There was a time when no one would have tried to take a gun away from Annie Oakley. One of the most famous women in the Wild West, Oakley was also one of the frontier’s most renowned sharpshooters. She rode with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, where she proved her marksmanship skills on a nightly basis. The famous sharpshooter story became the subject of the famous Irving Berlin musical Annie Get Your Gun and the movie of the same name; there was even a 1954 television show based on her life (fittingly called Annie Oakley). On Sunday, about 100 of the icon’s items were sold at auction, bringing in nearly $520,000 from fans and collectors eager to own some piece of history.
Oakley’s Parker Brothers 12-gauge shotgun garnered the highest price, $143,400, of all the items sold as part of Heritage Auctions’ “Legends of the Wild West” event. Other items of Oakley’s that were included in the lot were several guns, her Stetson hat, photographs and letters. The treasure trove of Americana was put up for sale by Oakley’s great-grandnieces, according to the Associated Press. Tommye Tait and Tanye Holcomb had inherited the items from their mother, Billie Butler Serene, who died in 2009 at the age of 95. They had fond memories of wearing Oakley’s hat on Halloween and engaging in some light target practice with their ancestor’s famed guns.
The familial provenance of the lot of historical gems may have increased the items’ value. At least one fan asked Oakley’s grandnieces to sign his auction catalogue after winning one of the two Marlin .22 caliber rifles that were on the block that day — one sold for $71,700, the other for $83,650. Speaking to the Associate Press, Tom Slater, Director of Historical Auctions for Heritage, said it’s rare for so many pieces with a strong family connection to come on the market.