Posted: Monday, July 14, 2014 1:44 pm |Updated: 1:12 am, Tue Jul 15, 2014.
Bidding on the powder-blue shirt and trousers, hat, holster and Colt sidearms made famous by “The Lone Ranger” television series in the 1950s hit a lull at about $100,000, then took off like a silver bullet, eventually bringing $195,000 for the estate of longtime Waco businessman Robert E. Davis.
The Ranger outfit, worn by actor Clayton Moore when he made appearances as the character after the series ended, highlighted the sale hosted by A&S Auction, attracting buyers from around the state to Waco and from around the country by phone.
When the counting and fast talking had concluded, the “Western Auction” had generated $790,000 for multiple sellers — of which A&S took 20 percent.
“It went very well,” said auctioneer and A&S owner Scott Franks, who had pointed to Saturday’s sale as something special, primarily because of the Lone Ranger memorabilia.
The buyer, a collector from North Texas whom Franks has known for years, prefers to remain unidentified for now.
“He wants to keep it in his main corporate office and just look at it for a while,” Franks said. “Someday, he may not mind his name being made public.”
Davis’ son, Earl Davis, said the family was pleased by the work of A&S Auction and the price his late father’s once-prized possessions captured.
“The sale itself was pretty exciting,” said Davis, who serves as president of the family business founded in 1928, Davis Brothers Publishing.
“The bidding hit $100,000, and the next thing I knew they were saying $105,000, $110,000, $115,000. It was fun to watch,” Davis said.
The proceeds will go to Davis’ mother, Mary Ann Davis, who likely will invest it, Davis said.
Meanwhile, the family is making plans to sell another item the elder Davis acquired in the 1960s — a receipt signed by Col. William B. Travis for coffee, lead for use in firearms and other provisions for the men defending the Alamo in March 1836 from the onslaught of Mexican Gen. Santa Anna.
It will be offered for sale Sept. 17 in Boston, and a reserve bid of $100,000 has been established, “but I’d like to think we can get at least $125,000,” Davis said.
A receipt Travis signed to secure 30 head of beef for the defenders of the Alamo once produced a $170,000 payday for the Davis family.
Other Lone Ranger-related items proved popular at Saturday’s sale.
A small plastic radio crafted by Majestic Radio & Television Co. and bearing the image of the “masked man” sold for $1,600 to Bob Bruning, of Omaha, Nebraska, who also shelled out $1,750 for a Ranger-related silver bullet.
“Clayton Moore, who played the Lone Ranger, would give these .45-caliber bullets to U.S. presidents and to crippled children,” Franks said.
Meanwhile, John Runk, of St. Genevieve, Missouri, called in the winning bid of $8,000 on a single-action Army Colt revolver that had bidders salivating because it was inspected by Orville W. Ainsworth, the first principal subinspector assigned by the War Department to examine products of Colt Firearms.
The gun, which was dubbed the Peacemaker, was heavily used by the U.S. Cavalry during the 1870s, including George Armstrong Custer’s 7th Cavalry Regiment.
A total of more than 450 items found new owners, the list including Western art, spurs, antiques, firearms and novelty items such as old poker chips and playing cards.
Franks said A&S hosts three or four major auctions a year, and he spends the balance of his time contracting to carry out sales for smaller estates.