is shown
on the tokens, they were probably made “by a Los Angeles die maker in
1902. The largest such company at the time was the Los Angeles Rubber
Stamp Co., who made similar coinage, and later marked their tokens at
the bottom of the obverse with ‘LARS’ or ‘LARS CO.’ ”
Holabird writes that the aluminum token “was
found in the Goldfield [mining] dump by token hunter and antique
dealer Lee Howard in the 1970s.”
According to Holabird, long-time collector and
Carson City Sheriff Hal Dunn purchased the token from Howard, and it
remained in his collection until after his death in 2007.
Holabird said the piece is “so rare that it
was not known at the time of the publication of Charlie Kappan’s
California Trade Tokens in 1976, but since was listed in the [Kappen]
Supplement because of the Dunn specimen (this piece).”
Unique brass token
The other token is an eight-sided brass token
circa 1902 that bears the name V.W. EARP and SAWTELLE on one side. The
other side states the token is GOOD FOR ONE RIDE. According to the
catalog the token “acted as a form of money for a buggy ride to and
from the Veterans Home” in Sawtelle, Calif.
Sawtelle was located about 3 miles from Santa
Monica and was later annexed by Los Angeles in 1922.
In the late 1800s Virgil’s father, Nicholas,
became ill and was placed in the Veterans Home at Sawtelle. James Earp
came to live nearby to care for his father.
“For the brief period of 1901-1903 both James
and Virgil lived part to full time in Sawtelle overseeing their father
Nick’s health. It was during this point that Virgil (or both) opened a
saloon,” according to the Holabird-Kagin auction catalog.
“As long time saloon owners, the Earp family
were experts at saloon management, and the tokens certainly must
reflect the ownership of one in Sawtelle.”
By mid-1904 Virgil left California to join
brother Wyatt in Tonopah, Nev. Virgil died in October 1905 and is
buried in Portland, Ore.
The legendary Earp family
Members of the Earp family were involved, at
one time or another, in many occupations, including serving as lawmen,
miners and stagecoach drivers, as well as saloon operators, according
Wyatt Earp was born in Monmouth, Ill., in
1848. His two older brothers, James and Virgil, were both born in Kentucky.
The patriarch of the family, Nicholas, went to
California to find gold in 1851 by way of San Bernardino, Calif.
According to the catalog, sometime after Wyatt
was born, the family moved to Pella, Iowa. Two more brothers, Morgan
and Warrren, were born in Iowa.
In 1864, the elder Earp along with Wyatt,
Morgan, Warren and James moved west from Iowa.
Virgil was already a stagecoach driver and he
worked in Nebraska, Iowa, Wyoming and Missouri.
By 1876 Wyatt was on the police force of Dodge
City, Kan. He was listed as a deputy marshal as late as March 31, 1877.
By late 1877, Virgil was in Prescott, Ariz.,
probably as a wagon master or stage driver. By 1881 Virgil was joined
by Wyatt and Morgan, and all three would be involved in the shoot-out
at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Ariz., where the legend and lore
surrounding the family became firmly established.
Morgan silver dollars
Also included in the auction will be 20 rolls
of Uncirculated 1884-O and 1885-O Morgan silver dollars in their
original paper wrappers.
The silver dollar rolls came “from one of the
Reno gaming families. Rudolph A.G. Semenza collected these as a vault
manager of a Reno casino in the late 1950s and early 1960s,” according
to the catalog.
Two of the nine lots “have the original metal
boxes these coins were stored in, the way it was done in Nevada
casinos in the 1960s,” according to the catalog.
Five silver ingots will appear in the auction.
One of those is a new discovery silver ingot from Pioche, Nev.,
engraved E. BOOTH NY FROM F.L. CORWIN, will also be offered at auction.
The circa 1871 ingot also has engraved, on the
two ends, the location of the silver mine that produced the silver for
The ingot measures 1.57 inches long, 0.6 inch
wide and 0.6 inch thick. Although four of its six sides are engraved,
none of the engravings contain information about the weight or
fineness. It weighs 4.28 troy ounces, according to the Holabird-Kagin
auction catalog description.
The 1870 census lists Frederick L. Corwin as
an agent for an unnamed express company in Hamilton, Nev.
“Express agents in the Pioche/Treasure
City/Hamilton region were taking on a risky job. Their mining camps
were far from any other civilization ... [and thus] they were greatly
isolated. As such, stage robberies were a constant, and any [express
company stage] agent had to be careful of the many bullion shipments
leaving daily. At times there were reported as many as ten stages a
day entering or leaving Pioche or Hamilton,” according to the catalog.
Booth’s name is ornately engraved inside two
hearts. The catalog description speculates that Corwin met Booth (a
woman) as a passenger on the stagecoach.
The auction will also offer a heavily engraved
unique 470.5-ounce silver ingot dated August 1892 that was designed as
a presentation piece.
The ingot was presented during the Knights
Templar 25th Triennial Conclave in Denver, Colorado.
The ingot is engraved PRESENTED TO ST. BERNARD
COMMANDERY NO. 35 CHICAGO FOR EFFICIENCY IN EXHIBITION DRILL followed
by DENVER, AUGUST 10TH 1892.
This silver ingot also bears an engraving of
the Mount of Holy Cross in Colorado. Engraved on one end is a Maltese
Cross, which is the emblem of the Knights Templar.
The other end is engraved CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
COMMITTEE, followed by the names of the members of the committee
presenting the ingot.
For more information about the more than 1,500
lots to be offered, call the Reno, Nev., auction house toll-free at
877-852-8822 or visit www.holabirdamericana.com
to view the lots.