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$380,000 for Wyatt Earp's sketch of the infamous Gunfight at the OK Corral

The lawman's drawing of the most famous battle of the Old West led a gun-themed historical auction

Over the weekend Alexander Autographs held its Fall Historical Auction, which held some classic pieces of Americana, and proved to be dominated by the United States's love of guns:

Al Capone is one of the most famous gangsters to have lived. Thought to have been responsible for the St Valentine's Day massacre, he was eventually locked up on tax evasion charges.His personal Colt Police Positive .38 Special revolver was up for grabs at the sale.

The silver chromed revolver, serial no. 384221, bears a four inch barrel, Colt logo stamped on the left side, with factory-original wood grips with Colt logos in relief. Colt records indicate that this pistol was manufactured in 1939, the year Capone was released from federal prison.

"You can get much farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone." Capone was once quoted as saying. Without any particular kind words being offered, the gun made it as far as $20,000.

Al Capone's revolver
Al Capone's revolver

Capone considered himself to be living out the American ideal of capitalism. Thomas P "Boston" Corbett would certainly consider himself to be a true American too, regardless of what others might have thought of his actions.

The Union army sergeant shot President Abraham Lincoln's assassin John Wilkes Booth as the latter passed a crack in the wall of a burning barn in Virginia - against orders to take him alive. Also provided in the sale was a handwritten, signed letter by the lawman.

Written to a well-wisher, Mr Harrington, in May 1865 it reads: "Dear Sir In Answer to Your request I would say that Booth was Shot on the Morning of the 26th of April 1865 Near Port Royal, Virginia at which place we crossed the Rappahannock in Pursuit.

"He lived but a short time after he was shot, perhaps 3 hours, and at or about Seven O- clock that morning he died." The letter sold as expected for $20,000.

However, the star lot in the auction by mile was one linked to Corbett's near contemporary Wyatt S Earp, a gunfighter from the Battle at OK Corral - generally regarded as the most famous gunfight in the history of the Old West.

Earp's own annotated sketch of the epic battle (produced during an 'interview' about the gunfight with a man he regarded as a son, John Flood) with the Clanton and McLaury brothers went under the hammer.

Battle at the OK Corral
Sketch of the battle at the OK Corral

"All of the principals are labeled, including the three Earp brothers, the McLaurys, Doc Holliday, Billy Clanton, "Billy the Kid" Claiborne, several witnesses, and the crowd which came to watch from the south end of town.

"Ike Clanton is not shown on the diagram, illustrating Earp's continued contempt for Billy's brother who tried to grab Wyatt's arm during the fight and wailed: "I am not armed!" before fleeing through Fly's boarding house."

Estimated at a substantial $75,000-100,000 the map, which remains in excellent condition, was fought over furiously by the (thankfully unarmed) bidders, with a stunning $380,000 finally achieved for the classic piece of Americana.



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Images: Alexander Autographs

Last updated: 11 October 2010