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    James B. "Wild Bill" Hickok: A Fabulous Pairing of an Unpublished Full Length Tintype Image and the Handwritten, Signed Love Poem Which Accompanied It. This amazing Hickok artifact first appeared in 1986, when it was auctioned by Swann Galleries in New York City. It was purchased by the present consignor at that time and has remained in his collection since. Accompanying this lot is a March 13, 1986, letter of authentication from Joseph G. Rosa, the acknowledged authority on Hickok. According to the Swann's catalog Rosa wrote a total of four letters on this piece, however the consignor has been able to locate only the one reproduced on our website. If the others are found before the auction date, they will be posted on the website, and if located thereafter will be forwarded to the winning bidder.

    The poem is written in pencil by Hickok on the paper liner of the book-style presentation case. It is signed in full "James B. Hickok Springfield, Mo." Whether Hickok actually conceived the poem is unknown, and Rosa speculates that he may have copied it from one of the classics. However, if the poem is not an original composition by Wild Bill, we have not been able to find its source. Hickok has also written his initials "JBH" in pencil on the moiré cloth interior of the case lid.

    The poem reads: "Sadie [or Sadia] Do I love thee go ask The flowers if they Love sweet refreshing Showers, Sadie. [Followed by a patterned design across the page] James B. Hickok, Springfield, Mo.", with seven small dashes underlining "Mo." The poem page measures 2.25" x 3.5" and is in excellent condition with two light damp stains as shown.

    To our knowledge no research has uncovered the identity of "Sadie", but Hickok lived in Springfield from July 1865 through January 1866, and from fall 1872 through spring 1873 (his first departure was occasioned by his shooting former friend Dave Tutt in a face-to-face duel on Market Square, Rosa advises). The poem reinforces Hickok's image as a bit of a raconteur, and also presents an extremely rare full signature (he generally signed "J.B. Hickok").

    The accompanying tintype shows a full-standing view of Hickok. His pose and expression suggest that he wished the photo to make a favorable impression, but almost appears a tad nervous. The image, measuring 1.75" x 3.125", is clear if a bit dark, as often seen in tintypes of this era. It exhibits typical minor wear and soiling and light marks on his right knee and left shin, but is in very good overall condition.

    Original photos of Wild Bill Hickok are of course extremely rare, and this combination of an unpublished tintype with a love poem signed in full, make this one of the most important Hickok items ever to appear in the marketplace. It has been nearly three decades since it was last available for purchase, and the opportunity may never again present itself.

    Original Owner: Fred Kline


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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2014
    14th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 0
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,523

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