Legendary US lawman's signature could bring $10,000


If you're ever on the lookout for an autograph whose investment potential matches its significance, then you may want to consider hunting an historic signer who had many strings to their bow.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), for instance, was a United States Founding Father and noted polymath. His achievements ranged from author, politician, inventor and soldier to diplomat.

The value of Franklin's autograph was demonstrated at a recent Robert A Siegel auction. Signed in the 1750s, during his time as Deputy Postmaster General of the Colonies in America, it sold for $10,500.

Most people, of course, know of Benjamin Franklin. But fewer people will have heard of William Barclay Masterson (1853-1921, pictured top right).

The book, inscribed by Masterson, remains in good condition

"Bats" Masterson, as he is most commonly known, remains a legendary figure of the Old West whose resume included frontier lawman, US Marshal, US Army scout, sports editor and columnist for the New York Morning Telegraph, buffalo hunter and gambler.

In fact, while his legend remains little-known outside the US, Masterson even had a semi-fictional US television series based on his life which ran from 1958 to 1961 (see the above video).

Bats Masterson's autograph is therefore a great find for collectors - not only because of his remarkable life and achievements, but also because his signature is quite rare in any form.

And a particularly sought-after Masterson signature will be going up for auction at Heritage Auction Galleries' Grand Format Political & Americana auction on Saturday May 22.

Especially coveted by collectors are Masterson signatures dated to his time in Dodge City - a legendary town in which he played an active and important role.

Inside Robert M Wright's classic book, featuring illustrations

Heritage's auction will featured a signed copy of the famous book Dodge City The Cowboy Capital, signed and inscribed by Masterson himself.

The specially-bound presentation copy of the important work is inscribed on the flyleaf: "To Frank Salter From his friend W. B. Masterson New York City Feby. 10, 1914".

An original 1913 first edition of Robert M Wright's famous book, it was signed by Masterson and gifted to Salter while the former was a reporter and sports editor at the Telegraph.

The relationship between Masterson and Salter is uncertain, but likely to be further investigated by historians - making this signed book very significant indeed.

According to Heritage, the book's interior pages are in good condition with some minor rubbing on the front cover. It is believed that Masterson may have had it rebound to enhance its presentation.

Measuring 5 x 7.75 inches with a thickness of 1.75 inches, Dodge City The Cowboy Capital will appear at Heritage with a pre-sale estimate of $10,000-12,000.


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