October 19, 2015

Token from Soapy Smith's Saloon in Mesa, Arizona?

Token from Soapy Smith's Saloon?
Photo courtesy of Holabird Auctions

upposed Soapy Smith token sells for $6,000!

October 4, 2015 Holabirds Autions announces that lot 6008, a token from Soapy Smith's Saloon sold for a final bid of $6,000.00.

Following is the auction description.

Original Soapy Smith saloon token. We wrote a story on it for our American Saloon book a number of years ago. It is the finest known, as far as we know, of the two or three known. Soapy Smith was a saloon operator and a rouffian. He moved to Alaska, where he ran roughshod over the miners in Skagway, and was ultimately killed. He was known as a gangster, and operated in Denver, Creede, and Skagway Alaska. This is unarguably one of the great Arizona tokens and great western saloon tokens.

City: Mesa
State: Arizona
Date: HWAC# 33204
Seller's Estimate: USD 7,000 - 11,000

On September 20, 2015 I saw the auction advertised online. I wrote to them, partly because I have a personal interest in Soapy's history, and partly because I did not wish to see a buyer purchase something they though was related to THE Soapy Smith, and I also didn't wish to see the auction house of Holabird's get a bad reputation. Holabird's did not respond.

About a week later I saw the auction being advertise on eBay and wrote to Holabirds again via eBay. This time they responded with the following.
Sorry we didn't get back to you. Will resolve before it comes up for live auction next week.
They never changed the description wording of the auction.

The problem I had with the auction is that they identified it as being from a saloon of Jefferson Randolph Smith II. There are a few key reasons I do not believe it was related to Jefferson "Soapy" Smith.
  • My great grandfather never called himself "Soapy," except as a threat. His wife, my great grandmother told her children that he did not like the alias of Soapy, used in attacks upon him by the Rocky Mountain News. He never would have named a business of his after his criminal persona.
  • Although Soapy did travel through Arizona there are no records that he stopped in Mesa, a small suburb of Phoenix.
  • There are no records that Soapy opened any businesses in Arizona.

I found an Italian bootblack and made a contract with him to black my boots for twenty-five cents, which seems high unless you saw the boots. But he hardly got himself into action when I felt a light touch on my shoulder and saw Hislop apparently deprecating the performance.

‘It is hardly wise just now’ he said…. I thought he meant that it was a poor investment in view of the fact that the boots would soon be bad as ever. But he explained that the public feeling was very excited and ran high, and that while it did not necessarily follow course that a man was honest because he had dirty boots, on the other hand there was an irresistible presumption that if his boots shone, he must earn his living by questionable methods.
— Samuel H. Graves
president of the White Pass and Yukon Railway
Alias Soapy Smith, p. 556.


1765: The Stamp Act: Congress meets and draws up a declaration of rights and liberties.
1781: British General Charles Lord Cornwallis surrenders to U.S. General George Washington at Yorktown, Virginia. It is the last major battle of the American Revolution.
1859: Denver, Colorado’s first duel, between Richard Whitsett and Park McCure, the latter being shot in the stomach. The following year McClure becomes Denver’s first postmaster.
1869: Construction begins on the Sutro Tunnel, Virginia City, Nevada Territory, a four-mile-long tunnel through the solid rock of the Comstock Lode mining district. The purpose of this new tunnel was to drain water from the mines without need for pumping. The mining companies would also be able to use the tunnel to move men and ore in and out of the mines, greatly reducing transportation costs.
1881: Citizens of Tucson, Arizona Territory demand that the government move all Indians from Arizona to Indian Territory.
1890: The Bowie and Soloman stage in Arizona Territory is robbed.
1901: Outlaw Jim Younger commits suicide by shooting himself in St. Paul, Minnesota.
1928: Charles Siringo, noted cowboy, Texas Ranger, Pinkerton Agent and author dies Los Angeles, California.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for leaving your comment and/or question on my blog. I always read, and will answer all questions left here. Please know that they are greatly appreciated. -Jeff Smith