Lot 404: .38 Colt Model 1902 Pistol, Bonnie & Clyde

  • SOLD! for $99,450.00.

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  • Low Estimate: $125,000.00
  • High Estimate: $175,000.00
  • Realized: $99,450.00
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Model 1902 Colt, serial number 7362, found enfolded into the outlaw Bonnie Parker’s skirt at the Conger Funeral Home embalming room of Arcadia, LA in 1934. Letter of authentication dated 5/15/1972, signed by James Lavelle Wade (Sept. 28, 1886 – Dec. 17th, 1972), coroner in charge of the “Bonnie & Clyde” death investigation and signer of death certificates, and by Mrs. Alwyn (Vern) Hightower, employee of Conger Funeral Home. Affidavit witness signatures include Mrs. Ed Conger, wife of the Conger Funeral Home director, and retired Judge P. E. Brown, Second Judicial District Court of Louisiana, serving 1954-1969. Letter of Authentication is notarized by Violet L. Turner. On May 23, 1934, law enforcement officers ambushed outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow as they drove through Biennville Parish, Louisiana. The Conger Furniture Store/Funeral Home received the bodies after the shootout. The affidavit states the weapon was “enfolded in the skirt of Bonnie Parker and discovered in the Embalming room of Conger’s Funeral Home in Arcadia, Louisiana, by the late Mr. Charles Francis Bailey, who was employed at the time by Mr. Ed Conger as an embalmer.” The following day (5/24/34), Bailey gave the weapon as a souvenir to Mrs. Alwyn Hightower’s son, Dr. Robert Dawson Hightower, M.D. (b.1921-d.1973). Dr. Hightower served as a Naval Aviator in WWII, earning the Navy Air Medal with 2 Gold Stars and later as an Associate Professor of Orthopedics, LSU Medical School, Shreveport, LA, and passed this weapon down to his only child, the present consignor. This lot also includes six bullets found in the pistol and a photo archive of pictures taken by King Murphy, Mr. Bailey’s assistant and amateur photographer. Additionally, a Colt Manufacturing Company letter accompanies this lot stating the Model 1902 Colt was shipped to Simmons Hardware Company in St. Louis, Missouri on August 22, 1904 with a total shipment of 15 guns of this type. Additional items in the archive includes a 1973 offer letter for the gun and various newspapers referencing the 50th anniversary of the death of Bonnie & Clyde. The dated August 1973 letter from Peter Simon of Jean, Nevada offers to “purchase the gun, the book of actual pictures, and any other memorabilia….” Dr. Robert Hightower died October 27th, 1973. The letter also has handwritten notes from Dr. Hightower’s wife, “Before Dad died he had me write… Bob, this fellow wanted to buy the Clyde & Bonnie gun etc. I called him but I never did call and give him a price for I didn’t know what to charge– If you ever decided to do so you might call + give him a price if he is still there — The value may go up with time but it could go down for new people don’t even remember them— Thought I’d pass this on — It’s yours now to do as you wish — I love you Mother”. The gift of this weapon from the embalmer, Charles Bailey, to the young Dr. Hightower in 1934 was significant when one considers the rarity and expense of the Sporting Model 1902 pistol even at the time the gift was bestowed. It is especially significant when one considers the average pay of an embalmer working in rural Louisiana during the Great Depression. Specifications on the Colt Model 1902 (Sporting) Automatic Pistol: Caliber- 38 rimless, smokeless, 7 shot magazine, 6? barrel, magazine marked PAt’D SEPT. 9, 1884, hard rubber grips with molded checkering, the rampant colt design, and the name COLT at the top of the grips. Produced in 1904 with a total production of approximately 7500. Standard weight 2 pounds, 3 ounces. Condition: Colt pistol has aftermarket nickel finish but appears to retain the original factory grips. Minor oxidation to nickel finish. There are no records indicating the pistol has been disassembled or cleaned since acquisition in 1934, chamber verified as clear. Photograph album with toning to pages; photographs glued down.