Harrisburg’s Wild West Artifacts Headed for Auction Block

The city of Harrisburg may not epitomize a the idea of a frontier town, but former Mayor Stephen Reed amassed thousands of wild west artifacts and antiques for a never-built Wild West Museum.  The city’s new administration is now pulling those items out of storage in anticipation of a high-profile auction this summer. 

President of New York-based Guernsey’s Auctioneers Arlan Ettinger says he’s humbled to have been chosen for the project.  “This is not liquidation, but an offering of treasured items that we’re quite certain will bring in substantial amounts of money,” Ettinger said at a special media preview last week.  But analysts don’t expect the city to recoup the $7.8-million reportedly spent to acquire the artifacts. 

The auction is expected to take place over the course of eight days in mid-July.  “This will be a major event for the city of Harrisburg, and it will have various venues around the city, with the potential to draw thousands of people to our great city,” says current Mayor Linda Thompson.  Details are still being finalized.   

While the items are still in the process of being cataloged, Ettinger expects at least 8,000 lots to span ten categories.  Two of the items sure to attract collectors’ attention are Doc Holliday’s dental kit and Wild Bill Hickok’s gun.  Mayor Thompson says the net proceeds will be used to pay down the cash-strapped capital city’s debt.