Shotgun Wyatt Earp used to avenge brother's death offered at Heritage Auctions

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Shotgun Wyatt Earp used to avenge brother's death offered at Heritage Auctions
Wyatt Earp: An Amazingly Documented 10-Gauge Shotgun Used by Him to Kill "Curly Bill" Brocius. Imaged by Heritage Auctions.

DALLAS, TX.- The gun Wyatt Earp used to kill “Curly Bill” Brocius could bring $100,000 or more in Heritage Auctions’ Americana & Political Auction Feb. 22-23 in Dallas, Texas.

The Wyatt Earp: An Amazingly Documented 10-Gauge Shotgun Used by Him to Kill "Curly Bill" Brocius is a museum-quality piece, arguably the most important Earp gun in existence.

Earp was a lawman and gambler in the Arizona Territory in the late 1800s and early 1900s whose résumé includes stints as a professional gambler, teamster and buffalo hunter, and perhaps most famously, taking part in the infamous shootout at the O.K. Corral in 1881. Brocius was a notorious gunman, rustler and outlaw credited with a litany of crimes, including cattle rustling, stagecoach robberies and killings, and had a history of run-ins with members of the Earp family.

“Wyatt Earp’s brother, Morgan, was brutally killed, and Curly Bill Brocius was identified as one of those involved,” Heritage Auctions Americana Director Tom Slater said. “Earp once pistol-whipped Curly Bill Brocius for fatally shooting a popular Tombstone town marshal named Fred White, and when he learned of his brother’s death, he formed a posse that was later called the ‘Earp Vendetta Ride.’

“When they went out to hunt for Brocius, Earp borrowed a 10-gauge shotgun – this shotgun – from his friend, Fred Dodge. They found Curly Bill at Iron Springs on March 24, 1882, and in the ensuing shootout, Earp used this shotgun to kill Curly Bill … after which, he returned it to Fred Dodge.”

The weapon heads to auction with stellar provenance. When Dodge died in 1938, it was among many items that were passed down to his son, Fred Dodge, Jr., who then sold the weapon in 1963 (in a transaction from which the bill of sale can be seen on When dealer Greg Martin sold the gun after purchasing it in 1984, he wrote "The Stevens double-barreled shotgun serial number 927 you recently obtained from me represents one of the most important historical treasures I have ever owned...In my opinion the great historical associations, the first-hand accounts, and the impeccable documentation of ownership through the Dodge family make your Stevens shotgun one of the great treasures of the Old West. It is a direct link between Wyatt Earp and an era of American lore that is of incalculable importance."

The gun is accompanied in the auction by a photostat of the 1963 bill of sale from the younger Dodge, Martin’s letter and a letter from Jim Earle, a renowned collector who owned it in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Also included is an impressive archive of more than 25 original documents relating to its provenance.

Heritage Auctions has offered numerous relics and artifacts from the Old West, but this shotgun, which remains in very good condition, is widely viewed as the best – and the one in highest demand – yet. Bearing serial number 927 on the barrels, fore-end, triggerguard and receiver, the 10-gauge weapon includes 22-1/4-inch barrels with a fixed front bead sight. The top of the barrels is marked “J. STEVENS & CO. CHICOPEE FALLS MASS.”

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