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    "Wild Bill" Hickok, "Texas Jack" Omohundro, and "Buffalo Bill" Cody: An Imperial-Size Cabinet Card, Circa 1873, of the Stars of "Scouts of the Plains." A 5.5" x 8.5" albumen photo on a 7.5" x 9.75" mount. These three legends of the west are posed in suits around a table staring straight ahead at the camera. Beneath, someone has neatly written the identifications in ink: "Wild Bill./ Texas Jack./ Buffalo Bill W. F. Cody". This was taken during the 1873-1874 tour of the stage play "Scouts of the Plains" through eastern cities. Handed down through the family of the dentist-turned-sharpshooter William F. "Doc" Carver, a friend and contemporary of the subjects of the photo. One of only several examples of this image known. Some light spotting and general aging, primarily to the mount. The image itself is quite sharp and generally clean.

    "Scouts of the Plains": In 1872 Buffalo Bill and Texas Jack were engaged by Ned Buntline to perform in his new play "Scouts of the Prairie," with the first performances in Chicago that December (in a rented theater). Both of these famous scouts adapted well to the stage, reviews were generally good, and theaters were full from Chicago to Cincinnati, New York, Philadelphia, and Boston. After that season they parted ways with Buntline due to financial disagreements. Cody then formed his own troupe, the Buffalo Bill Combination; real Indians were added to the cast for their new "Scouts of the Plains" production as well as a female lead. World famous ballerina Josephine Morlacchi would play "Pale Dove"; she and Texas Jack fell in love and were married shortly before the first performances. Cody and Omohundro decided to invite their old friend Wild Bill Hickok to join them for the 1873-74 season. "Thinking that Wild Bill would be quite an acquisition to the troupe we wrote to him at Springfield Missouri offering him a large salary if he would play with us that winter. He was doing nothing at the time and we thought that he would like to take a trip through the States as he had never been East. Wild Bill accepted our offer and came on to New York though he told us from the start that we could never make an actor out of him. Although he had a fine stage appearance and was a handsome fellow and possessed a good strong voice, yet when he went upon the stage before an audience, it was almost impossible for him to utter a word." (Cody: The Life of Hon. William F. Cody, Known as Buffalo Bill.., 1879, page 329). The theater didn't appeal to Hickok and his acting career didn't last very long. He left before the end of the season and moved back west. This photo originated during that short period of time that the three were together. Buffalo Bill would continue his stage acting career off and on until 1882. The next year he mounted his first "Buffalo Bill's Wild West," a circus-like spectacle that would tour the world for more than twenty years. The rest is history.

    Noted Buffalo Bill authority Paul Fees, after an in-person examination of this photo, has determined that the handwritten ink identifications at the bottom of this photo are in the handwriting of William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody himself. His comments: "...the handwritten identifications on the card of the three men look as if they were written in Buffalo Bill's hand. Besides, Wild Bill and Texas Jack are identified only by nickname while Buffalo Bill is represented by the complete double signature. (The penciled elaborations below were obviously done later and by someone who knew Hickok and Omohundro imperfectly -- their names are misspelled.) To check my impression (and my memory) I went to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center to examine samples of Cody's writing and signatures on letters and documents from the period 1871 to 1875. Besides the overall similarity, there are some unusual and strikingly congruent features -- the "ody" in Cody and the construction of the first B of Buffalo, for instance... Before seeing the picture in person and handling it, I felt 60% or 70% sure that the writing was Cody's. I had a chance to examine the piece in detail and with magnification. The upshot is that I am convinced that the writing is Buffalo Bill's and that the notations were done contemporaneously (or nearly so). The pencil notations below must have been done by Carver or, more likely, one of his descendants. Carver himself had a strong, slanted, and flamboyant penmanship."

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2013
    24th Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
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