Auctions | June 17, 2013

Famed Harrisburg Collection to be Auctioned by Guernsey’s

New York, New York — Beginning July 15th on Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s lovely City Island, Guernsey’s will be holding an unreserved seven-day auction (July 15 - 21) of the legendary Harrisburg Collection including 8,000 artifacts from the Old West, Early Wars, American Indian Era, Rare Documents and Antique Firearms.  The proceeds from this event will be used to aid the financially-ailing state capitol.  

Beginning in the 1980’s the then Mayor of Harrisburg, Stephen R. Reed, had a vision of a city filled with museums. He reasoned that not only would such a place be culturally stimulating, but it would also bring a massive number of tourists to a city that even then was experiencing financial woes. Although there are varying opinions as to the manner in which the Mayor executed his plan, the fact remains that he spent many millions of dollars of public money to acquire historic artifacts to fill the museums he expected would be built.

One of the institutions he envisioned was indeed built. Today, the handsome National Civil War Museum stands as a testament to his efforts. On the other hand, the other museums that were on the drawing board never were erected; and the thousands of items he acquired to fill those exhibition halls have now languished for years in Harrisburg’s storage facilities. In July, within an open-sided pavilion on beautiful City Island in the middle of the Susquehanna River opposite Harrisburg’s historic district, the massive Collection will be sold.

Although the 8,000 item Collection covers many areas of antiques and rare artifacts, a strong percentage of the items relate to the Old West. The reason why Harrisburg, anchored securely in the eastern U.S., would have a museum focused on the Old West is simple. Early in our nation’s history, pioneers and settlers heading out in directions largely unknown considered Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to be the starting point, the “Gateway to the West”. 

The portions of the Collection that cover the Old West feature rarities relating to such historic figures as Buffalo Bill, Wyatt Earp, Annie Oakley, Jesse James, Wild Bill Hickok and Doc Holliday. Among the American Indian tribes whose works are featured in the sale are Sioux, Cheyenne, Apache, Northern Plains, Blackfoot, Navajo, Comanche and others, along with special collections relating to the Little Big Horn and an important grouping of rare tomahawks. There are more than five hundred historic, vintage firearms including Springfield, Winchester, Smith & Wesson, Remington, Colt, Pruitt Bros., St. Louis, James Brown & Sons and Hopkins & Allen. 

Some of the other Auction categories include Early Wars (the Revolutionary War, Civil War and Indian Wars); rare Swords; Maritime Artifacts; Spanish Colonial Artifacts and Pottery (Tularosa, Mesa Verde, Socorro, Pinto, St. John’s, Anasazi, Jeddito, Puerco); Western Furniture, paintings and bronzes including a 12’ tall contemporary bronze of Remington’s Bronco Buster; a massive Wells Fargo Collection; many full size horse-drawn Wagons; early Games and Gambling Devices; taxidermied figures; and hundreds of examples of rare ephemera including hand-written documents, early maps, photographs and printed material. As if all of the above isn’t enough, there will be many examples of Black Americana, vintage African carvings and a substantial body of items referred to as “Mercantile,” i.e., country store, advertising, etc.

Each of the first six days of the Auction (July 15 - 20) will be devoted to specific categories. To know which categories will appear on which days, bidders should visit Guernsey’s web site - - or go to, a “real time” on line bidding site for those unable to attend in person. All lots will be sold without minimum reserve. The seventh day of the Auction (Sunday, July 21) will be a less structured day where a wide variety of lots will be offered only to those attending the event in person, there will be no internet bidding that day. The Auction will start each morning at 10am and continue through the early evening. 

The entire Collection can be previewed in Harrisburg (at a different site than where the Auction will be held) on Saturday and Sunday, July 13 and 14. Guernsey’s would be delighted to answer any questions from prospective bidders who need only contact Guernsey’s at 212-794-2280 or

For additional information, interested collectors and fans are urged to contact Guernsey’s in New York City 914-882-7356.