The Robert G. McCubbin Collection

Historic Photographs & Artifacts of the Old West
To be sold at auction: January 25-26, 2019 - Mesa, AZ

The Robert G. McCubbin Collection consists of over 1,500 pieces of original photography, artifacts and ephemera from the American West, circa 1840-1920. It is among the most extensive and important  collections of early Western American photographs and documents in private hands, and is the first to come available in its entirety at public auction.

Auction Friday, January 25, 2019

The PHOTOGRAPHY portion of the McCubbin collection will be auctioned at a special Friday night sale as part of the Mesa Old West Show & Auction weekend event. Nearly 900 original pieces of photography will cross the block, including stereoviews, tintypes, CDVs, cabinet cards, and photographs, with many rare and historic examples. Pieces will be sold both individually and in lots. A once in a lifetime sale!

Friday, January 25, 2019
Time:  5:00 pm
Preview: Thursday 12-5 / Friday 9-4:30
Free and open to the public.

All auctions held at the Phoenix Marriott Mesa
200 N Centennial Way, Mesa, AZ 85201

Auction Saturday, January 26, 2019

It was inevitable that Bob McCubbin would acquire some Old West ARTIFACTS in his collecting endeavors. Bob understands the value of provenance, and whenever possible, collected material from the families of the subjects at hand: Pat Garrett, Paulita Maxwell, the Dolans. Highlights of his artifact collection include the knife that Billy the Kid held while he lay dying; the ice mallet that killed Ben Kilpatrick in the famous failed train robbery; Rose of Cimarron's rifle, and Wild Bill Hickok's straight razor.  

The McCubbin artifacts will be auctioned during the 29th annual Mesa Old West Auction.

Saturday, January 26, 2019
Time:  5:00 pm
Preview: Thurs 12-5 / Fri 9-4:30 / Sat 9-4:30

Auction Saturday, January 26, 2019

There are more than 600 pieces of EPHEMERA in McCubbin's collection, totaling over 1,000 pages of documents, calling cards, ledgers and the like. Historic warrants, deeds and letters abound in the collection, which includes a single page from a bookkeeping ledger of the famed Wigwam Saloon. It's John Wesley Hardin's running bar bill, signed in numerous places by Hardin, with the final entry dated August 19, 1895, the day Hardin was shot dead in the nearby Acme Saloon. 

The McCubbin ephemera will be auctioned during the 29th annual Mesa Old West Auction.

Saturday, January 26, 2019
Time:  5:00 pm
Preview: Thurs 12-5 / Fri 9-4:30 / Sat 9-4:30

Robert McCubbin: How I Got Started:


“My interest in outlaws started when I was growing up in Stillwater, Oklahoma: There had been a big gunfight between outlaws and lawmen back in the 1890s about ten miles outside of town, in a place called Ingalls. When I was fifteen, I read “The Saga of Billy the Kid,” by Walter Noble Burns, which is still a popular book today. I bought a one-dollar Grosset & Dunlap reprint, which advertised another Burns book called “Tombstone,” about Wyatt Earp. I bought that one too...”

“… I think I now have the best outlaw [book] collection there is, and I also have a very large collection of original photographs of Western outlaws and lawmen. I started collecting them in the mid-1970s to complement my books. With my photos, I started with an objective. I found that authors spent years researching books and that they wouldn’t think about the photos until they were ready to publish. They all relied on the same photos. My objective was to upgrade the quality of images used in books and magazines and to correct the misidentification of outlaws in the pictures. Consequently, a lot of people come to me for photos.

-- Bob McCubbin: From “How I Got Started” for Fine Books & Collectibles Magazine, Sept/Oct 2006.

What Others Have to Say About the Robert G. McCubbin Collection:

Bob McCubbin the day he took possession of the Billy the Kid knife.

Bob McCubbin the day he took possession of the Billy the Kid knife.

“When considering sources for the images needed to bring the stories here to life, Robert McCubbin—publisher emeritus of “True West Magazine” and a founder of the Wild West History Association—was an obvious choice. Simply put, the Robert G. McCubbin Collection is unquestionably the premier private collection of American Old West photographs.”
-- Michael Wallis, from the Introduction to “The Wild West 365,” with Suzanne Fitzgerald Wallis, and Robert G. McCubbin, picture editor.

“Today, the McCubbin collection houses first editions of virtually every book touching on outlaw-gunfighter history, together with a multitude of photographs, artifacts and documents unsurpassed by any private archive in the world. Many of these have appeared in the books of the many other writers he has as generously supported as he first supported me.”
-- Frederick Nolan, historian and author

“Certainly the name Robert G. “Bob” McCubbin requires no introduction to Western devotees… Bob is universally recognized as THE authority on Old West Photography. Bob McCubbin’s personal knowledge about old-time photos does not border on the legendary, it IS legendary! Bob is known throughout the world for his outstanding collection of photographs, books and primary documents. Writers, historians, documentary film makers… turn to him for a myriad of problem-solving answers.” -
-- Bob Alexander, author

“In my six years of research for my upcoming duo biography of Lawrence Murphy and James Dolan, entitled “They Fought Billy the Kid: The Lives and Times of Lawrence Murphy and James Dolan,” the most indispensable resource proved the be the papers, documents, letters, photos, and other artifacts relating to New Mexico’s Lincoln County War and its principal participants found in the Robert G. McCubbin Collection, the finest collection on the Lincoln County War in private hands.”
-- Charles M. Usmar, author

"Having known 'Bob' McCubbin for many years, he has long been a mentor to me in numerous ways, but especially in the identification of photographs. His knowledge of all early periods of photographic processes, appropriate styles of clothing and head wear for each period, the makes and models of guns and when they became available, have made him the "go to" guy for over four decades. His collection has not been something hidden away in drawers, cabinets, or vaults, but has been something to be shared with authors, researchers, and numerous publications. His generosity is well-known and his reputation stands as an exemplar for all collectors.”
-- Roy B. Young, 1st Vice-President Wild West History Association

“My thanks to Robert McCubbin for his encouragement and generosity and his sheer presence in the Western history field. Most everyone in Western field knows, and owes, Bob.”
-- William B. Secrest, author

Some highlights from the McCubbin Collection (click on images to view online catalog):