Rare early 12-cent U.S. postage stamp brings $19,520 at Holabird's Wild West Auction
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Rare early 12-cent U.S. postage stamp brings $19,520 at Holabird's Wild West Auction
Extremely rare early U.S. 12-cent postage stamp with a portrait bust of George Washington, graded in Fine/Very Fine condition, despite a little dirt and some crinkle ($19,520).

RENO, NEV.- An extremely rare early U.S. 12-cent postage stamp with a portrait bust of George Washington sold for $19,520 and the 1860 U.S. Army Colt revolver with a Richards conversion that once belonged to legendary lawman and gunfighter Elfego Baca (1865-1945) hit the mark for $13,750 at Holabird Western Americana Collections’ Wild West Auction held July 21st-24th.

The auction, which was a huge success by any measure and saw new record prices established in numerous collecting categories, was held online and live at Holabird’s gallery in Reno. It was headlined by the collections of Gary Bracken, who collected in a staggering 60-plus categories; and James and Barbara Sherman, whose huge collections were housed in a museum in Tucson.

Hundreds of collectible items – 2,441 lots in all – came up for bid, at price points that appealed to seasoned collectors and novices alike. Internet bidding was facilitated by iCollector.com, LiveAuctioneers.com, Invaluable.com and Auctionzip.com. Phone and left bids were also taken.

The 12-cent stamp was from the Gary Bracken collection. Industry expert David Bowers said of the stamp in 1989, “The 12-cent value is an extreme rarity in the series. Only two specimens can be accounted for presently. It was unknown to specialists until 1939.” The cased stamp was the sale’s top earner. It was graded in Fine/Very Fine condition, despite a little dirt and some crinkle.

The Elfego Baca revolver came out of the James and Barbara Sherman museum collection. The gun was accompanied by a hardcover first-edition copy of the book Law and Order Ltd. The Rousing Life of Elfego Baca by Kyle S. Crichton (1928), autographed by the author and by Baca, whose life as a famous lawman in New Mexico was depicted in a Disney mini-series in 1959-60.

Following are additional highlights from the auction. All prices include the buyer’s premium.

Day 1 of the auction, on Thursday, July 21st, featured 480 lots of philatelic items (to include postcards and postal history, featuring items from the Bracken collection and a collection out of Elcano, Nevada); Express; and stocks and bonds. Over 600 lots came up for bid on the first day.

Day 1 highlights included a rare 1860 manuscript out of the short-lived Monoville (Nev.) mining camp, one of only two examples known, with a Utah Territory postmark and stamped “Paid 10c” and “DUE 10” ($7,187); and a Leavenworth City and Pikes Peak Express cover, stamped June 30, 1869 and addressed to Denver City, Kansas Territory ($1,625). Leavenworth City & Pikes Peak Express Co. was the first express service between Denver City and Leavenworth City.

Day 2, July 22nd, contained art, transportation collectibles (including railroad and steamer passes, ephemera and artifacts); and general Americana (including geographic sort, general store and miscellaneous categories). In all, 625 lots crossed the auction block on Day 2. A highlight lot was the Florence & Cripple Creek (Colo.) railroad lantern made by Adlake (latest patent date 1913), featuring an open wire metal basket, a clear globe with “F & CC RR” embossed ($2,625).

Day 3, on Saturday, July 23rd, was perhaps the auction’s busiest day. Both the 12-cent stamp and the Elfego Baca revolver were sold on Day 3, which featured numismatic offerings (including currency and scrip, and U.S., ancient and foreign coins – plus medals, badges and exonumia); and tokens, featuring Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Oklahoma – in all, 622 lots.

Coin collections housed in Dansco #7000 albums were a hit with collectors. A few examples were as follows:

• A Coins of England album covering 1,000 years of English history, from Eanred to Victoria, including four coppers, 83 silvers and a gold guinea of George III ($8,435). All were identified and included many half crowns, shillings and dozens of hammered coins.

• A Greek Coinage album featuring coins of Macedonia, Thrace, Phoenicia, Egypt and Judaea – 65 coins in all, including 42 bronze and 23 silver, including 7 tetradrachms of Philip II, Alexander the Great with four minors, Ptolemy II and VI, mostly fine ($7,830).

• An Islamic Coin album containing an ancient collection of 101 Islamic coins, mostly silver but also featuring 40 copper and three gold (Suleiman the Magnificent, Mahmud I and Mahmud II). 23 of the silver coins were 703 AD to 18th century Ottoman ($4,940).

A large, newly discovered (and exceedingly rare) First National Bank of Foraker (Okla.) $10 bank note from the early 1900s, graded a solid VF and boasting wonderful embossing and color, changed hands for $4,458. Also, a group of five early Colonial U.S. copper coins, including a St. Patrick “farthing” (G-VG); a 1724 Hibernia half penny (VF-F); a 1785 Nova Constellatio (G-VG); a 1787 New Jersey coin (G-VG) and a 1788 Massachusetts half cent (G-VG) ($2,530).

A lot of two gold coins from the U.S. Mint in Charlotte, N.C., both bearing the “C” mint mark: an 1850-C $1 gold coin graded VF-EF condition; and an 1851-C $2 ½ gold coin, graded F-VF ($3,374). Also, a lot of six Byzantine gold coins, including coins from the reigns of Anastasius (AD 491-518), graded VG-F; Anastasius Semissis, VG-F; Anastasius Tremissis, VG-F; Justin I (18-527 AD), VG-F; Heraclius (616-625), EF; and Constantine IV (668-685), VG-F ($4,699).

A very rare octagonal token from the Rhyolite (Nev.) saloon (“The Payteller / 12 ½ c / Rhyolite, Nev.”), 30 mm in diameter, with a graphic of a bearded miner with a pick, shovel and lunch bucket, plus a mountain and rising sun, fetched $2,750; while an equally scarce Keg Saloon territorial token (“Keg / Saloon /Tombstone / Arizona Territory (A.T.) / Good For / 1 / Drink”), round in shape, brown in color and 25 mm in diameter, went to a determined bidder for $1,830.

A lot of 46 Republican denarii coins dating from 147 BC to 46 BC – 44 of them different and all identified, in fine or better condition (two very good) and featuring a variety of Roma/chariot examples, finished at $7,230. Also, Gary Bracken’s major Colorado dog tag collection – with 91 different towns and about 356 pieces – with a concentration on pre-1930s tags, rang up $4,250.

The auction’s final day, on Sunday, July 24th, featured Native Americana; cowboy and Wild West; minerals and mining; sports; bottles (highlighted by Colorado and Oklahoma); and saloon, tobacciana and gaming. Day 4 had 583 lots; the auction overall had a grand total of 2,441 lots.

A circa 1888-1889 Montag Buena Vista hutch soda bottle, deep amber in color and 6 ½ inches tall, with a misspell (“G. A. Montag / Buenna (sic) Vista / Colo.”), appearing to be flawless but with an expertly replaced top, fetched $3,375; while an Endlich & Good squat-shaped beer bottle, circa 1861-1864, very light aqua in color, an early territorial soda with a bit of a drippy top (“Endlich & Good / Denver City / C T 6”), with some bubbling around the base, hit $7,187.

A wooden box with a paper end label made for The M. Werk Co. Stearic Acid Candles, with “M Werk & Co” stenciled on both long ends, 8 ½ inches by 11 ¾ inches by 18 inches, finished at $3,625. Also, a group of three late 19th/early 20th century hutch bottles from Ouray, Colorado, a town named after the Ute Chief Ouray – one for N. Naylon, aqua in color; and two for the San Juan Bottling Works, one aqua in color and the other bottle clear – found a new home for $3,125.

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