“Last Stand” Note on Cigarette Paper, Signed Wm. Bonney


Written in pencil, on a small cigarette paper, signed Wm. Bonney. Said to have been discovered in a shell case in the Florida Mountains of Southwest New Mexico. Single-sided. 2 7/8" x 1 1/2". (Shown actual size.)

It reads: “This is our last shell and about 10 Indians left so our chances look slim But we are going to take a chance yours truly / Wm Bonney”.

Ex: Maurice G. Fulton Collection

From the Robert G. McCubbin Collection

Includes a letter dated August 2, 1952, from Maurice G. Fulton to Robert A. Mullins that mentions the cigarette paper. Both Fulton and Mullins were well-respected, 20th century historians, authors and collectors of the American Southwest, and particularly the Lincoln County War.

Robert McCubbin: “This is one of those ‘too good to be true’ things that makes one very skeptical. However, the signature and handwriting stands up well when compared to the Tascosa receipt from WH Bonney to Henry Hoyt, especially considering the thin cigarette paper it is on and the conditions under which it was written (under an Indian attack!) Fulton, from whom this came to me after his death, wrote in a letter, “if the note was planted by a modern boy, he would have unquestionably signed it ‘Billy the Kid’…” It is also not likely anyone faking and hiding it would have gone to the trouble to try to duplicate an authentic signature. The fact that Fulton, a reliable historian, seemed to think it the real thing has significance. Anyway, I find it to be an interesting item.”

Note: This lot has no estimate.

We cannot certify that this item is authentically a note from William H. Bonney, and therefore do not know what the estimate should be. It seems that Maurice Fulton felt it was authentic. Bob McCubbin finds it persuasive. We find it to be an interesting historic artifact regardless, but are simply unwilling to commit without more provenance. Therefore, you’ll just have to decide for yourself.

Lot 712, Brian Lebel's Old West Auction - January 25-26, 2019. Mesa, AZ.
Sold $3,025.

The Billy the Kid Knife


The knife that Billy the Kid was holding when he was shot by Pat Garrett in Pete Maxwell’s house on July 14, 1881. The knife, as it was not a weapon, was never taken by the authorities (though it was noted in numerous accounts). Retrieved by Paulita Maxwell, it descended through the Maxwell-Jamarillo family for over a century.

DESCRIPTION (as if it matters!): Standard Green River skinning or butcher knife with a well-worn, full-length blade, 5 1/2" exposed and 9 3/4" overall. The handle is 3-rivet style, with wood slabs or scales. The handle shows heavy wear and is 3/4" thick. No visible markings or hallmarks.

PROVENANCE: Paulita Maxwell Jaramillo to her daughter Adelina Jaramillo Welborn, to her daughter Ollie Swanson, to her daughter Susan Swanson Wortham, to Frederick Nolan to Robert McCubbin.

Included with the lot:

• Handwritten testimony signed by Deluvina Maxwell and Adelina J. Welborn, March 20, 1926.

• Transcribed (typed) account by Deluvina Maxwell to J. Evetts Haley, June 24, 1927.

• Affidavit of Ursula Pacheco Y. Baca, August 10, 1951.

• Affidavit of Carndido Gutierres, September 19, 1951.

• Book: “Genealogical and Historical Data of the Jaramillo Family: Almost Four Centuries in New Mexico 1598-1989” by Pauline Jaramillo.

• Original correspondence between Frederick Nolan and Pauline Jaramillo, and Nolan and Robert Swanson, beginning in 1990, detailing Nolan first locating and then negotiating for the purchase of the knife.

• FedEx label from Susan Wortham to Frederick Nolan for an “Antique Knife.”

• Affidavit of Robert S. Swanson, July 13, 1997 upon the sale of the knife to Frederick Nolan, with accompanying original, signed photographs identifying the knife.

• Bob McCubbin’s personal ephemera and memorabilia regarding the knife, including photographs from the day he took ownership of the artifact from Frederick Nolan in Tombstone, Arizona, September 25, 1999.

"At that moment a man sprang quickly into the door, looking back, and called twice in Spanish, “Who comes there?” No one replied and he came on in. He was bareheaded. From his step I could perceive he was either barefooted or in his stocking feet, and held a revolver in his right hand and a butcher knife in his left.”

-- From "An Authentic Life of Billy the Kid the Noted Desperado of the Southwest," by Pat F. Garrett, 1882.

“The night he was killed Billy came in hungry, went down with a butcher knife to get some meat at Pete Maxwell’s. He told the people he was going down to get the meat and took a knife and went down to Pete's room. After passing the men waiting outside, he went into Maxwell’s room where Garrett was and he shot him.”

-- From Deluvina Maxwell’s oral account, June 24, 1927.

“We there saw a man lying stretched out upon his back dead in the middle of the room, with a six-shooter lying at his right hand and a butcher knife at the left.”

-- From “The True Story of the Death of ‘Billy the Kid’ Notorious New Mexico Outlaw,” by John W. Poe, 1919.

Lot 640, Brian Lebel's Old West Auction - January 25-26, 2019. Mesa, AZ.
Sold $118,000.

Original Tin Sign from the Infamous Lincoln Saloon.


This original hand painted outdoor tin sign, complete with side panels and peak, is from the Lincoln Saloon, circa 1881. Directly from the dusty streets of Lincoln, the sign hung outside the Lincoln Saloon, located directly across the street from the Courthouse where Billy the Kid shot and killed Pat Garrett's deputies, James Bel and Robert Ollinger, while escaping from jail. 

Shown in numerous photos taken in the 1880s and over the years, the sign stood sentry over all manner of Wild West escapades. In apparent un-restored condition. Comprised of 7 separate pieces, the “Lincoln Saloon” painted portion measures 25” tall, and 96” long including the side panels; the peak and embossed lower panel, combined with the rest, measure just over 22 feet wide (267”) by 9 feet tall. A well-preserved and historic piece of Old West architecture and history, it is a classic example of, “if this thing could talk…”

Lot 23, Brian Lebel's Old West Auction - June 23rd, 2018, Santa Fe, NM.
Sold $12,980