A 16 gauge Parker Brothers shotgun once belonging to legendary trick shooter Annie Oakley was sold at auction on Sunday, drawing in $293,000. The shotgun, which had been heavily modified for Oakley during her tour with Buffalo Bill’s “Wild West” show, was sold to an unidentified telephone bidder by Heritage Auctions along with a number of documents providing provenance for the firearm. According to the auction house, the shotgun is almost certainly the firearm Oakley used for her first trick-shooting performances in Europe.
“If you wanted to own an Annie Oakley artifact this is as good as it gets,” Heritage Auction’s Americana expert Tom Slater told NBC News.
Annie Oakley, born Phoebe Ann Moses, is perhaps one of most well-known names of the Old West and among the premier trick shooters of her time. Born in 1860, Oakley would later rise to fame and toured with William Frederick Cody, also known as Buffalo Bill, for his Wild West exposition. Oakley’s trademark move was the “juggling” of a playing card in mid-air with a .22 caliber rifle. Oakley would split the card with a bullet and then proceed to shoot it multiple times before it hit the ground, a feat that requires both quick reflexes and precise aim. In documents obtained by Heritage Auctions, Oakley called the Parker Brothers shotgun her “first real gun.” Oakley later procured a customized version of the 16 gauge for her performances in front of European royalty. At the end of the tour, the shotgun was retired and gifted to her brother-in-law. The gun was again modified to make it a firearm suitable for hunting.
The final bid of $293,000 blew away the expected selling price of the shotgun, which was estimated to be around $81,000 according to the Daily Express. However, as one of the best-documented guns of an American icon, demand for the firearm was high.
“Annie Oakley is remembered as an incredibly talented trick shooter who was [the] star performer with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show,” Slater said. “She was so popular that arguably she made Buffalo Bill’s show famous, not the other way round.”
Oakley is also remembered as a successful actor, philanthropist, and supporter of women’s rights. She continued competing until she passed away in 1926 at the age of 66. Her husband, Frank Butler, who she first met by challenging to a shooting competition, died only 18 days later.
Article Updated 11-26-2013: Despite being listed as a 12 gauge shotgun, the auctioned firearm is actually a 16 gauge Parker Brothers shotgun.