This year’s auction highlights offer pieces from a variety of different collecting categories. Fine art offerings include works by such noted artists as Frank McCarthy, Will James, Bill Owen, Scott Rogers, Richard Friese, Donna Howell-Sickles, Howard Post, Buck McCain, Dave Powell, Eric Michaels, Mehl Lawson, Joe Beeler, Robert Winter, L.A. Huffman, Frank Sauerwein, Dale Ford, Sidney Harry Riesenberg and other deceased and contemporary artists. Three pieces by noted Indian portrait painter, E. A. Burbank will be offered, including a pastel portrait of Virgil Earp (estimate: $60,000-80,000).
The Old West is well-represented with fine artifacts such as Annie Oakley’s Remington rifle, trophy and photos (estimate: $300,000-325,000); Frank Stillwell’s Colt Single Action revolver, believed to be the gun with which he shot Morgan Earp; Wyatt Earp’s walking stick; Cherokee Bill’s Winchester; and Pawnee Bill’s personal saddle. Several early Wyoming Territory saddles and accessories will be offered, by makers such as Meanea and Gallatin.
Related to the Old West, but more contemporarily created, are six life-size, folk art carvings by the esteemed Arizona carver, Dee Flagg, who carved every piece by hand. Crafted to fine detail and dressed in period clothing, the lifelike figures are of Wild Bill Hickok, Wyatt Earp, Daniel Boone, Jesse James, Calamity Jane, and of course, Billy the Kid (estimate: $15,000-20,000 each).
Cowboy trappings from spurs to saddles are always well-represented at Lebel’s auctions, and this sale boasts a number of rare and impressive pieces. There are several sterling parade saddles, including Bohlin examples, as well as a stunning Loomis Saddlery saddle that belonged to the famous Santa Barbara rancher, Dixie W. Thompson. The custom saddle, originally crafted in 1889 and displayed at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, is ornately decorated in fine silverwork by the Tiffany-trained master, Edwin Field (estimate: $60,000-80,000). The saddle has been in the collection of San Francisco’s de Young Museum for almost ninety years, and its sale will benefit the Fine Arts Museums of San Fransico’s acquisition funds. Auction owner Brian Lebel states, “This is a rare opportunity to purchase a custom masterwork with extensive California and American history as well as museum provenance. I’m honored to offer it.”
Among the Native American antiquities being offered is the ensemble of an Apache Warrior, originally collected in Texas and held in a private collection for the past 140 years. A scarce, fully beaded horse’s neck drape; a ledger-style, circa 1880s Sioux model tipi; silver Navajo bridles and many other fine Indian artifacts will also cross the block, including an impressive pair of quilled Mandan leggings.
Brian Lebel’s Old West Auction will be held at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 6, 2015 in the Amon G. Carter Exhibits Hall at the Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth, TX. The Old West Show is held at the same location on Saturday and Sunday, June 6th and 7th. This is the first year in Texas for Lebel’s venerable event, which began in Cody, Wyoming 26 years ago. Of the move to the Lone Star State, Lebel says, “Fort Worth is a city that embraces its rich western history while still celebrating its contemporary culture.” He adds, “It’s a perfect fit for us, and I’m not sure why we didn’t make the move sooner.”
Admission to the Old West Show is $10 per day with children under 12 free, and discount tickets are available online. Admission to the Auction and Auction Preview are free and open to the public. Bidder registration is free, and bidding is available live, online, by telephone or absentee. Catalogs are available for purchase. Details can be found at www.oldwestevents.com or by calling 480-779-9378.