Two guns from one of the most legendary figures of the American West will be auctioned off in Arizona. Wyatt Earp, the man who was immortalized in Wild West folklore for his part in the shootout at OK Corral, is at the center of the upcoming firearms auction. However, one of the guns – a .45-caliber Colt Revolver – is shrouded in as much mystery as the legendary man himself.
The legend of Wyatt Earp
Born at the end of the 19th century, Wyatt Earp came to represent the romanticized idea of the Wild West. Much of that can be traced to the gunfight at OK Corral, in which Wyatt and his brothers joined up with Doc Holliday and engaged in a shootout in Tombstone, Ariz., with the Clanton gang – a notorious group of outlaws. On October 26, 1881, the two groups erupted into a street shootout, leaving two members of the Clanton gang dead and Holliday and Wyatt's two brothers injured. Wyatt himself escaped unharmed.
Ike Clanton tried to file murder charges against Doc Holliday and the Earps but the case was dismissed. In revenge, both of Wyatt's brothers, Morgan and Virgil, were gunned down by unknown attackers. In an attempt to find his brothers' murderers, Wyatt assembled a group of men and searched the town, killing many they thought to be suspects before leaving to avoid the law.
A mysterious gun
Now, more than 130 years later, a gun has surfaced at an Arizona auction that experts claim belonged to Wyatt and was possibly carried into the shootout on that fateful day. The Colt revolver doesn't have a visible serial number, though the auction house claims that x-rays of the piece have revealed one linking the gun to Wyatt. The trouble authenticating the gun is multiplied when one considers that last owner was Earp biographer Glenn Boyer, who has been accused of incorporating fictional elements into his biographies of the famous figure. However, the lot comes with a sworn affidavit claiming the authenticity of the piece.
A Western treasure trove
Also included in this auction is a family research archive that includes tape recordings of interviews with the Earp family and original photographs and handwritten manuscripts belonging to Wyatt and his relatives. This archive is a must have for collectors of western memorabilia.
For a look at western Americana auctions from around the world, visit iCollector.com.