A piece of Wild West history is due to go on sale on Monday when the revolver gunfighter James “Wild Bill” Hickok carried on the day he was shot down at a Deadwood saloon, is set to be auctioned off in San Francisco.
Bonhams Auctioneers put the Smith & Wesson #2 revolver, estimated at a value of between $300,000 and $500,000, on display for public viewing the Friday.
The piece has attracted special attention, compared to the other 500 items listed in the sale, likely because of its famed owner, Bonhams Arms and Armor specialist James Ferrell said.
Hickok was partaking in a game of poker at the Nuttal & Mann’s Saloon in Deadwood, S.D., when he was plugged from behind by Jack “Crooked Nose” McCall. McCall purportedly bellowed “Damn you! Take that!” as he squeezed the trigger.
“Damn you! Take that!” is something auctioneers yesterday did not deign to bellow. And the bidders did not take that.
The weapon has been in possession of the Zymetzke family for more than 40 years. They may put it up for auction once more, call the whole thing off, or accept the stunted offers.
Whatever the case, this pistol is hardly the most controversial Wild West paraphernalia to be displayed in San Francisco. For years, now-deceased bar impresario Henry Africa exhibited the teeth of “Custer’s squaw” at Eddie Rickenbacker’s. After pressure from Indian groups and even the city’s Human Rights Commission, Africa tossed the teeth in the garbage in a fit of pique.
“Now they’re buried in San Francisco city dump, and the Indians will be happier, and they can pray over the debris in the city dump out there right now,” he told SF Weekly at the time.
This is a fate Hickok’s pistol will, all but certainly, not suffer. You can bet your teeth on it.