"Wild Bill" Hickok's pistol to be auctioned in San Francisco

Mon Nov 18, 2013 7:25am EST
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By Laila Kearney

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - 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 No. 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.

"Wild Bill Hickok is as big an icon of the Old West as there is," Ferrell said. "Anything in our field that's associated with somebody who's famous gives a whole new value to the item."

Also contributing to the gun's value is the fact that Hickok left behind very few belongings when he died in 1876, Ferrell said.

Despite an uptick in those wanting to catch a glimpse of the historic revolver before it finds a new home, the item's steep price tag would probably shrink the number of actual bidders, Ferrell said.

Hickok, a lawman known for his shooting and gambling skills, was playing a game of poker at the Nuttal & Mann's Saloon in Deadwood, South Dakota, when he was shot from behind by Jack "Crooked Nose" McCall. McCall reportedly shouted "Damn you! Take that!" after pulling the trigger.

A fictionalized Hickok was a central character in the former Emmy-winning TV western series "Deadwood" from HBO, and his death was featured in the show.   Continued...