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    Personally owned by one of the towering figures in the history of the Old West.

    Chief Sitting Bull: His Personal Pipe with Wonderful Provenance. Blackstone pipe bowl, length 4.75", presented to the famous trick shooter Richard "Diamond Dick" Tanner on a visit to the great chief in the fall of 1889. The pipe is accompanied by a terrific three-page handwritten letter from "Diamond Dick" describing a pilgrimage he made with "Mustang Jack" to seek out the Sioux leader. First they went to Pine Ridge Indian Agency, where they learned that Sitting Bull was at his cabin on Grand River, seventy-five miles north of the agency. A day's journey brought them to their destination just before sunset. The two camped about 100 yards from the cabin, and after supper the chief came out to greet them and invited them into his home. Tanner got off on the right foot by presenting Sitting Bull with a beautiful hunting knife and fancy embossed scabbard, "which appeared to please him greatly." The chief in turn presented them with a beautiful pair of beaded moccasins (Tanner's letter notes that he still had them at that time, although their whereabouts is now unknown). He invited the two visitors to spend the next night in his cabin, but they told him that they preferred to camp near their horses, a priority of which Sitting Bull seemed to approve. As they prepared to leave the next day, they saw Sitting Bull standing in the doorway of his cabin, and so went over to say goodbye to him. As they approached, the chief knocked the fire and ashes out of the pipe he was smoking and presented the bowl to Diamond Dick as a parting gift and token of respect. Tanner's letter concludes with this touching recollection: "As we rode away I looked back and the old fellow still stood in the door. I never dreamed that a little over a year later he would be shot and killed in that very door." (The entire letter may be viewed along with our website presentation of this lot).

    Born in 1869 and raised in Nebraska, Tanner was a long-time Wild West show performer, best remembered for a highly-publicized round trip horseback ride he made from Nebraska to New York City in 1893. He stopped performing around 1905 and, interestingly, went to medical school, got his degree, and became a practicing physician- not surprisingly a flamboyant one who tirelessly promoted his lectures and remedies.

    The letter describing his acquisition of the pipe was penned to a Robert H. Smeltzer, apparently a friend and regular correspondent. This lot is also accompanied by a second longhand letter to Smeltzer, penned six years later, also with fine western content, discussing the beloved pony he rode on his famous 1893 ride to New York and comparing the boom days of Reno, Nevada to current hard times. Also included is a very scarce 4" x 5.5" original photograph of Diamond Dick, inscribed on verso by him to Smeltzer (water stain along left side). Tanner's autograph is rare, and the letters and photo are significant collectibles in their own right. The Sanders Autograph Price Guide values his cut signature at $200, and does not even have a price for either handwritten or signed letters, suggesting that no auction comparables were available. Sanders values a signed photo at $650. For added display appeal, this lot also includes a rare turn-of-the-century cigar box with portrait label of Diamond Dick, in fairly good condition except that the lid is cleanly separated where it was hinged to the box.

    Together with its superb letter of provenance, this pipe bowl is a highly evocative treasure, personally owned by one of the towering figures in the history of the Old West and presented to one its most colorful personalities.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2010
    22nd Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 20
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 3,743

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

    Sold on May 22, 2010 for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
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