RENO, Nev. – A bronze cowboy sculpture on horseback by California sculptress Betty Saletta sold for $5,000, a 25-cent War Eagle slot machine from the 1930s fetched $2,875, and a mint condition A.B. Stewart & Co. (Virginia City, Nev) drug store bottle dated 1877 made $2,250 at Holabird Western Americana Collections, LLC’s auction held on January 20th and 21st.
It was the first big auction event of the New Year for Holabird Western Americana Collections, LLC. Nearly 1,500 lots representing many collecting categories tell the story of this sale. It was held online and in the firm's Reno gallery, at 3555 Airway Drive. “We had our largest online live audience ever,” said owner Fred Holabird, who called the sale “a huge success.”
Phone and absentee bids were also taken.
Cowboy Sculpture Leads Bronze Selection
The Saturday, January 20th session showcased mining and minerals, art, foreign items, Native Americana and general Americana. The Sunday, January 21st auction was packed with cowboy items, firearms and weaponry, militaria, gaming and tokens. In addition, numismatics (coins), tokens, bottles, saloon, and railroadiana drew bidder interest. Plus, Wells Fargo, World’s Fair and Expositions, bargains and dealer specials, were plentiful.
The Betty Saletta sculpture, titled Yesterday is Tomorrow, was beautifully mounted and in excellent condition. Standing 31 inches tall, it was artist signed and dated 1990. Furthermore, another bronze creation – a high-quality reproduction of the famous sculpture Stagecoach by Charles Marion Russell (Am., 1864-1926), brought $2,500. The sculpture, on greenstone, stood 20 inches tall.
The War Eagle slot machine – a classic one-armed bandit design brought $2,875. Popular with collectors the unit boasts all original wood sides and base, and a professionally repainting treatment. In addition, a top lot of the tokens category was an 1898 Omaha Trans Mississippi Exposition example. With “1848” on the reverse, it is in uncirculated condition and gold-plated. The unlisted variety token finished at $344.
Purple Drug Store Bottle Attracts Fans
Vintage and antique bottles are enormously popular with collectors, and this auction had some beauties, including the aforementioned A.B. Stewart drug store bottle, light purple in color and one of the rarest of all the Virginia City bottles; and a circa 1890-1892 Lemaire soda bottle (Battle Mountain, Nev.), very rare, aqua in color and tooled to Hutchinson style soda ($1,750).
Following are additional highlights from the auction. Internet bidding was provided by the platforms iCollector.com, Invaluable.com, eBay Live and Auctionzip.com. All prices quoted include the buyer’s premium.
Mining collectibles are a genre of collectible that’s on the rise, and Holabird has capitalized on the trend. This sale featured fascinating 19th century photographs, including one photograph that shows nine miners and one child posing outside a mine shaft in Virginia City, Nev. ($1,125); and one of the Hale & Norcross mine in Virginia City ($1,000). They appear on mounts and date to 1885.
Mining Stock Certificates Stand Out
Other star lots from the category included a McClellan Gold Mining Company stock certificate (Comstock, Nevada Territory), one of the very earliest Nevada territorial stock certificates, dated 1863 and in excellent condition ($688); and a group of 23 early Arizona topo maps, mostly from mining regions, 80 percent pre-1920 and many from the first survey period of 1895-1912 ($531).
Railroadiana featured a stock certificate from Virginia & Truckee Railroad in the amount of 500 shares, issued to W. C. Ralston (one of the driving forces behind the Bank of California on the Comstock), signed on the back by him and dated June 21, 1869 ($1,125). Furthermore, a rare Montana & Southern Company railroad pass, issued in 1919 and signed by General Manager Allen ($312).
Numismatics and paper currency was highlighted by a collection of Washington quarter coins, with the main collection housed in an album and missing only the 1932-D, 1938 and 1940 dates, plus many duplicates in a backup box ($1,125). In addition, a group of 223 pre-1965 U.S. $1 silver certificate bills, 10 of them either uncirculated or almost uncirculated, the rest circulated ($375).
Tonalism Present in Fine Art Offerings
Native American artifacts were led by a gorgeous Buckskin Plains Indian beaded pipe bag, with a
beaded warrior on horseback motif on one side and a twin deer design on the reverse ($875); a corn husk and yarn bag woven by the noted Nez Pierce artist Viola Morris, new and never used ($594); and a vintage Hopi vase (or seed pot), old and well-used, with chips and fading ($625).
Original artwork featured a framed oil painting titled The Forest by William Keith (1838-1911), a Scottish-American painter famous for his California landscapes and associated with Tonalism and the American Barbizon School ($1,250). In addition, an oil on board rendering of snow-covered mountains and trees and a river by Leonard Lopp (Am., 1888-1974), framed, dated 1938 ($875).
A group of 58 pay vouchers for Wisconsin Civil War soldiers killed in battle, most of them marked “Paid” in 1864, for money owed to the soldiers from 1862, with the money going to family members and spouses of the deceased, garnered $562. Also, a two-page handwritten diary of a scout who was performing in the Buffalo Bill Wild West show, dated Jan. 1, 1874, hit $469.
Advertising Makes an Appearance
In addition, a rare and unusual scrimshaw cup, made from a carved antique horn around 1802 and depicting 18th century British officers in a formation watching a nude solider tied to a cannon carriage while being whipped by three black slaves, signed by artist “N. Spillman”, rose to $1,312. Furthermore, a World War II Marine Corps framed sword and scabbard, the sword 36 inches long, made $687.
A tin advertising sign for Al Furstnow Saddlery – “The Saddle That Made Miles City (Mont.) Famous” – 14 inches by 20 inches, not a copy, breezed to $625. In addition, a Triassic Keichousaurus hui reptile fossil discovered embedded into black shale in Guizhou, China, 6 inches by 11 inches, brought $812. In conclusion, the 200 million-year-old species of reptile was just discovered in 1958, in China.
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