Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information
Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Holabird’s High-Grade Auction, June 15th-18th, is named after 19th c. U.S. mining and assaying ore

The sale features mining collectibles, railroadiana, numismatics, Native and general Americana, philatelic, bottles, stocks, bonds, sports, art and more, plus Part II of the Comstock Collection.

RENO, Nev. – After conducting a pair of smaller “specialty” auctions over the last few months, Holabird Western Americana Collections will burst into summer with a huge, four-day High-Grade Auction, June 15th thru 18th, with nearly 2,000 lots of mining collectibles, railroadiana, numismatics, Native and general Americana, philatelic, bottles, stocks, bonds, sports and art.

The premier live auction, which starts each day at 8 am Pacific time, will be held live in the Holabird gallery, located at 3555 Airway Drive (Suite #308) in Reno, as well as online, via,, and Color catalogs are available by calling 1-844-492-2766 or 775-851-1859. Phone and absentee bids will be accepted.

“We chose the name ‘high-grade’ for this auction for two reasons,” said Fred Holabird, president and owner of Holabird Western Americana Collections. “First, it reflects the exceptional quality of many items in the sale; and second, it’s a specific reference to mining and assaying industries, where high-grade ore has the least impurities and the highest concentration of precious metals.”

In particular, Mr. Holabird pointed out, the Mining & Assay section in the sale is spectacular. It will be led by Part II of The Comstock Collection, featuring assay documents and artifacts; rare books and maps; photographs; and a few choice Comstock ingots. Part I of the collection was sold by Holabird in March and featured mining stocks, ore specimens and rare mining checks.

The assay category contains some of the best items Holabird has ever offered, to include rare assay certificates from all Western states (circa 1850-1920); assay books (circa 1848-1900); original assay certificate books for Eberhardt & Aurora Mining Company 1871 (first year); and Gould & Curry Mining Company in Virginia (circa 1860s). Many of these will be in Day 3.

Several categories will be spread across the catalog and won’t be restricted to just one day. The Gold Rush category, for example, will be highlighted by Part I of the Jann Garvis collection, which centers around the blue-lead mining camp of La Porte, in Sierra County. But also offered will be Gold Rush letters, exchanges, assay certificates, mining stocks and antiquarian photos.

Maps will also come up for bid each of the four days, including some great Western directories, pamphlets and individual published maps, most of them very rare. The rarest of them all, though, is the 1860 De Groot Comstock map, perhaps the only copy of the De Groot map in private hands today. It will be accompanied by a major new well-researched story of this legendary map.

Photography lots on days 2, 3 and 4 will include original Arizona hanging scenes on board; early Arizona stereo photos from a major collector; circa 1863-1870 Comstock photos from a major collector; and an original carte de visite of the Ruhling ingot that went to Germany circa 1865.

Antiquarian books will also be spread across days 2, 3 and 4 and will include an ecumenical farce from the 1600s by Sebastiano Chiesa, titled Il Capitolo dei Frati, as well as a major Western assay book collection and Western directories. The Wild West will feature a Wells Fargo agent letter from J. Hume regarding a Montana stage robbery along with ancillary documents, an important discovery from the man who caught the notorious outlaw Black Bart.

Day 1, on Thursday, June 15th, will contain 504 lots of transportation (to include steamer passes, railroadiana and transportation ephemera); militaria and weaponry; and stocks and bonds (to include mining, including the Aurora collection; oil; railroad; and miscellaneous categories).

The mining stocks, especially, will feature an amazing cross-section of Western material, to include Haul Off and Jump Up Mining Company, 1861; early Comstock, including Best & Belcher (a new discovery); early Aurora Mining Company; early Gold Hill (all territorial, pre-1864); and two great Inyo pieces: Russ District 1861 (a new find); and Telescope District 1.

Stocks and bond will include turnpike pieces; autograph pieces; and a major portion of Ken Prag’s 1860s US Oil stock collection – 50 lots in all. The railroad category will feature a continuation of three major railroad pass collections from all across America – 150 lots in all.

Day 2, on Friday, June 16th, will feature 513 lots of art and general Americana (to include geographic sort and miscellaneous categories, to include books, fire and artistic labels).

The selection of vintage fruit/can labels is a continuation of the major Mackenzie collection, with perhaps over 100,000 original vintage labels offered through about 80 lots that have been in hiding for decades. Collectors will also not want to miss the gold badge trio from California.

The slimmed-down (but high-quality) Art section, also on Day 2, will include original Western watercolors and signed prints by major artists one wouldn’t expect. Also up for bid will be an amazing archive from a legal prostitute, the only time anything like this has ever been offered.

Day 3, on Saturday, June 17th, will showcase Native Americana; mining (to include a Western assay collection and ingots; and ephemera, featuring the Comstock photograph collection); and rare vintage and antique bottles (including Colorado medicines).

One of the great Day 3 lots is a new discovery of a gold bullion shipment archive from Virginia City banker Elling to the New York bank of Kountze and subsequently the USAO in New York, circa 1873-1880, with hundreds of pieces – a rare look inside the gold bullion shipment business.

The antiquarian precious metal ingot section on Day 3 is the best such section Holabird has offered in more than a decade. Included are major new (and newsworthy) pieces to the market. Represented are Cripple Creek; Prescott, Ariz.; Hamilton, Nev.; Virginia City; and New York.

Day 3 will also feature Indian and Native American (baskets, pottery, jewelry and more); and antique bottles (possibly the last of the Bracken collection, including Colorado and the Midwest).

Day 4, on Sunday, June 18th, will be loaded with 446 lots of philatelic (including postcards, covers and stamps); sports; and numismatics (currency, ephemera, coins, medals and tokens).

Currency will feature rare US notes and perhaps the best “poker note” collection ever assembled, all from the “legal prostitute” collection – about 30 lots. Also offered will be tons of foreign currency, including some mostly uncirculated pounds from a very old holding.

Then there are the exchanges – an early form of money, with examples from early California and Nevada scattered throughout the catalog. “We are offering one of the best collections ever assembled, with many pieces yet unrecorded from a major holding,” Mr. Holabird said.

The philatelic category boasts great collections and singles from around the world, including the zeppelins; early US; extra-rare facsimile San Francisco poll tax stamps (for revenue collectors); Columbian Expo high denomination singles; and collections of early US regular issues in mint.

Covers are drawn from across the globe, and in a wide variety of types: US advertising covers; early US stamped covers; early world stamped covers; zeppelin covers; and US town cancels.

As with nearly all Holabird auctions, this one will feature a nice cross-section of US and foreign coins. Same for tokens and medals. The postcard section features more from the Ken Prag collection and others – a nice cross-section, with many specific collecting genres split out. There are probably more than 100,000 postcards in the auction. Be sure to check out the boxing cards.

Sports will contain a large offering of vintage baseball cards and the like, circa 1940s-1980s.

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 huge four-day High-Grade Auction, June 15th thru 18th, online and live in the Reno gallery, visit Updates are posted often.

Archive of original gold bullion shipment and receipt records from Virginia City, Montana banker Henry Elling to the Kountze Bank in New York, 1873-1881 (est. $2,500-$6,000).