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    Description

    The earliest known Wyatt Earp signature

    Constable Wyatt Earp Autograph Endorsement Signed on a February 1870 Lamar, Missouri Subpoena Document. Two pages (one leaf, front and back), 7.75" x 4.75", partly-printed "State of Missouri" form filled out in manuscript, February 28, 1870, Lamar Township, Barton County, Missouri. This form had been originally printed for St. Louis township in St. Louis county; these printed words are all crossed out and corrected in manuscript. It is a summons for Thomas G. Harvey to appear forthwith, "...to testify on the trial of a case wherein the state of Missouri plaintiff, and Thomas Brown is defendant, on the part of the Defendant and of this you are not to fail at your peril." It is signed by Justice "M Pyle". The verso contains the following handwritten and signed endorsement by the twenty-one year old Constable Wyatt Earp, written horizontally on the top half of the page: "I have served the within Summons/ upon the within Named Thomas g Harvey/ by Reading the same to him/ this Feb 28, 1870/ W. S. Earp/ Const". Earp has also written "Const fee 25-" beneath the docketing information. There are three insignificant filing tears along the top and one minor tear along the left edge, affecting none of the writing. One very light stain at the right edge detracts little. The endorsement and signature is bold and clear with a negligible smudge on the "th" in "this". Overall in fine condition with one original fold, no toning, and sharp, clean edges. Stunningly double matted and framed to an overall 25.75" x 17.5" where the verso of the document is shown beneath a reproduction of the recto. Two photos, one a portrait, the other a photo of the Dodge City Peace Commission, and two engraved plates complete the presentation. Certainly worthy of the finest collections.

    Wyatt Earp had been appointed constable in Lamar on November 26, 1869, replacing his father who had resigned to become justice of the peace. This document is dated just three months later, and only weeks after he married his first wife Urilla Sutherland (who was to die later that same year). Dodge City, Tombstone, the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Bat Masterson, Doc Holliday, the vendetta ride, and all the rest of the events, locations, and associations that fascinate us about Earp were in his future at this point in time. A bit of research has turned up the likely identity of the defendant Thomas Brown. In the 1860 U.S. census for Lamar Township, there is a fourteen year old son of a blacksmith named Thomas L. Brown. He would have been twenty-four in 1870. A printed copy of that census page will be included with this lot.

    On November 11, 2007, Heritage sold at auction (Sale 680, Lot 74189) a similar Earp-signed summons document dated July 23, 1870 (nearly four months later than this one). It sold for $44,812.50. Our current offering is dated earlier, is in pristine condition and is beautifully presented.


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    Auction Dates
    February, 2010
    11th-12th Thursday-Friday
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