Several outstanding private collections sourced from the West Coast, Florida and the Northeast headline Mosby & Co’s March 23, 2013 Americana, Historical & Posters catalog auction. The 400-lot sale features a small but select collection of ethnographic material from South America, Africa and Oceana; antique military and Western items, folk art and a number of rare circus and magic posters.
The approximately 20-piece ethnographic collection is led by a first-period (250-450 A.D.) Sihuas Nazca camelid-fiber ceremonial mantle that Mosby & Co. owner Keith Spurgeon describes as being in “spectacular original condition.” Woven in an arana (spider web) pattern, the mantle is expected to make $10,000-$15,000. The collection also includes a possibly 19th-century Papua New Guinea ceremonial drum with provenance from two Swedish collections and record of prior sale (2005) at Sotheby’s Paris. Other interesting tribal pieces include a 19th-century Woodlands Indians feast bowl and a well-cast circa-800 A.D. Urabe (Colombian) gold shaman’s pendant.
The military and Western section of the sale contains several desirable weapons, including a Civil War-era Colt army pistol, a very fine Model 1873 Winchester lever-action .44 caliber rifle made in 1866, and a Model 1878 Colt Frontiersman gun with original custom holster. The latter firearm was purchased new in 1888 and passed down through successive generations of the original owner’s family.
Mosby & Co. is especially proud of its featured military collection, which comes from a California consignor. “It is an important archive of relics and memorabilia pertaining to US Indian Agent Samuel Snider. It includes his original 1883 appointment document signed by President Chester A. Arthur, which indicates he was assigned to Fort Peck, Montana. You never see these – they just don’t come up,” said Spurgeon.
After his Ft. Peck tenure and shortly before the turn of the 19th century, Snider relocated to the Navajo Nations, as documented in the archival letter of recommendation from Lorenzo Hubbell, dated 1897. Hubbell, whose trading post is a national monument, was one of the most prominent Indian traders of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. By permission of the Navajo tribe, Hubbell became the only white man to be given the honor of burial on Navajo lands.
The archive also includes several photos of Snider, including one that shows him with Hubbell and several Native Americans. Also of note are 75 glass-plate images Snider took of Navajo, Pueblo and Hopi in native dress and tribal children in their school uniforms.
Another featured collection, which will be sold as a single lot, is the Guy Zani Jr reference collection of Durable Toy & Novelty Uncle Sam cash register banks. The approximately 100 semi-mechanical banks represent a broad production range from 1907 through 1960s. While many were made in the USA, some others were manufactured in Canada, Europe and South America.
“There are one-of-a-kind examples in this collection that most people don’t even know exist, as well as the only known store display, several factory boxes, and original company paperwork,” Spurgeon noted.
Graphic art collectors always look forward to Mosby & Co.’s sales because they almost always include a carefully handpicked selection of beautiful early posters, with themes that include Western, circus, military and magic. The comprehensive grouping to be offered on March 23 is led by a superb, mint-condition 1938 Tim McCoy Wild West Show three-sheet. Spurgeon believes it may be the only extant example.
Not one, but two 1910 six-sheet posters touting the magician known as “The Great Raymond” will be auctioned, as will two coveted, hand-signed Houdini letters. One of the letters was written on American Society of Magicians letterhead during the time that Houdini served as the organization’s president. The other is a letter of sympathy written on Houdini’s personal letterhead.
A selection of very nice folk art, mostly dating to the 19th century, includes a mustard-color grain-painted spice cabinet and a few hand-painted barber signs. Among the other Americana items expected to attract attention on auction day is a 1909 Pittsburg (sic.) Pirates souvenir hand fan in the form of a baseball bat. The paper portion of the fan is constructed of 15 panels with images of baseball players, including Honus Wagner and other Hall of Famers.
Fifteen to 20 Vestas (match safes) from a single Florida collection have been entered in the sale. All are nicely decorated and replicate animals, people and other objects that are especially appealing to Vesta collectors.
Mosby & Co.’s Saturday, March 23, 2013 auction will commence at 10 a.m. Eastern Time at the company’s gallery at 5714-A Industry Lane, Frederick, MD 21704. Preview hours are 5-7 PM on Friday, March 22; 8-10 AM on auction day, and by appointment during the week prior to the sale.
All forms of bidding will be available, including live via the Internet through LiveAuctioneers.com and Proxibid.com. Printed catalogs are $26 postpaid to US addresses; $35 international. For additional information, call (240) 629-8139 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit Mosby & Co. online at www.mosbyauctions.com.