May 18, 2022 Extraordinary Firearms
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 5/18/2022
Born Alice Ivers in England, the woman who came to be known as "Poker Alice" moved to the United States with her family in 1863, when her father, a schoolmaster, moved the family to Virginia. When silver was found in Colorado and people began to flock to the state, Alice was amongst their number. In Colorado, she met and married a mining engineer named Frank Duffield, and the couple moved to Lake City. During the day, while Frank was in the mines, Alice would amuse herself by playing solitaire and simulating card games that she had seen her husband play when the couple went out. With a little cajoling of her husband (and, by some accounts, a stubborn streak that has flared when Frank doubted her ability to play), Alice took a small amount of money to play faro and, after a series of wins that same night, was playing a $25 limit (approximately $500 today), and consistently winning. From then on, Alice gambled regularly and locals learned to respect her as a formidable opponent. Unfortunately, her husband was abruptly killed in a mining mishap, leaving Alice alone. To provide for herself, she continued to gamble but also began to deal, primarily a faro dealer. Around this time is when she acquired the moniker "Poker Alice" from those whose money she took. Perhaps her greatest moment and most noticeable success was in Silver City, New Mexico, when Alice was playing faro, again at a $25 limit, and winning so consistently that the dealer eventually relented, proclaiming that "the bank is closed". In response, Alice began to deal the table to other clientele, taking their money as well; purportedly, she ended that night with approximately $6,000 in cash, which she used to go on a spending spree in New York. She continued to appear around the frontier towns including Cherokee Strike, where she met Jim Masterson, Heck Thomas, and Bill Tilghman, before she ended up in Creede, Colorado, dealing faro at the infamous "Ford's Exchange". It was here that Bob Ford gave Alice a Hopkins & Allen No. 4 Spur Trigger revolver as a gift for her honesty and straight dealing. This revolver is the first item in this lot offered here; in standard configuration with a partly clipped front sight and simple floral engraving throughout. Critically, the grips are engraved "Alice Duffeild" [sic] on left scale, right marked "From Bob Ford". It is housed in a small period leather holster marked "102 / C /32 / 3" on belt strap and decorated around the perimeter with simple geometrics and florals. After Bob Ford was shot by Ed O. Kelley, Alice left for Bachelor City and then Deadwood. In Deadwood she adopted her trademark cigar (which she called "Jackass Ropes") and met W. George Tubbs, another dealer and local player. While Alice and Tubbs were often at odds, after a situation involving Alice saving Tubbs from an intemperate miner who was lunging for Tubbs with a knife by shooting his would-be assailant, the two courted and eventually married. It was during this time that Tubbs presented Alice with the second item in this lot, her own traveling gambling set. The set has a small plaque inset on the inside of the lid reading "Alice Tubbs" and is well equipped to allow Alice to take money in a variety of games. Contents consists of a small mirror with a woman's portrait on the rear (unlikely to be Alice as she reputedly had blond hair, and the portrait is of a woman with dark hair), leather dice cup, an autogiro, a set of dominos, numerous decks of cards, chips, a faro box, a celluloid game marker, a Brigaid cardholder, a scoring pad decorated with the Ponte alle Grazie, a small leather case filled with dice, an Elgin stopwatch, and various tops. In 1906, Alice and Tubbs bought property west of Sturgis, South Dakota until 1910, when a blizzard dealt Tubbs a hand of pneumonia, killing him in days. She pawned her wedding ring to pay for a proper burial in the freezing earth, before winning enough money to buy it back. Still needing to support herself, she opened her own saloon in 1912, where people could gamble and visit prostitutes upstairs. During this time she was married a third time, again ended by his death after just a few short months. The last famous incident Alice was involved in concerned a group of soldiers from Fort Meade who were attempting to solicit Alice's saloon on Sunday, a day that she refused to work (despite her offerings, Alice was resolute throughout her life that the Sabbath was sacrosanct). Drunk and disorderly, the soldiers attempted to break into the bar, causing Alice to shoot one of them dead. She was arrested but found not guilty by reasons of self-defense and released. She was later arrested again for running a house of ill repute, but was offered a deal wherein she closed the establishment in exchange for clemency; she accepted and retired. Towards the end of her life, needing money for medical expenses, she turned to selling her old revolver and gambling set to John Logan, a postal inspector who played faro with her. Logan himself was expecting a child with his wife, and he offered instead to play her for it; he won. Shortly afterward, Alice died from a gall bladder disease after the surgery proved unsuccessful. Accompanying this set is a letter from Cathy Logan-Small, John Logan's daughter, detailing how her father won the set from Alice and listing the gun by serial number. There is additionally a tintype of one of the prostitutes employed by Alice, and a slot labelled "Picture of Poker Alice in her "20's"", which is vacant and appears to have been so for some time. There are additionally numerous magazines and articles about Alice, and an invoice from Faintich Auction Services dated September 16th, 1998, and a cutout of the catalog featuring the gun. This is an absolutely incredible set and, in this cataloguer's estimation, there are very few items more representative of the Old West. CONDITION: Overall very good. Revolver retains the vast majority of the nickel finish with some spotted oxidation and softened engraving from age. Normal Hopkins & Allen markings, engraving on grips is legible but needs to be rolled in light to see completely. Numbers are matching on interior of frame and inside of grips. Mechanically fine, bore has strong rifling and some frosting throughout. Holster is good, with stitching broken across the back down to the toe, some crazing, and stains. Leather is pliable. Gambling set is also very good, with one crack running across the top joint, and contents appropriately showing age-related distress and some evidence of use. Clasp on front is bent. EMW
Holster, Gambling Set
Barrel Length
.38 RF
FFL Status
Hopkins & Allen
XL No. 4
Folder of Provenance
Serial Number
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $4,000.00
Final prices include buyers premium: $12,000.00
Estimate: $8,000 - $15,000
Number Bids: 11
Auction closed on Wednesday, May 18, 2022.
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