MESA, Ariz. (Reuters) – Roy Rogers’ sterling silver, gold and ruby-studded saddle, which the cowboy movie star claimed as one of his prized possessions, sold together with a harness set for $412,000 at auction late Saturday at a Western collectors show.
An anonymous bidder rode away with the 1931 saddle, bridle and martingale owned by the “King of the Cowboys” after some spirited bidding among 30 collectors, event organizers said.
Another anonymous telephone bidder spent $187,000 for his classic chaps and gauntlets and a third collector paid $61,000 for Rogers’ silver spurs and boot tops.
“There were a lot of people who wanted these items,” said Danny Verrier, a collector who helped with the event in Mesa, Arizona. “These things are one-of-a-kind pieces and people knew that right away and wanted them for their own.”
In all, 30 pieces from the Rogers collection were sold during the 12th High Noon auction and show. An estimated 3,000 people were expected to attend this year’s two-day event.
Other Wild West memorabilia also up for grabs included Tom Mix’s Stetson hat that sold for $2,750, Rex Allen’s engraved Colt .45 gun for $6,050, John Wayne’s jacket from the classic movie “True Grit” for $11,000 and Gary Cooper’s pants from the movie “Dallas” for $440.
“There has been a huge resurgence in cowboy memorabilia, especially among the baby boomers,” said Joseph Sherwood, the show’s co-organizer. “They seem to like the nostalgia, patriotism and values these people came to symbolize.”
But it was the saddle set from Roy Rogers, which cost $20,000 to create and has toured the country beginning in the 1950s, that attracted the most pre-auction buzz.
Sixteen men spent six months creating the saddle, using 1,400 ounces of sterling silver, 136 ounces of gold and hundreds of Czech rubies in the midst of the Great Depression. Rogers bought the items from the original owner’s estate in 1950 for $50,000 after five years of negotiations.
The saddle and related items were sold by Rogers’ heirs to help pay estate taxes as a result of his wife Dale Evans’ death last February, organizers said. Roy Rogers died in July 1998. Their museum in Victorville, California, remains open.