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    Description

    "Buckskin Frank" Leslie's Famous Silver-buckled Gun Belt, One of the Most Prized of all Tombstone Artifacts. With its distinguished provenance, this belt is well known to serious Tombstone collectors. It features a massive 2-piece, 3.25" silver buckle, inscribed: "Buckskin Frank, Tombstone, Jan. 1, 1881," further enhanced by two engraved silver side mounts.

    A letter to a previous owner (included) details its history: The belt was "discovered" in 1966 by legendary Western dealer and collector Greg Martin. Later it would pass through the hands of illustrious collectors such as Herb Glass, Gerald Fox, and Buel Ford before coming back to Martin. Greg Martin wrote of it: "I consider the 'Buckskin' Frank Leslie belt to be one of the greatest and most unique artifacts of the American West that I have ever owned." A well-known cabinet photo (copy included shows an unidentified, bearded, armed man-not Leslie-wearing this distinctive belt. The carefully posed photo was clearly done in Fly's studio, but the identity of the man Leslie allowed to wear his belt remains unknown.

    "Buckskin Frank" himself was one of the most colorful characters of early Tombstone. A former Army scout, he settled in the town working as a bartender and part-time card dealer in the Oriental Saloon at the same time as his friend Wyatt Earp, who had a financial interest in the tables at the Oriental. He was a notorious gunman credited with many kills, notably Billy Claibourne, who steadfastly asserted that Leslie was the killer f John Ringo. Among Leslie's other notorious kills was that of his common law wife, Mollie, a former woman of ill repute who worked at the Bird Cage. One evening after a long argument while sitting on their veranda, Frank stood up, declared, "I'll put a stop to this," and shot Mollie dead. Convicted of the murder and sentenced to life in Yuma Territorial Prison, he would serve only six years before securing parole, following a pattern of leniency toward "celebrity" felons often seen in the Old West. Like many Tombstone personalities of that era, he seemed perfectly comfortable operating on both sides of the law-believed to have been involved in stagecoach robbery and other notorious acts. A wonderful 1964 biography of Leslie, "Buckskin Frank" Leslie, Gunman on Tombstone is included with this lot.

    The tooled leather belt shows honest use, but is in excellent condition, and the silver buckle and side mounts retain their original rich patina. A very special opportunity to purchase one of the most important Old West artifacts Heritage has been privileged to present.




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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2016
    11th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 7
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 3,134

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