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Auction of Old West artifacts to be held in Harrisburg

Published On: Jul 15 2013 07:14:17 AM EDT

A spur appears on display at the Wild West auction, in Harrisburg, Pa. Approximately 8,000 items are up for sale. The cash-strapped city is selling the pieces, starting Monday.


Thousands of Old West artifacts will be sold in Harrisburg at an auction that could produce millions in badly needed revenue for the cash-strapped state capital.

The collection was assembled by a former mayor, who hoped to build a museum of the American West in south-central Pennsylvania as part of a plan to attract tourism. The museum idea died and the saddles, guns, gambling devices and other Western memorabilia have been kept in storage for the better part of a decade.

Auctioneer Guernsey's organized the collection by type, and the bidding gets underway Monday with items classified as mercantile, advertising, vintage clothing and the like.

It continues through Sunday on City Island, a city-owned property on the Susquehanna River that is home to Harrisburg's minor league baseball team.

Along with Western material, the sale also includes African objects purchased for a different museum that also was never built, a large number of documents linked to U.S. presidents and other historical figures, Spanish colonial pieces and random other items.

Because Harrisburg is under a state receivership and teetering on the brink of bankruptcy thanks largely to having hundreds of millions of dollars in debt tied to a trash incinerator, officials say a judge may have the final word in deciding how the sale proceeds are spent.