DescriptionAnnie Oakley: Her Stunning and Elegant Charm Bracelet! She was not given to ostentation, but Annie Oakley liked beautiful things. As soon as she and Frank could afford it, they purchased fine china, crystal and cut glass, and sterling silver. Frank indulged Annie with such luxuries as an embroidered silk dressing gown. He also bought jewelry for her. She frequently was photographed with simple post earrings, sometimes with bead necklaces, and often with pins and brooches. The inherent distraction of dangly wrist jewelry for a shooter kept her from wearing bracelets, at least publicly. One rare photograph (see Lot 44014 above) shows her with a simple wrist band and heart.
That makes this wonderful charm bracelet all the more extraordinary. It is, of course, unique. It consists of hinged gold pipes (about 1/8" in diameter) with a spring-blade clasp and safety chain. The inside circumference is 7". From the wrist band and chain hang twelve gold charms. But they are not just charms. Each is a gold coin: one British gold sovereign (c. 7/8" dia.); four British gold half-sovereigns (c. 3/4" dia.); four U.S. five-dollar gold coins (c. 3/4" dia.); and three U.S. $2½ gold coins (c. 1/2" dia.). The oldest coins are an 1873 $5 gold piece and an 1873 half-sovereign; the newest is the sovereign which was first issued in this style in 1887. As charms, they date from 1885 to 1892.
The earliest charm (the 1873 gold coin) was presented to Annie in 1885 by the U.S. Cartridge Company. The others are from friends and family (e.g. Ed and Emily), Wild West companions (e.g. "C. G.", possibly George Crager, Sioux interpreter), from competitive shooters ("Doc" Carver; New Jersey sportsmen Morford, Baldwin, Brockton, and Steele), from admirers (e.g., Henri Journu, Secretary General of France in 1892; and "Miss Mary Blaine"), from Frank, naturally, from Nate Salsbury, and from W. F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody with his initials engraved in imitation of his familiar script, "WFC."
This is not a piece of jewelry that Annie would wear every day, but we now know that she donned it for special occasions. A previous photograph in this auction (Lot 44027) shows her with the treasured charm bracelet on her left wrist. The occasion? The 1919 Valentine's Day Ball at Pinehurst. She danced with the governor of North Carolina that evening and was awarded the prize for best costume.
How precious was the charm bracelet to her? By 1919, the first charms were nearly thirty-five years old; the newest had been given to her twenty-seven years before. During 1917 and 1918 Annie had melted down almost all of her silver and gold medals, cups, and trinkets to buy Liberty Bonds, setting a public example of support for the war effort. So apparently it was not the intrinsic value of the gold (about 1.35 troy ounces) that made her continue to treasure it. The bracelet meant too much to her to part with for several reasons. It provided a sentimental attachment to significant events; it was an emblem of loyalty to the memory of Buffalo Bill and the others; and, it was a beautiful piece of jewelry, tasteful, understated, elegant, and perfectly suited to her sense of herself.
With the bracelet is a selection of family photographs, including a cabinet photo of John Moses with his wife, Laura, and the two eldest children, Elza and Ben. Of particular interest to any students of Annie Oakley is a very rare cabinet photo of her mother, Susan, inscribed on the back to her "dearly beloved daughter, Annie."
The bracelet is in excellent condition: the clasp, the hinge, the safety chain work as if new. It could be worn by any woman now and look as elegant and modern today as it did in 1892. But then, Annie Oakley was a woman ahead of her time.
(PLEASE NOTE: AT THE REQUEST OF THE CONSIGNOR, IF THIS LOT FAILS TO OPEN DURING THE AUCTION BIDDING IT WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE OR OFFERS AFTER THE AUCTION)
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