The former mayor of Pennsylvania's capital city of Harrisburg spent millions of dollars on artifacts for an Old West museum that was never built. All 10,000 items, including rarities like Wyatt Earp's gun, are being put up for auction.
Thousands of Old West artifacts — including Wells Fargo memorabilia, Teddy Roosevelt's rifle and hundreds of historic firearms — will be sold in Harrisburg at an auction that could produce millions in badly needed revenue for the cash-strapped Pennsylvania 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 also 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.