Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice

    Description

    James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok: Perhaps the Most Important Known Autograph Letter Signed from this Old West Legend.
    This remarkable letter set a world's record $190,400 when it was purchased at auction by the consigner in 2003. Written to his wife Agnes in June 1876 at Omaha, Nebraska, where Hickok was attempting to organize a prospecting expedition to the Black Hills. In furtherance of this scheme, Wild Bill found himself in Deadwood, Dakota Territory, the following month. It was there that he was famously gunned down by Jack McCall as he played poker, by tradition as he was holding what came to be known as the "dead man's hand," aces and eights.

    In this letter Hickok betrays a softer side quite at odds with his familiar image as a gunslinger with more than his share of rough edges. He had courted Agnes since 1871, and they finally wed in March 1876. Still a man much in love, Hickok writes to her three months later:

    "god Bless and Protect Agnes is my Prair (sic). Would I not like to put my big hands on your shoulders and kiss your smile now... One thousand kisses to my wife Agnes From your ever loving Husband.
    JB Hickok
    Wild Bill"
    He playfully adds a postscript below his signature, "By By (sic)."

    This remarkable letter was preserved by Hickok's sister Celinda, who received it from Agnes along with a cover letter in which Agnes wrote that she was sending "his (James's) last letter from Omaha." Celinda survived until 1916, and her papers, unknown to the rest of the family, remained hidden for some 87 years until they surfaced in an important Greg Martin auction. The present letter was the "crown jewel" of that landmark sale.

    "Wild Bill" Hickok's signature is rare in any form, but for the advanced collector of Old West relics this letter is the ultimate exemplar.

    Written in black ink on the stationery of the Metropolitan Hotel in Omaha, it measures 5.5" x 8". Excellent condition, with very minor deterioration along the two horizontal fold lines.




    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2019
    4th-5th Saturday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 11
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,369

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $300,000 (minimum $49), plus 20% of any amount between $300,000 and $3,000,000, plus 12.5% of any amount over $3,000,000 per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    VIEW BENEFITS
    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
      winnings 
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Only 31 days left to consign to the 2019 November 14 - 15 Space Exploration Featuring The Armstrong Family Collection™ Part IV Signature Auction - Dallas!

    Learn about consigning with us

    I don’t often do testimonials but in this case I felt truly obligated to thank Heritage Auctions for the extremely professional job your organization did for me.
    Charlie K.,
    Pittsburgh, PA
    View More Testimonials

    HA.com receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source: Similarweb.com)

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search

    Recent auctions

    2019 July 16 - 18 The Armstrong Family Collection III Space Exploration Signature Auction - Dallas
    2019 July 16 - 18 The Armstrong Family Collection III Space Exploration Signature Auction - Dallas
    REALIZED $4,645,206