December 22, 2008

July 4 1898 dance card bids for $787.77

A very interesting eBay auction finished up on December 22, 2008 for $787.77. I apologize for the poor photographic quality. They came from the seller this way.

An original dance card from the Skaguay, Alaska, First Annual July 4, 1898 Commercial Club Ball.

As you may know, Soapy Smith was instrumental in making the July 4 event a success. As "Captain Jeff Smith," Soapy led his private army, the Skaguay Military Company in the parade that morning. The ball took place that evening.

This is the very first good look I have seen of this item. The only other one I have seen was on page 49 of Martin Itjen's, The Story of the Tour on the Skagway, Alaska Street Car. It only shows the front and back covers and Itjen altered the photo showing a picture of Soapy on his horse, giving rise to the short-lived belief that the photograph of him on his horse may have been taken at an earlier date.

Inside the document is a dance program listing the planned dances for the evening with space for the filling of dance partners for each dance. There are 18 signatures in the card which surely added to the value and might explain why the item sold so well.

On the back cover it appears to read, “from Miss Sperry,” whose husband, Charles B. Sperry headed the Citizen’s Committee to rid Skaguay of Soapy Smith. The other
signatures on the card that relate to Soapy’s history include:

  • J. G. Price” (John G. Price): Skaguay’s first known attorney. Operated several businesses with known members of the Soap Gang.
  • W. Clayson” (Will Clayson): He stated in 1936 that Jesse Murphy killed Soapy, not Reid.
  • Church” (Walter Church): Attorney hired by Soapy in libel suit. Gave speech after July 4 parade.
  • G. Kaufman”: John Stewart placed his gold pouch in the Kaufman store safe.

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