NOT SOLD (BIDDING OVER)
0.00USD+ premiums, taxes, fees & shipping
WAS NOT SOLD, auction date was 2012 Aug 17 @ 10:00UTC-7 : PDT/MST
The only known photograph of Wyatt Earp, his father Nicholas, and brothers: James, Morgan, Virgil, Warren, and Newton, the son from Nicholas` previous marriage. The oval shaped portrait measures 7.5" x 5.5", with an overall matting and frame measurement of 12" x 14". Records of the Earps’ travels indicate that this photo appears to have been taken in Dodge City in 1875 as part of Morgan Earp’s wedding, which explains why there are no female family members in the photo. The photo was subject to an extensive forensic evaluation by the FBI trained and former longtime assistant sheriff with Carson City Sheriffs Office, Joe Curtis. The 21-page authenticity report of his findings accompanies the piece. This is probably the most important pictorial record of the Wild West to go on sale to the public since the Billy the Kid photo sold at the 2011 Denver Wild West sale.
The Earp Family Portrait and Tokens
Trying to separate fact from fiction in the Old West is like trying to herd a clowder of cats: it takes patience, perseverance and keen observation before you finally realize it’s futile. Throughout the history of the Old West, personalities arose that, today, have become icons of American culture. Personalities like Billy the Kid, Jesse and Frank James and John Wesley Hardin were transformed into Robin Hood-like characters by authors on the pages of dime novels or penny dreadfuls of the 19th century. With the turn of the century, these same desperados were committed to celluloid, when Thomas Edison introduced the world to the western moving picture with his production of “The Great Train Robbery” in 1903.
Lesser known and written about are the individuals who spent most of their lives on the other side of the law. Compared to their outlaw counterparts, they were not as prevalent in pulp fiction, probably because they were less interesting and did not strike fear or romance into the heart of the reader.
This changed when William F. Cody invented his alter ego Buffalo Bill, with the help of writer/publicist Edward Zane Carroll Judson, alias Ned Buntline. Buntline also helped another individual, who took it upon himself to add to his own legend in his later years: Wyatt Earp.
The Traveling Earps
Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp was born in the town of Monmouth, Illinois, on March 19, 1848. He was the third son of Nicholas Earp and Victoria Ann Cooksey, and he was named after his father Nicholas' commanding officer during the Mexican War. Wyatt had two older brothers, James and Virgil, who were both born in Kentucky.
Sometime after Wyatt was born, his family moved near the Dutch community of Pella, Iowa. Nicholas had received a land grant of 160 acres in Iowa for his service in the Mexican War. Two sons, Morgan and Warren, were born in Iowa. Much has been written about the Earp brothers, but Wyatt also had three sisters. Martha was born in Monmouth and was a little over two years older than Wyatt. She died when she was ten years old.
The Earp family moved back and forth from Pella to Monmouth. During one of these moves, Virginia was born in Monmouth. Adelia, Wyatt's youngest sister, was born in Pella during 1861.
Earp, Lawman or Legend
On May 24, 1876, the Wichita Beacon commented: "Wyatt Earp has been put on the police force at Dodge City." Ironically, this article appears to be the first time that the Wichita newspaper actually spelled Wyatt Earp's name correctly. Not much contemporary evidence has been found to support Wyatt's activities as a deputy in Dodge City during 1876-1877. However, Earp was listed as a deputy marshal in the Dodge City newspapers as late as March 31, 1877. Yet, the following month he was no longer included in the newspapers as a member of the police force.
It is believed that Wyatt may have gone to Deadwood, South Dakota, during this period. Many writers have portrayed Earp as a famous lawman at this point and that his mere appearance on gold stages riding shotgun helped keep outlaws from attempting to rob the wagons.
In reality, Wyatt Earp at this time was far from well known as a lawman and had no real reputation that was known throughout the west. He was probably one of several men who were employed to prevent robberies and his actions were no more spectacular than others.
Wyatt was re-joined the Dodge City police force in July 1877. The comments by the Dodge City Times on July 7, 1877, concerning his being given this position, do indicate that he was well liked and respected as an officer in the town.
In later years, Wyatt made several claims that he served as Marshal of Dodge City during the late 1870s and that Ed Masterson, Bat’s older brother, was his deputy, when it fact, it was the other way around.
In 1896, for an article chronicling his life, Wyatt told the San Francisco Examiner several stories, involving his encounters with gunslingers like George Hoy and Clay Allison, none of which were ever supported by any witnesses or evidence,
The fact is, while an event like the gunfight at the OK Corral has been corroborated by first hand accounts, several other events were invented by Wyatt, who hoped to have a movie made about him before he passed away ironically in Hollywood in 1929.
Dodge City and the Photograph
The only known photograph of Wyatt Earp, his father Nicholas, and brothers: James, Morgan, Virgil, Warren, and Newton, the son from Nicholas' previous marriage. The oval shaped portrait measures 7.5" x 5.5", with an overall matting and frame measurement of 12" x 14". Records of the Earps' travels indicate that this photo appears to have been taken in Dodge City in 1875 as part of Morgan Earp’s wedding,, which explains why there are no female family members in the photo. The Earp men, a close knit clan would have gladly gathered for such a momentous occasion. They most likely served as groomsmen for Morgan. During this time, Wyatt was serving on the local police department, while his brother Morgan served as a deputy marshal.
The photo was subject to an extensive forensic evaluation by the FBI trained and former longtime assistant sheriff with Carson City Sheriff’s Office, Joe Curtis. The 21-page authenticity report of his findings accompanies the piece. This is probably the most important pictorial record of the Wild West to go on sale to the public since the Billy the Kid photo sold at the 2011 Denver Wild West sale for $2.3 million.
The Virgil Earp Tokens
Western history enthusiasts have long known about an extremely rare token from Sawtelle, California bearing lawman Virgil Earp’s name, the only surviving coin from America’s most famous lawman family, the Earps of Tombstone fame. It is thought that there are only two or three of these tokens known in any condition. Good for five cents and made of aluminum, it has long been thought that the token was made for use in a saloon, the long-standing business of choice for the Earp family. New research has found that the token dates from the 1901-1903 period when Virgil and his brother James were living and working in Sawtelle, next to the Veterans Home where their father Nick Earp was residing for medical care
To California and the Gold Rush
Nick Earp went to California to find gold in 1851, and thinking of returning to Kentucky or Illinois, he went through the fledgling new community of San Bernardino, California. In 1864, Nick moved the whole family west as part of a large 40 wagon, 150 person wagon train. Brothers Wyatt, Morgan, Warren and James were with the family. James had been wounded in the shoulder in the Civil War. He left the wagon train in Austin, Nevada, where he discovered a taste for gambling and saloons. Nick continued on as wagon master.
Virgil left the war a stagecoach driver. He worked in Nebraska, Iowa, Wyoming and Missouri, according to several sources. Along the way, one of his jobs was to run stages and freight wagons through Prescott, Arizona and San Bernardino. The family returned to Missouri for 1870, where they worked a farm and ran a store and restaurant. There, Virgil married his second wife, Rosilla Dragoo, who seems to have disappeared as quickly as she appeared. Virgil met his third wife Allie in 1873 in Nebraska while working as a stage driver, and the couple remained together for the rest of his life.
By 1876, Wyatt Earp and some of the brothers had become law officers in various Kansas towns, including the infamous Dodge City. By late 1877, Virgil was in Prescott, probably as a wagon master or stage driver. Once there, Virgil was almost immediately involved in a shootout that would shape the rest of his career as a powerful lawman. The next year, Virgil was driving stage in and out of local mining camps such as Tip Top, where the well-producing Peck Mine was located. Within no time at all, Virgil was named Constable. There he met John Behan, who was to become a life-long nemesis, though little or nothing is known of their relationship until the famous shootout at the OK Corral in Tombstone in 1881.
Tombstone and the OK Corral
Tombstone drew the Earp brothers in 1879. Virgil was a mining camp lawman (Deputy US Marshal), and Wyatt was hoping to open a stage line. They staked mining claims, conducted business, and looked for ways to make more money, the same as any entrepreneur in a new mining camp.
Much has been written of the OK Corral. After months of tension between cowboys and Tombstone lawmen, fights broke out and men were killed. It culminated in a gunfight at the OK Corral and immortality.
The families later moved to Colton, California, where Nick had been managing the Gem Saloon since 1880. He and other members of the family had also briefly resided in Temescal, the site of the first tin rush in America, when tin was worth nearly the same price as gold.
Mining and Saloons in Southern California
By 1893 Virgil had mining fever all over again, and headed out to Vanderbilt, on the eastern outskirts of California near the Nevada border. There he ran the Whist Club Saloon. His wife Allie would later recount; “Two-three years at the most was all we could seem to stand in one place, we was that restless.”
By 1900 Virgil was living in Kirkland Valley, Yavapai County, Arizona, a remote area a ways from Prescott. In 1901, Virgil applied for a gambling license in Colton, but was turned down. His father Nick had become ill, and had been placed in the Veterans Home at Sawtelle. Virgil’s brother James came to live nearby to help care for their father. Virgil began selling off his Arizona properties that year, which continued for at least another year. For the brief period of 1901-1903 both James and Virgil lived part to full time in Sawtelle overseeing their father Nick’s health.
Sawtelle was a quiet community born of the San Vincente land grant, a place where the historic Sepulveda family of Los Angeles fame lived in adobe houses as Californios in the early 1800’s. The ruins of their adobes lasted until just after 1900, as reported by Ingersoll. Just three miles from the beach community of Santa Monica, Sawtelle was the product of the Pacific Land Company, who created it in 1897. Sawtelle was originally known as Barrett, California, first managed by S. H. Taft. As the town and the need for a Post Office began to grow, the name was changed to Sawtelle in honor of another developer W. E. Sawtelle, who would succeed Taft in 1899 as manager of the Pacific Land Company. Lots were originally sold for $80 to $100 each, and corner lots for $150-$200.
Many of the new residents of Sawtelle were veterans or relatives who wanted to be near their family members at Veterans Home, one of many like-named places established for injured, sick, aging or indigent war veterans. Veterans Home at Sawtelle held more than 2000 men. As a required by the Government for the establishment of Veterans Home, a law was passed that there be no saloons within a 1.5 mile distance, thus by 1904 there were no saloons in Sawtelle. A newspaper was established there in 1901. The first two story brick building was erected in 1903, and later that year the first bank came to town. Sawtelle was annexed by Los Angeles in 1922.
Nevada Mining Camps and the Earps
In 1901, Virgil’s brother Wyatt returned from Nome, where he owned the Dexter Saloon. He went to the new booming Nevada mining camp of Tonopah, where he ran the Northern Saloon. Exceptionally rich gold deposits were found at Goldfield, about 30 miles south of Tonopah in 1903, and Wyatt told Virgil about the new discoveries. Ever the wanderlust, Allie and Virgil were off to Goldfield by mid-1904, where Virgil became Deputy Sheriff of Esmeralda County. Additionally, he was a “special officer” of the National, a popular saloon. Wyatt’s friend Tex Rickard opened the Northern Saloon in Goldfield about that time. He had run the Northern Saloon in Nome, and was the one who got Wyatt back into the saloon business, convincing him to buy the Dexter Saloon there.
Virgil died in October 1905 of pneumonia in Goldfield. Ten others died that month from the outbreak. His daughter buried him in Portland, Oregon.
The Earp Coin
The Virgil Earp token (coin) must date from the 1901-1903 period, and is quite probably from 1902-1903, after Virgil and James had established residence in Sawtelle to care for their father Nick. As long time saloon owners, the Earp family were experts at saloon management, and the token certainly must reflect the ownership of one in Sawtelle.
Veterans were heavy drinkers, as evidenced by this quote from Ingersoll (History of Santa Monica Bay Cities, 1908, p. 343) : “After ‘pension day’ a large number usually went out on furlough, and some of them spend their money foolishly.” This led to outlawing of saloons within 1.5 miles of Veterans Home. The Earp’s saloon either was 1.51 miles way or more (easily attainable in Sawtelle) or was operating before the law was passed. Either way, the saloon was short-lived. Virgil left for Goldfield, where he died.
By 1905 there were no saloons in Sawtelle, as evidenced by the Suits-Schuman California Gazeteer. The move to protect Veterans from spending their money at nearby saloons was successful.
The Earp coin is only known in the five cent denomination. This denomination could have covered a number of different things, though it was generally good for a glass of cheap beer. A ten cent beer would have been a better brand. Cigars sold in saloons were generally two and a half cents. Shots of bourbon were generally one bit, or twelve and a half cents.
There is no maker shown on the coin, which was probably made by a Los Angeles die maker in 1902. The largest such company at the time was the Los Angeles Rubber Stamp Co., who made similar coinage, and later marked their coins at the bottom of the obverse with “LARS” or “LARS Co.” Kappan interviewed the owner of the company in 1964 who stated that they made tokens as early as 1887 to 1891. They had issued tokens for local merchants prior to that date, though they were made under contract with C. H. Hanson of Chicago, a well known die sinker.
Few of these tokens exist in collections today. Only one has surfaced publicly. It was offered on eBay about seven years ago, and abruptly pulled from auction when the bid reached nearly $3,000. It is thought that there are less than five specimens known, possibly only three in any condition. This specimen is the better of the two seen by the author. It was found in the Goldfield dump by token hunter and antique dealer Lee Howard in the 1970s. Long-time collector and Carson City Sheriff Hal Dunn purchased the coin from Howard, and it remained in his collection until after his death in 2007. The piece is so rare that it was not known at the time of the publication of Charlie Kappan’s California Trade Tokens in 1976, but since was listed in the Supplement because of the Dunn specimen (this piece). The importance of these tokens cannot be understated, because their presence in Goldfield most certainly infers that they were carried there by Virgil Earp himself.