Collectors of Old West and its outlaws, arms and armor, and history will line up to take aim at a gun cartridge belt once owned by one of the nation's most infamous outlaws when it crosses the block in Heritage Auctions
' Arms & Armor, Civil War & Militaria Signature Auction Dec. 12.
This belt (estimate: $15,000-25,000) was well used by the legendary Jesse James, and it once belonged to Wilbur Zink, who spent the majority of his life collecting Western art and Missouri outlaw memorabilia; in 2008, Wilbur was awarded the Western Outlaw-Lawman Association Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the preservation of the history of the Wild West. Zink obtained it from Harry Hoffman, a lifelong friend and associate of Jesse James, Jr., and considered it one of his most prized possessions. Hoffman's lifelong collection included only a carefully curated 31 items, one of which was this belt. The lot comes with Hoffman's notarized affidavit given to fellow Missouri collector Frank Foster, who sold his collection in the late 1970s.
"Jesse James items are always scarce and seldom come up for auction with great provenance, so when we were contacted to offer this belt, we knew the history and were excited to be part of it again," Heritage Auctions Arms & Armor Consignment Director David Carde said. "It is believed to be one of only two that were owned by Jesse James in 1882, the year of his death."
The belt is known to be one of only two James had when he died by a bullet from a gun belonging to Robert Ford in 1882.
"The rarity of Jesse James items makes this a coveted and important lot," Carde said. "With lots like this, it is important to determine how closely they are associated with important figures, and specifically the extent to which the item is involved with what made those people significant. This belt meets both criteria, and it is difficult to imagine anything that reaches those standards any better."
Other top lots in the sale include, but are not limited to:
A Presentation Grade Confederate Leech and Rigdon Confederate Staff Officer's Sword and Scabbard (estimate: $15,000+)
A Magnificent and Rare Regulation Civil War Cavalry Regimental Flag (estimate: $10,000+)
A British Union Flag from the American Revolutionary Period (estimate: $10,000+)
A Cased & Engraved John Rigby & Co. Double Barrel Shotgun (estimate: $10,000+)
A Richmond CS Type II Percussion Musket (estimate: $10,000+)
A Cased US Martially Inspected Colt Model 1860 Army Revolver with John Babcock and W.F. Cody Association (estimate: $10,000+)
A Civil War-Era Hernstein & Son Field Amputation Kit (estimate: $3,000+)