Debt-ridden Harrisburg to auction Wild West memorabilia

tags: Guardian (UK), auctions, Harrisburg, Wild West, debts



One of the world's largest collections of Wild West memorabilia, including a poker table that belonged to Wyatt Earp and weapons from Custer's Last Stand at the Battle of Little Bighorn, is to be auctioned off next week, to help pay down a Pennsylvania city's burgeoning debts.

A former mayor of Harrisburg, Stephen Reed, amassed the artefacts with a view to displaying them in a museum he wanted to build, in order to draw in history-seeking visitors and help revitalise the fortunes of the economically depressed city. But with Harrisburg's debts passing $370m, city leaders voted to put the collection under the hammer. The auction represents an attempt to recover $8m in redevelopment funds that Reed spent on about 10,000 items, during a buying spree in western states.

"Every item you're able to purchase is an investment in our future," said Linda Thompson, the city's new mayor, who is a vocal opponent of Reed's museum project. "These artefacts had been in the city's archives for a very long time. Here we are at that important moment to see what Harrisburg's history looks like and the opportunities ahead."...



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