Silver bars draw interest from bidders at Holabird auction in February

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Western Americana fans turned out in droves for Holabird’s massive four-day Western Trails & Treasures auction, held Feb. 24-27, online and live in the gallery at 3555 Airway Drive in Reno. Nearly 2,500 lots crossed the auction block across a wide range of categories, at prices that appealed to novice collectors and seasoned veterans alike.

San Francisco Mint silver bar, 0.999 fine, weighing 6.61 oz. and showing the old San Francisco Mint pre-WWII logo ($7,230).

The sale was loaded with significant collections, including Part 2 of the Ron Lerch Western Yearbook Collection; Part 2 of the Joe Elcano Nevada Collection; more of the Ken Prag railroad stock collection; more from the Stuart MacKenzie Montana Collection; Bill McKivor’s Mining, Numismatics and Americana Collection and more, plus great rarities from other private collections.

Online auctions were facilitated by iCollector.com, LiveAuctioneers.com, Invaluable.com and Auctionzip.com. Here are the highlights of the auction. Prices include buyer’s premium.

Day 1, Thursday, February 24, was dedicated to Americana in general, in categories including general books, games, saloon and brewing, jewelry, home furnishings, musical instruments and memorabilia, the miniature train and car, badges, geographically sorted and miscellaneous lots.

Day 1 highlights included a batch of five publications relating to Philippine travel ephemera, all from the first half of the 20th century, an example being a rare official program for the Philippine Carnival held in Manila in 1910, 80 pages (10 $938); and an archive of approximately 400 photographs of San Francisco and the Northern Redwood Corridor, taken circa 1932-1935 by photographer Russell William Angel, including many shots of the majestic California redwoods ($3,000).

Philippine travel ephemera
Five publications relating to travel ephemera in the Philippines, first half of the 20th century; an example: a rare official Philippine carnival program held in Manila in 1910, 80 pages ($10,938).

Also sold on Day 1 was a rare and large Staffordshire blue and white ironstone footbath and transfer pitcher set made by an unknown craftsman, the 13 ½ inch tall pitcher ($2,625); a group of six bottles of antique bitters, from various locations including Philadelphia, South Redding (Mass.), Richmond (Virginia) and Toronto, Canada ($875); and an Independent Oil glazed ceramic sign in red, white and black (“From Coast to Coast – Independent Oil”) with each side 27 inches ($875).

Blue Staffordshire
A rare and large footbath and transfer pitcher in blue and white Staffordshire ironstone made by an unknown craftsman, the pitcher is 13 ½ inches tall ($2,625).
independent oil sign
Ceramic glaze plaque by Independent Oil in red, white and black (“Coast to Coast – Independent Oil”), each side 27 inches ($875).

Day 2, Friday February 25, was a busy one featuring stocks and bonds (in the mining, railroad, transportation and miscellaneous categories); and numismatics (including currency, certificates and ephemera; bullion and bullion; coins, medals and tokens). More than 625 lots were offered.

Day 2 star lots included a San Francisco Mint silver bar, with a fine of 0.999, weighing 6.61 oz. and showing the old San Francisco Mint pre-WWII logo ($7,230); a one troy ounce solid 14k gold men’s ring carefully holding a 1/3 Stater gold coin from the 6th century BC, one of the world’s earliest gold coins ($3,250); and a rare 1820 Hudson’s Bay Company one-pound sterling certificate, issued at York Factory and signed by two officials ($1,000).

Gold ring
Solid 14k gold 1 troy ounce men’s ring carefully holding a 1/3 Stater gold coin from the 6th century BC, one of the world’s earliest gold coins ($3,250).

Silver bars, in addition to the one described, were popular with bidders. Examples included:

  • A set of three Engelhard silver bars, 999+ fine, weighing three, four and five ounces, produced before the German chemical company was acquired by BASF in 2006 ($2,169).
  • Two 10 oz silver bars from the Escalante mine produced in 1990 by Johnson Matthey (USA) for Ranchers Exploration and Development Corporation (Albuquerque, NM) ($1,446).
  • A Carson (Philadelphia) jade assay .999 fine silver bar, 9.81 troy ounces ($1,448).

A collection of 35 shiny, uncirculated Benjamin Franklin half dollar coins, dated 1948-1963 and housed in a Capital Plastics coin case, went for $1,438; a lot of three rare tokens from the mining district of Bullfrog, Nevada (example: “Mountain Bell Club, Rhyolite, Nev., Good for 12.5 Cents in Trade”), changed hands for $2,250; and a 19-inch tall Carson City (Nev.) US Mint canvas bag fetched $2,125. The Mint used silver from the nearby Comstock Lode mining district.

Bullfrog tokens
Lot of three rare tokens from the Bullfrog, Nevada mining district (example: “Mountain Bell Club, Rhyolite, Nev., Good for 12.5 Cents in Trade”) ($2,250).

A rare specimen 19th-century Central Pacific Railroad (Calif.) stock certificate for $100 par stock, with a vignette at the bottom of three allegorical women, fetched $750; an early stock certificate No. 68 of Sutro Tunnel (Nev.), dated October 18, 1868 in New York and issued to Solomon Haas of New York for 100 shares, reached $625; and a 1902 Yosemite Valley (Calif.) Railroad Company specimen bond, with a spectacular Yosemite Valley vignette, went for $671.

Specimen share certificate
Rare specimen 19th century Central Pacific Railroad (Calif.) stock certificate for $100 par stock, with a vignette at the bottom of three allegorical women ($750).

Day 3, Saturday, February 26, was filled with nearly 600 lots of minerals and mining; directories (with part 2 of the Ron Lerch collection); military; and political memories.

Top lots included a copy of Brown & Dallison’s Nevada, Grass Valley and Rough and Ready Directory (California), 133 pages, with advertisements, compiled by Nat P. Brown and John K. Dallison, San Francisco ($5,375); a rare copy from 1853 Marysville City, California Directory of Hale and Emory with residents listed alphabetically by occupations and addresses, plus businesses ($9,150); and the original 1862 Placerville, California Directory by Thomas Fitch, printed by Placerville Republican, 128 pages, with a softcover reprint by the El Dorado County Museum ($5,125).

1853 Marysville Yearbook
Rare 1853 copy of the Hale and Emory directory of Marysville City, Calif. with residents listed alphabetically by occupations and addresses, as well as businesses ($9,150).

One of only two known Nevada directories from 1868 to 1869, a database of over 4,000 settlers, with addresses and often occupations, found a new owner for $3,416; an authentic ore wagon for Caird Engineering Works, about 3½ feet high, 4 feet long, and 2 feet wide, with end dump, switches, and wheels in working order, cost 3,375 $; and a Confederate D Guard Short Saber Bowie Knife, 22½ inches long with a 17¼ inch blade, maker unknown, fetched $2,625.

ore car
Genuine ore wagon for Caird Engineering Works, approximately 3 ½ feet high, 4 feet long, and 2 feet wide, with end dump, switches, and wheels in working condition ($3,375).

The final day of the auction, Sunday, February 27, featured art, Native Americans, transportation (railroad and steamboat crossings, ephemera, and artifacts); plus numerous bargain and dealer specials including General Americana, Stocks & Bonds, and Numismatics – a total of 625 lots on Day 4.

The art was led by a classic oil on canvas western cowboy hunting scene by FW Trautwein, titled on the frame Meat ain’t meat until it’s in the pan (1972), depicting a cowboy who has just shot a mountain sheep ($1,875). Nothing could be found regarding FW Trautwein, or anyone of the same name in Falk. But the quality of the craftsmanship of the horses and the man was excellent.

Painting by Trautwein
Oil on canvas Western Cowboy Hunting Scene by FW Trautwein, titled Meat’s Not Meat Til It’s In The Pan (1972), of a cowboy who has just shot a mountain sheep ($1,875).

A group of 18 railroad lock keys from several Iowa railroad lines (Newton & Northwestern RR, Cedar Rapids & Iowa City RY, Des Moines & Central Iowa RR, Mason City & Clear Lake RY and many others) went to a determined bidder for $2,500. Also, a Carson and Colorado Railroad (Virginia City, Nevada) lock and key stamped “Union Brass Mfg. Co./Chicago” fetched $1,708.

A Hudson River Line steamer pass, no. 1206, with a maroon title and a beautiful vignette of a paddle steamer that fills most of the top half, issued for 1898 to BP Holland of the Norfolk, Virginia Beach & Southern Railroad, fetched $1,375; while a Utah Central Railway annual pass for 1885, issued to W.H. Hurlburt and signed by Mormon leader and prominent Utah figure, John Sharp (as superintendent), fetched $1,312. The Utah Central connected Salt Lake City to Ogden.

Holabird Western Americana Collections, LLC is always looking for new and important collections to bring to market. It prides itself on being a major source of selling Americana at the best prices available, having outsold any other similar company in the past decade alone. The company will soon have its entire sales database online, free of charge – nearly 200,000 lots sold since 2014.

To consign a unique piece or collection, you can call Fred Holabird at 775-851-1859 or 844-492-2766; or, you can send an e-mail to. To learn more about Holabird Western Americana Collections, LLC, please visit www.holabirdamericana.com. Updates released frequently.

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