MCALLEN (AP) – A shotgun that once belonged to Western sharpshooter and entertainer Annie Oakley sold for more than $143,000 at an auction in Dallas on Sunday.
The trove of about 100 of the icon’s items headlining Heritage Auctions’ “Legends of the Wild West” event brought in nearly $520,000, according to the auction house.
The items included several guns, her Stetson hat, photographs and letters. Oakley’s great-grandnieces put up the items and had inherited them from their mother, who died in 2009.
One of those descendants, Terrye Holcomb, said, overall, the auction’s success left her with a positive feeling, but “there’s a little bit of melancholy and sadness that goes with it.”
The items had been passed down through generations. Holcomb remembers shooting the guns for target practice on Sunday mornings in California’s Santa Monica Mountains and wearing Oakley’s Stetson hat — which sold for $17,925 — for Halloween.
But Holcomb said seeing how excited some of the buyers were with their purchases made her feel good.
One man who flew in from Odessa to bid on one of two Marlin .22 caliber rifles — one sold for $71,700, the other for $83,650 — asked Holcomb and her sister, Tommye Tait, to sign his catalog after buying one of the rifles.
“He said his kids couldn’t wait to shoot it,” Holcomb said.
The sisters inherited the items from their mother, Billie Butler Serene, who died in 2009 at the age of 95.
Serene was raised by her grandparents, and her grandfather, William Butler, was the brother of Oakley’s husband, Frank Butler, a marksman who became Oakley’s manager. Oakley and Frank Butler frequently visited and Oakley taught Serene how to handle a gun.
Holcomb said she grew up hearing stories about Oakley without fully realizing her impact.
“I’ve not ceased being amazed by her enduring legacy,” she said.
Oakley’s Parker Brothers 12-gauge shotgun garnered the highest price, $143,400. Tom Slater, Director of Historical Auctions for Heritage, would not identify the gun’s buyer, but said he was a private collector of Oakley and Buffalo Bill items and had purchased a number of Sunday’s auction pieces.
While the guns’ prices met the auction’s expectations, the letters and photographs exceeded what was anticipated by about 50 percent, Slater said. It’s rare for so many pieces with a strong family connection to come on the market, he said.
“Annie Oakley was arguably America’s first female superstar, touring the US and the world in the late 1800s and early 20th century and demonstrating her legendary Wild West sharpshooting skills,” Slater said.
Oakley became famous for her marksmanship while traveling in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. She died in 1926 at the age of 66.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)