Antiques PR Publicity Announcements News and Information
Antiques PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Comstock mining collection part 1 for Holabird auction sale

Holabird Western Americana Collections will hold its first live sale since the world record-breaking second (and final) SS Central America shipwreck artifacts auction held March 4-5, online and live in Reno. Virtual catalogs for the SSCA sales are still available on the Holabird website ( and include numerous research essays and articles.

The auction will be held online (via,, and, as well as live in the Holabird gallery located at 3555 Airway Drive (Suite # 308) in Reno, Nev. Color catalogs are available by calling 1-844-492-2766, or 775-851-1859. Start times all four days are 8 am Pacific time. Telephone and absentee bids will be accepted.

Mr. Holabird said that since the auction features Part 1 of what he called “the best Comstock mining collection ever to hit the market,” the auction name was chosen to honor the “Big Bonanza” ore discovery in Virginia City, Nevada in 1873. Part 1 will focus on mining stock certificates, ore specimens, ephemera and publications. Each group contains spectacular items.

The ephemera group features pieces dating back to the very beginning of the Comstock mining rush. These include the following:

• An 1859 mining deed for the Ophir claim, signed by Judge Walsh and mentioning the original discoverers. Holabird is calling it the “Comstock Founding Fathers” mining deed (lot 4204) and it is worthy of an advanced private collection or institutional collection.
• An 1860 illustrated “Wash-Oh!” lettersheet (lot 4205) with a spectacular cartoon highlighting the dangers of mining stock speculation.
• An 1859 letter mentioning some of the first Ore Comstock assays.

The collection also features hundreds of Comstock checks with great rarities, revenue types and key autographs. Included in this group is the Chollar-Potosi RN check with a violet stamp (lot 4151), the rarest of all the Nevada revenue checks.

The ore collection includes high-grade gold and silver specimens from key Comstock mines, including the Crown Point, Chollar, California, Gould & Curry, Hale & Norcross and Ophir mines. Many are from the famous Gottschalk Ore Collection, with original labels.

The stock certificate section is phenomenal, with key autograph pieces and dozens of territorial items, including perhaps the earliest Comstock mining stock ever issued. Also featured are 1870s-1880s stocks from the key major mines, which are often rarer that territorial pieces.

In addition to the Comstock collection, the auction will be supplemented by rarities from the Gary Bracken collection; the Jim and Barbara Sherman Private Western Mining Museum collection; the Joe Elcano Nevada collection; and the Chunlin Zhu mineral collection.

The lifetime collection of Oklahoma lawyer Gary Bracken features a large philatelic component, including U.S. and foreign covers and lettersheets; rare stamps and express covers; and items from the famous 101 Ranch, including a beaded gun belt (lot 4017); Colorado bottles, stocks and ephemera, including a great Baby Doe Tabor archive (lot 1238); and Native American pottery.

A new round of rarities from the Jim and Barbara Sherman Private Western Mining Museum includes artifacts from Western forts in Arizona, New Mexico, Montana and Wyoming; rare 19th century ammunition; antique firearms, including a Confederate revolver and Winchester rifles; and Civil War memorabilia.

A new batch of railroad and steamer passes from a private collection, many featuring wonderful vignettes, are always a huge hit with collectors. A key piece is a Central Pacific pass signed by Collis P. Huntington (lot 1009), one of the “Big Four”.

The numismatics section will highlight a new group of scarce Nevada national banknotes (to include Elko, Ely and Reno); liberty war bonds; U.S. gold coins and coin collections; Nevada and California medals; and more.

The auction will also showcase a major new offering: rare printers’ plates from the American Bank Note Company, plus other engravers. These plates were used for currency as well as stocks and bonds, and have been lotted in both the Stock and Currency sections of the catalog. The collection has never come to market before and should generate excitement among collectors.

Native Americana should be a strong category. In addition to the Bracken collection, the section also includes arrowheads, beadwork and clothing, Sioux peace pipes, cradleboards and jewelry.

In addition to the Comstock collection, the mining and minerals category also includes California assay ephemera, mining documents from Colorado and Montana, mineral and fossil specimens from the Chunlin Zhu collection, and mining artifacts.

General Americana is a broad category, one that will feature a nice group of ephemera from Western states (in particular California, Colorado, Montana and Nevada, to include rare West Coast directories and Gold Rush checks and exchanges; plus sub-categories such as art, jewelry, gaming, political memorabilia and sports (including letters from baseball legend Connie Mack).

Anyone owning a collection that might fit into a Holabird Western Americana Collections auction is encouraged to get in touch. The firm travels throughout the U.S., to see and pick up collections. The company has agents all over America and will travel to inspect most collections.

Holabird Western Americana Collections, LLC is always seeking new and major collections to bring to market. It prides itself as being a major source for selling Americana at the best prices obtainable, having sold more than any other similar company in the past decade alone. The firm will have its entire sales database online soon, at no cost – nearly 200,000 lots sold since 2014.

To consign a single piece or a collection, you may call Fred Holabird at 775-851-1859 or 844-492-2766; or, you can send an e-mail to [email protected]. To learn more about Holabird Western Americana Collections and the four-day Big Bonanza Auction, March 30th-April 2nd, online and live in the Reno gallery, visit

An 1859 mining deed for the Ophir claim, signed by Judge Walsh and mentioning the original discoverers. Holabird is calling it the “Comstock Founding Fathers” deed (est. $5,000-$10,000).