Harrisburg Wild West artifacts go to auction today

Written by Craig Layne and Radio Pennsylvania | Jul 15, 2013 4:00 AM
Artifacts Hat.jpg

Photo by Craig Layne/witf

A hat that's part of the artifact collection.

(Harrisburg) -- Former Harrisburg Mayor Stephen Reed spent nearly eight million dollars on a collection of Wild West artifacts he hoped to put in a new museum.

The museum never materialized and the collection has been gathering dust for years -- until now.

Starting today, an estimated 8,000 pieces are going up for auction in hopes of injecting much-needed cash into the struggling Captial City.

Guernsey's Auction Company President Arlan Ettinger says a few of the items have ties to some of the most legendary names in the wild west.

"Famous people like Wyatt Earp, Annie Oakley, Jesse James and Doc Holliday, or many treasures from Native Americans," Ettinger says.

While some pieces have a documented history, collectors have raised questions about the authenticity of some objects.

At least one militaria collecting online forum is warning its members to avoid submitting bids.

Despite an "as-is" warning in the auction's terms and conditions section on Guernsey's website, Ettinger says he expects the sale to draw widespread interest.

He says it makes sense to have the auction in Harrisburg instead of Guernsey's home base in New York City.

"This collection has been rumored to exist for years and years, and to divorce the material, to separate the material from the setting it has been associated with, would be, I think, a marketing mistake," Ettinger says.

Items in the auction have no reserve.

Not everything is connected to the Wild West.

The auction house says there are African tribal artifacts, Spanish Colonial items, and pieces from the Revolutionary War.

Participants can bid in person at Carousel Pavilion on City Island, or they can use online auction services.

The bidding starts at 10 this morning and runs through Sunday.

Published in Harrisburg, News

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