RENO, Nev. – An 1862 Abraham Lincoln silver Peace Medal in About Uncirculated condition sold for $18,750, an original 1865 tintype of George Armstrong Custer from a photograph taken by the iconic Civil War-era photographer Matthew Brady rang up $5,750, and three scarce and historically significant ingots (two silver, one gold) brought a combined $86,792 in a five-day Sweetheart Express Auction held Feb. 11th-15th by Holabird Western Americana Collections.
The auction was held online and live in the Holabird gallery located at 3555 Airway Drive in Reno. The sale was bursting with nearly 4,000 lots in a wide array of collecting categories. “We broke nearly every record anybody’s ever heard about for a multiple consignor Americana sale,” said company president Fred Holabird. “We enjoyed a nearly 90 percent sell-through average.”
The auction was titled The Sweetheart Express because it was loaded with sweet deals right around Valentine’s Day and contained thousands of great gift ideas. The sale was headlined by two major collections: the Gary Nelson collection of railroadiana and the Stewart MacKenzie collection of Montana mining. Both attracted great interest as bidders added to their collections.
The Lincoln silver Peace medal dated 1862 was one of just 200 made at the Philadelphia mint, 100 each in two sizes (the one in the sale was the smaller size, 62.5 mm). The reverse showed that the medal was an Osage Indian Award. The Peace medals were given to tribal Chiefs, or sometimes to Indians involved in friendly treaties by the various regional superintendencies.
A collection of 42 original folio lithographs drawn by artist David Roberts (1796-1864) during his visits to the Holy Land in 1838-1839 was from a catalog that was published in two forms: as a book titled The Holy Land, Syria, Ideuma, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia: From Drawings Made on the Spot, and as folios, which he sold on a subscription basis. The collection sold for $18,125.
The three ingots attracted attention because they were gold and silver and for their historical significance. They were as follows:
- Vulture Mine gold ingot ($37,355) – an important discovery from the Vulture Gold Mine near Wickenburg, Arizona, circa 1911-1914, one of two ingots that were sold from an old Arizona family to an Arizona coin dealer in 2020. This was the larger one (423.04 grams)
- S. Assay Office (San Francisco) silver ingot, 1016.70 troy ounces and weighing about 60 pounds. This was a rarity, as most of the U.S. Mint of Assay office bars were usually smaller. The ingot, from the 1940s, was held by the same family since its initial pour.
- Leadville (Colo.) presentation silver ingot ($15,062), inscribed, “From Geo. W. Cook to Col. J. J. Slocum Leadville Col June 1881 965 fine”, about 23 troy ounces, 3 ½ inches in length. Cook was the one-time mayor of Leadville and later a wealthy railroad financier.
Day 1 featured general Americana (jewelry, marbles and toys and geographic sort), bottles and saloon collectibles (including brewing items and drug ephemera), mining collectibles and Part 1 of stocks and bonds (to include mining paper). Featured were stocks and bonds (especially oil stocks) from Ken Prag’s sizable collection of U.S. businesses other than mining and railroad.
Gold Rush and Western mining collectibles included a gorgeous gold quartz watch chain, 14 inches long, with six rectangular sections of one-inch-each California gold quartz ($9,062); and a James Marshall autographed card ("The Discoverer of Gold in California January 19th, 1848", signed Jas. W. Marshall"), with a vignette of Sutter’s Mill and a photo of Marshall ($2,250).
A custom album containing 31 photographs of mining in Nome, Alaska from 1900-1902, all taken by photographer Otto Daniel Goetze, plus a small male portrait (possibly of Goetze) sold for $3,125. Also, a classic California Gold Rush pocket scale in a black case with gold letters, the small scale itself made of brass and in extremely fine or better condition, brought $1,250.
A California Mining Association brass lapel pin showing a pick and shovel with a grizzly bear and labeled “California Mining Association”, suspended by a chain, possibly from the 1800s, realized $1,125. Also, a classic ceramic liquor jug (“J.J. Carollo Liquor Dealer Diamondville, Wyoming”), 9 inches tall and 6 inches in diameter, with a small chip, changed hands for $1,937.
Day 2 contained Part II of stocks and bonds (oil, railroad, transportation, agriculture, banking, brewing and industrial), as well as firearms, military and political collectibles. The firearms and military section featured the tintype of Custer, housed in a non-political case, 3 ¼ inches by 3 ½ inches. Matthew Brady took dozens of photos of Custer in various poses that day in May 1865.
Stocks were led by a certificate from 1870 for the New York and Pennsylvania Blue Stone Co., noteworthy because it was signed by company president James Fisk, one of the fabled “Robber Barons” who ran New York in the mid-1800s ($10,937); and an 1883 certificate for Petersen’s American Aerial Navigation company, very rare and with an amazing airship vignette ($1,875).
An 1893 stock certificate for the Yellowstone National Park Transportation Company with a nice pictorial of Old Faithful, signed by company president and famed Montana entrepreneur Harry W. Child, fetched $750. Also, an original photograph from around 1885, showing a stage coach and driver, taken at Fort Grant in the Arizona Territory by Daniel A. Markey, went for $1,312.
Day 3 featured railroadiana and transportation, numismatics, tokens and sports. In addition to the Lincoln silver Peace Medal and three choice ingots, the session also featured a brass Southern Railroad Engine bell, 12 inches in diameter, circa 1920s, mounted on a wood base ($2,250); and a Lionel #773 locomotive 4-6-4 and tender, O scale, both like new, circa 1957-1960 ($1,750).
Day 4, Valentine’s Day, featured art, Native Americana (to include a collection of 19th century photos and documents, including photos of Apache leaders such as Geronimo and two Apache Scout Medal of Honors winners), philatelic and the Albert Cauchon sculptures collection, featuring over 1,000 Chilmark pewter statues by artists such as Don Polland and Michael Boyett.
An original 1883 "Wanted" handbill/poster with a $1600 reward for the "Arrest Stage Robber" offered by Sheriff A. J. Doran, Florence (Arizona Territory), and a handwritten letter by Sheriff R.H. Paul from his Tucson office, earned $4,875. Also, a group of four cabinet cards and one stereo card, all depicting the legendary Apache Indian Chief Geronimo, commanded $3,000.
Internet bidding was provided by iCollector.com, LiveAuctioneers.com, Invaluable.com and Auctionzip.com. Telephone and absentee bids were also accepted. The full catalog could be viewed online, at www.HolabirdAmericana.com. For those attending the auction in person, all state and CDC regulations and protocols regarding the COVID-19 virus were strictly enforced.
Holabird Western Americana Collections is always in the hunt for new and major collections to bring to market. It prides itself as being a major source for selling Americana at the best prices obtainable, having sold more than any other similar company in the past decade alone. The firm will have its entire sales database online soon, at no cost – nearly 200,00 lots sold since 2014.
Holabird Western Americana Collections
3555 Airway Drive