September 12, 2016

Soapy Smith's gamblers travel kit?

(Courtesy of Cam Cogsdill)
(Click image to enlarge)

oapy Smith's gamblers kit?
From the Orleans Club, 1892?

Cam Cogsdill sent me some nice photographs of a gamblers travel kit he believes belonged to Soapy Smith. His email is as follows.
I own a gamblers set that used to belong to Soapy. I have enclosed pictures for your review as I thought you may be interested:

The box is marked on the top:

J.R. Smith

Set Includes:
79 Ivory ioker chips
Card cheater sleeve clip
Engraved Elgin gold pocket watch
Case key
The two revolvers are as follows: Boston Bulldog 1887 – 1899 Defender, 2 1/4″ octagon or round barrel, half-fluted cylinder, mostly with bird’s head grips, 1875 – 1888

Cam Cogsdill

Top level/shelf portion
Ivory chips, watch card hold-out, dice, key
(Courtesy of Cam Cogsdill)
(Click image to enlarge)

I don't know Cam, but I thought his item was intriguing enough to share. I gave him a call and we had a very pleasant conversation. He purchased the item from a family in Virginia, whom he says did not mention "Soapy," that they apparently did not know the name. Cam did a little research and found me. I did express my concerns about the authenticity, as fakery in the old west collecting field has always been a huge problem.

Personally, I always question the authenticity of items like this. It could possibly be real, but I can't say for certain. I do not believe that Soapy would have had this box manufactured for himself, especially considering he was only in Creede, Colorado for around four months. He operated the Tivoli Club in Denver for nearly nine years and thus far nothing like this, engraved with his name and that of his saloon, has surfaced within the family collections, that I know of. However, it is possible that a friend or someone very appreciative of Soapy, could have had this gambler's box personalized as a "thank you" gift.  

He states that he is not interested in selling this item, however, I will be happy to pass along any messages and contact information from those who wish to talk to him.

Top level close-up
Ivory chips, watch card hold-out, dice, key
(Courtesy of Cam Cogsdill)

(Click image to enlarge)


Bottom level/shelf portion
Two pistols
(Courtesy of Cam Cogsdill)

(Click image to enlarge)


The insides

(Courtesy of Cam Cogsdill)

(Click image to enlarge)


"When Soapy was a small child his father would go into Newnan every Saturday and get drunk, and would take Soapy to drive him home. It would make Soapy so mad he would dump his father (who had passed out) in the back of the wagon and whip the mules to go lickedy-split over the rutted road so his father’s head would whack with every bump…."
—Ellen P. Rafeedie


1609: English explorer Henry Hudson sails down what is now known as the Hudson River.
1814: The Battle of North Point is fought in Maryland (War of 1812).
1864: A government supply train of 205 wagons departs Fort Scott, Kansas for Fort Gibson in Indian Territory.
1866: "The Black Crook," known to be the first American burlesque show, opens in New York City.
1873: The first typewriter is sold to the public.
1874: The Battle of Buffalo Waller takes place in Hemphill County, Texas. While delivering dispatches, Billy Dixon, Amos Chapman, and four others, are attacked by nearly 100 Kiowa and Comanche Indians. The men take refuge in a hollow in the ground created by rolling buffalo. They are trapped for three days later suffering one casualty before the military rescues them.
1878: Patent litigation involving the Bell Telephone Company against Western Union Telegraph Company and Elisha Gray begins.
1882: The Tombstone, Arizona Epitaph reports that Johnny Ringo is drunk in Galeyville.

September 11, 2016

The Layman-Odem Revolver from Jeff Smith's Parlor

The Layman-Odem revolver and letter
photo by George Layman
(Click image to enlarge)

he Layman-Odem revolver

Named after owners George Layman and Albert Odem, this artifact was introduced to me by owner George Layman via Larry Zeug, an old friend.

The revolver is a nickled Harrington and Richardson Young America Bulldog. A more complete history of this model can be found at the NRA Museum. Mr. Layman claims the letter and revolver are authentic. This post is not meant to be an authentication or a judgement call, but rather am merely reporting on an interesting story and claim. The letter that comes with the pistol reads as follows.  

This Young America revolver was given to my uncle in 1935 by Willie Neuille. Mr. Neuille got the revolver from a Mr. J. Tanner who owned a hardware store near Skagway and found the gun hanging on a nail behind the bar in the old Jeff Smith’s Parlor saloon around 1911. I owned it ever since my uncle gave it to me during the war.

Albert Odom

The Layman-Odem revolver and letter
photo by George Layman
(Click image to enlarge)

The letter itself is fascinating in itself, including the mention of "J. Tanner," which is most likely vigilante Josias Martin Tanner, who witnessed Soapy Smith's murder on Juneau Wharf on July 8, 1898? The following day he is made a temporary deputy U.S. marshal by Judge Sehlbrede, until the U.S. Marshal agrees and officially swears him in. Tanner did indeed operate a hardware store in Skagway, where it has been reported numerous times that he sold old guns and artifacts that he claimed "once belonged to Soapy." The fact that this revolver came from Tanner may strengthen or weaken the authenticity of the claim that it was "found ... hanging on a nail behind the bar in the old Jeff Smith’s Parlor saloon."

Another question arises with the 1911 date. After Soapy Smith's demise in July 1898, his partners in the saloon business, John and Frank Clancy, took over the saloon until 1899. Until 1900 it was the Sans Souci Restaurant and Oyster Parlor. In the Fall of 1900 the city of Skagway purchased the building to house the fire department's Hook and Ladder Company. The insides of the building were gutted, including the front bar. Martin Itjen purchased the building in 1935 and made it into a museum. "Around 1911," when the revolver was found, the city fire department had already owned the gutted building for a decade. If this story is authentic then there is some important information missing. 

"The class of people who want to get something for nothing are no match for those who give nothing for something. "
The Daily Standard, August 2, 1882


1609: Explorer Henry Hudson sails into what would later be named New York harbor and discovers Manhattan Island and the Hudson River.
1776: A Peace Conference is held between British General Howe and three representatives of the Continental Congress, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Edward Rutledge. The conference fails to reach an accord and the war for independence continues for seven more years.
1777: American forces under General George Washington, carrying the “stars and stripes” (American flag) into battle for the first time, are forced to retreat at the Battle of Brandywine Creek.
1786: The Convention of Annapolis opens with the aim of revising the articles of the Confederation.
1789: Alexander Hamilton is appointed by President George Washington as the first secretary of the treasury.
1814: The U.S. fleet defeats the British Navy in the Battle of Lake Champlain, Vermont during the War of 1812.
1842: 1,400 Mexican troops capture San Antonio, Texas. They retreat, with prisoners.
1857: Indians, incited by Mormon Elder John Lee, kill 120 Arkansas settlers bound for California, in the Mountain Meadows Massacre, Utah Territory. The Mormons persuaded the emigrants that they could freely pass unharmed if they surrendered their arms. The Indians murdered all but 18 children. Twenty years later, on March 3, 1877, Lee would be executed for his part in the murders.
1875: The first comic strip to appear in a newspaper is "Professor Tidwissel's Burglar Alarm," featured in the New York Daily Graphic.
1877: The first comic-character timepiece is patented by the Waterbury watch Company.
1878: Outlaw Billy the Kid spends the night at John Chisum's camp, New Mexico Territory.
1883: The mail chute is patented by James Cutler. The device is first utilized in the Elwood Building in Rochester, New York.
1885: Apache Indian Chief Geronimo, and a small band of Indians, shoot a man cutting poles, murder another in ambush, and murder a teen herding cattle, kidnapping his 11-year-old brother.
1897: A ten-week coal workers strike in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio comes to an end. The workers win an eight-hour workday, semi-monthly pay, and company stores are shut down.
1904: The U.S. battleship Connecticut is launched in New York.
1910: The first commercially successful electric bus line opens in Hollywood, California.