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BarrydBarryd MemberPosts: 202 Member

Wyatt Earp’s ‘Vendetta Ride’ shotgun to sell at Heritage Auctions

By Simon Lindley
2020-01-21
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The shotgun used by legendary Old West lawman Wyatt Earp to kill outlaw ‘Curly Bill’ Brocius will be offered for sale at Heritage Auctions next month.

The shotgun has been described as “one of the great treasures of the Old West”, and comes with a remarkable documented history spanning almost 140 years.

The J. Stevens & Co. Double Barrel Percussion Shotgun will lead an auction of American political and historic artifacts which takes place in Dallas on February 22-23.

“Heritage Auctions has been privileged over the years to offer some marvelous and important relics and artifacts of the Old West, but surely this Wyatt Earp gun stands head and shoulders above them all,” said the auction house.

The J. Stevens & Co. Double Barrel Percussion Shotgun used by Wyatt Earp to kill outlaw ‘Curly Bill’ Brocius in 1882 (Image: Heritage Auctions)

Wyatt Earp (1848 – 1929) was a gambler and lawman who served as a deputy marshal in the notorious town of Tombstone, Arizona.

It was there in 1881, alongside his brothers Virgil and Morgan and close friend Doc Holliday, that he took part in perhaps the most famous gunfight in U.S history at the O.K Corral.

The shoot-out lasted just 30 seconds, and resulted in the deaths of outlaws Billy Clanton, and Tom and Frank McLaury.

The Earp brothers were targeted for revenge following the O.K Coral shoot-out, and on December 28, 1881 Virgil was ambushed and maimed with a shotgun blast that shattered his arm.

Then on the night of March 18, 1882, Morgan Earp was playing pool at the Campbell & Hatch Billiard Parlor in Tombstone when he was shot through a door by an unseen assassin.

Wyatt and his brothers tried to help him, but according to legend Morgan said “Don’t, I can’t stand it. This is the last game of pool I’ll ever play,” and died from his wounds less than an hour later.

When the cowboys accused of the two shootings escaped prosecution, Earp took the law into his own hands and set off with a posse to seek vengeance, on what became known as the ‘Earp Vendetta Ride’.

William ‘Curly Bill’ Brocius (1845 – 1882)

On March 24 the posse came across the cowboy camp in the Whetstone Mountains west of Tombstone, where they encountered nine suspects in Morgan Earp’s murder.

Amongst them was ‘Curly Bill’ Brocius, known as “Arizona’s most famous outlaw”, who was also wanted for robbing two Tombstone stagecoaches just two months earlier.

Brocius fired at Earp with his own shotgun and missed, but when the lawman returned fire his aim was true, and the outlaw was almost cut in two by a round of buckshot to the stomach.

Earp had borrowed the shotgun from his friend Fred Dodge, an undercover Wells Fargo agent sent to Tombstone to investigate stage coach robberies for the company.

After the shoot-out he returned the weapon to Dodge, who continued to use it throughout his 40-year career with the company before retiring in 1917.

In the early 1930s Dodge loaned his shotgun and other items of memorabilia to the Wells Fargo Museum, and when he died in 1938 they were inherited by his son Frank Jr.

Over the years the shotgun has passed through the hands of some of America’s most renowned Old West collectors, including Gerald G. Fox, Jim Earle and Greg Martin.

When Martin sold the weapon to the present consignor in 1984, he wrote:

“The Stevens double-barreled shotgun serial number 927 you recently obtained from me represents one of the most important historical treasures I have ever owned…

“In my opinion the great historical associations, the first-hand accounts, and the impeccable documentation of ownership through the Dodge family make your Stevens shotgun one of the great treasures of the Old West.

“It is a direct link between Wyatt Earp and an era of American lore that is of incalculable importance.”

Now offered for sale for the first time in more than 35 years, the much-storied shotgun will once again attract passionate collectors for whom the Old West remains as vivid as the present day.

In 2014 a Colt .45 revolver reportedly owned by Wyatt Earp during his time in Tombstone, and possibly even carried during the O.K. Corral shoot-out, sold in Scottsdale, Arizona for $225,000.



Barry

Replies

  • earlyagainearlyagain Posts: 7,928 Senior Member
    Above my pay grade.
  • AccipiterAccipiter New Member Posts: 895 Senior Member
    If I had the disposable income......you bet.  It would not be a wall hanger either.  I would shoot it.  If I owned one of the Luger .45 acps I would shoot that also.  
    Apparently free thought is punished, and conformity is required, while peckerless cowards run the show.

    ECHO...ECHO....echo...

    Ah......One savors the hypocrisy!

    Karma.........It’s a bitch.
  • Gene LGene L Senior Member Posts: 12,617 Senior Member
    What's with the third trigger?
    Concealed carry is for protection, open carry is for attention.
  • GunNutGunNut Posts: 7,642 Senior Member
    I would LOVE to own that gun, but I am SURE it will sell for far more than I could ever afford.
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 18,145 Senior Member
    Gene L said:
    What's with the third trigger?
    The shotgun has no top lever...the third trigger is how you break it open...
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • Gene LGene L Senior Member Posts: 12,617 Senior Member
    I read percussion shotgun and figured it was a muzzle loader.
    Concealed carry is for protection, open carry is for attention.
  • BarrydBarryd Member Posts: 202 Member
    Jayhawker said:
    Gene L said:
    What's with the third trigger?
    The shotgun has no top lever...the third trigger is how you break it open...

    Thanks, I wondered about that too.
    Barry
  • TugarTugar Senior Member Posts: 2,435 Senior Member
    That is not a nipple. I think they are saying percussion as it has external hammers. Internal hammers existed back then as well. Wish I could bid, it's a rare shotgun to begin with, the history behind it it rare. I would be surprised if it goes for less than $250,000.

    Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.
    Winston Churchill
  • RaftermanRafterman New Member Posts: 346 Member
    Some things belong in a museum, not my safe. Would be cool though.
  • AntonioAntonio Senior Member Posts: 2,986 Senior Member
    Not me even if could afford it since I'd be firing it and that's a no-no for a collection item with such historic background. Hope whoever buys it will lend it to a museum for public exhibition.

    Here's an interesting video about that killing:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Byk58QOwwck
  • BigslugBigslug Senior Member Posts: 9,409 Senior Member
    I hope one of the major museums gets this one.  I've seen a number of firearms that can be linked to persons involved in the Tombstone events, however, as I recall, most of the documentation on them only goes so far as say they were owned by Wyatt, Doc, or whoever, and not what events they were actually present for.  That this IS the shotgun that blew Brocious out of his socks puts it on a little bit higher plane.

    Pretty cool shotgun in its own right.  That triggerguard would probably give a modern gun manufacturer's accountant a stroke, and it looks like the forend is held on by a wedge - more in the style of muzzleloaders - rather than the more familiar under-latch.  A really interesting period for gun designs - we only tend to recognize the major military players or big corporate legends, but there was A LOT going on then - - - -like this thing.
    WWJMBD?

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,429 Senior Member
    Man, if I could just win the Mega Millions! LOL! That would be something to own. However, I would much rather see it go to a Museum than an individual so more people could see it. I'm not an Old West Historian by any stretch but I love history and Wyatt Earp and his brothers made some of the most interesting of it.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
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