8,000-lot Harrisburg Collection selling without reserve July 15-21

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Beginning July 15 at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s City Island, Guernsey’s will be holding an unreserved seven-day auction (July 15-21) of the legendary Harrisburg Collection that has been so enmeshed with that City’s current state of affairs. Proceeds from this event will be used to aid the financially-ailing state capital.

For years, news articles have discussed the circumstances surrounding the Harrisburg Collection: an early mayor envisioned Harrisburg as a city filled with museums. He reasoned that not only would such a place be culturally stimulating, but it would also bring

Starr Revolver # 27613, having belonged To Bill Chadwell, Bank Robber, James Gang. On September 7, 1876, the Jesse James / Younger gang failed an attempt to rob the First National Bank of Minnesota at Northfield. The first gang member to be shot dead in the street was William Chadwell. His pistol was taken and given to Mr. Phillips, President of the bank. It was shown in his office as a reminder of the consequences of robbery and the gun is in mint condition, it is expected to sell for $8,000 to $12,000. (Photo courtesy Guernsey's)

Starr Revolver # 27613, having belonged To Bill Chadwell, Bank Robber, James Gang. On September 7, 1876, the Jesse James / Younger gang failed an attempt to rob the First National Bank of Minnesota at Northfield. The first gang member to be shot dead in the street was William Chadwell. His pistol was taken and given to Mr. Phillips, President of the bank. It was shown in his office as a reminder of the consequences of robbery and the gun is in mint condition, it is expected to sell for $8,000 to $12,000. (Photo courtesy Guernsey’s)

a massive number of tourists to a city that already was experiencing financial woes. Although there are varying opinions as to the manner in which the mayor executed his plan, the bottom line is that he spent millions of dollars of public money to acquire historic artifacts to fill the museums he expected would be built. The National Civil War Museum stands as a testament to his efforts.

On the other hand, the other museums that were planned never came to be, and the thousands of items he acquired to fill those exhibition halls languished for years in Harrisburg’s storage facilities. In July, the massive, 8,000-item collection will be sold without reserve.

A strong percentage of the items relate to the Old West. Harrisburg held a museum focused on the Old West because pioneers and settlers heading out in directions largely unknown considered Harrisburg, Pa., to be the starting point: the “Gateway to the West.” The portions of the collection that cover the Old West feature rarities relating to such historic figures as Wyatt Earp, Annie Oakley, Jesse James, Wild Bill Hickok and Doc Holliday. American Indian tribes that are represented include Sioux, Cheyenne, Apache, Northern Plains, Blackfoot, Navajo, Comanche and others, along with special collections relating to the Little Big Horn and an important grouping of tomahawks.

There are more than 500 historic, vintage firearms including Springfield, Winchester, Smith & Wesson, Remington, Colt, Pruitt Bros., St. Louis, James Brown & Sons and Hopkins & Allen.

Some of the other auction categories include the Revolutionary War, Civil War and Indian

Tularosa Pottery, black on White basketweave design, carries a presale estimate of $4,000 to $6,000, 12 1/2" h. (Photo courtesy Guernsey's)

Tularosa Pottery Olla, black on White basketweave design, carries a presale estimate of $4,000 to $6,000, 12 1/2″ h. (Photo courtesy Guernsey’s)

Wars; maritime artifacts; Spanish Colonial artifacts; Western furniture and art; a Wells Fargo collection; early games and gambling devices; and hundreds of examples of ephemera including hand-written documents, early maps, photographs and printed material.

Each of the first six days of the auction (July 15-20) will be devoted to specific categories. The seventh day of the auction (Sunday, July 21) will be a less structured day, where a wide variety of lots will be offered only to those attending the event in person (there will be no Internet bidding on that day). The auction will start each morning at 10 a.m. For additional information, contact 212-794-2280 or auctions@guernseys.com, or visit www.guernseys.com.

 

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