A collection of artefacts belonging to sharpshooter May Lillie, wife of Wild West hero Pawnee Bill, is to cross the block at Morphy Auctions on March 1.
The lot includes an 1887 Winchester Low Wall rifle along with some pieces from Lillie’s time as a sideshow entertainer. She was a famously good shot and could ride a horse like a cowboy.
The lot includes a flag from Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show
There’s small wooden box, bearing a brass plaque stamped “MAY LILLIE”.
Inside is a blue 1886 flag emblazoned BBWWS for Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.
Founded by former Pony Express rider and bison hunter William Cody (aka Buffalo Bill) in 1883, the show was famous for its feats of skill in horse riding and other Old West pursuits.
At the time of its creation, life was getting tough for frontier types.
Cheap farmland was no longer easily available and the railways were connecting one horse towns to the big cities.
Bizarrely, Cody’s show ended up providing employment to a number of legendary figures – including Sitting Bull, Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok.
The box also contains a playing card signed by Pawnee Bill and a stunning pair of beadwork gloves.
May was very much ahead of her time.
In a speech in Chicago in 1907, she said: “Let any normally healthy woman who is ordinarily strong screw up her courage and tackle a bucking bronco, and she will find the most fascinating pastime in the field of feminine athletic endeavor.
“There is nothing to compare, to increase the joy of living, and once accomplished, she’ll have more real fun than any pink tea or theater party or ballroom ever yielded.”
The collection is expected to sell for around $25,000-30,000.
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