During the Great Depression, American society was both economically and politically apathetic. It was a time of great dissatisfaction in the United States of America, the loss of financial potency too difficult to handle. Two individuals who sought to disrupt and profit from the social malaise came to the fore and captured the American imagination. Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow rose to national acclaim in their two year crime spree, thievery, armed robbery and murder being amongst their many crimes. Almost eighty years on, an auction offering the pistols recovered from their bullet ridden bodies on 23 May 1934, following their dramatic shoot-out, has been announced, rekindling the public fascination of these two most infamous criminals. What is unique from any other gun auction is the fact that the lots on offer were personally, even intimately, connected with the pair; Bonnie’s ‘squat gun’, found taped to her inside thigh, is estimated to sell for more than $200,000 alone.
The two guns in question, together with another two guns and various other paraphernalia are being sold by RR Auction in Amherst, New Hampshire on Sunday, 30 September 2012. Online bids for the Colt Model 1911 Government Model Semi-auto .45 Caliber pistol and the Colt Detective Special .38 Caliber revolver, found in Clyde’s waistband and on Bonnie’s inside thigh respectively, will be made available to bidders anxious to acquire these historically important and culturally significant relics.
Clyde’s Colt Model 1911 .45 Caliber pistol Bonnie's Colt .38 Caliber 'Squat gun'
These guns, unlike any other auction of the same type, were directly connected with the notorious pair. Coined the ‘squat gun’, the Colt Detective Special was located strapped on Bonnie’s thigh with tape, the Colt Model 1911 was found in Clyde’s actual waistband. Shortly after they were killed at Bienville Parish, Louisiana, former Texas Ranger Frank Hamer, the leader of a six-man patrol responsible for their deaths, recovered the weapons from their dead bodies.
Included in the lot is a letter written by Frank Hamer, Jr., written on 18 December 1973 in which he describes how the pistol, serial number #164070, was extricated from the “waistband of Clyde Barrow’s trousers the morning that he and Bonnie Parker were killer by my father in Louisiana…this pistol was believed to have been stolen from the federal arsenal in Beaumont, Texas.” In another letter dated 10 December 1979, Frank Hamer, Jr. identifies the revolver carried by Bonnie, rather perversely, on her inside thigh:
“On the morning of May 23, 1934, when my father and the officers with him in Louisiana killed Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker. My father removed this gun from the inside thigh of Bonnie Parker where she had it taped with white, medical, adhesive tape. My father said that one reason she had the gun taped to the inside of her leg was that, in those days, no gentlemen officer would search a woman where she had it taped…Sometime later, my father gave this gun to Buster Davis who had been a Texas Ranger and was, at the time, an FBI Agent.”
Upon discovering the whereabouts of her revolver, Frank Hamer described Bonnie as “’squatting’ on it” In addition to a sixth of the reward money, both weapons were allowed to be kept by Hamer for his part in halting the Barrow Gang and their criminal enterprises. Today, the guns belong to the estate of a wealthy Texan gun collector, Robert E. Davis. When they do eventually go under the hammer, it is expected that each gun will earn between $100,000 and $200,000. In an earlier auction on 21 January 2012, a Winchester shotgun and Thompson sub-machine gun owned by the gang and found at Joplin, Missouri sold for $80,000 and $130,000 respectively. Considering the handguns and their personal connections with the two villains, the value and eventual final sale price is expected to soar beyond all previous estimates. The monetary worth of these items is certainly a key factor in this auction. Perhaps more still is the morbid fascination with items of this nature; death surrounds them, both as instruments of murder and symbols of the macabre.
The gun auctions can be viewed online accordingly (until 30 September 2012):
[Details and links correct as of 19 July 2012]
The previous gun auctions can be viewed online accordingly:
[Details and links correct as of 19 July 2012]
Proxibid, “Bonnie & Clyde Firearm Auction,” www.proxibid.com. Copyright © 2001-2012 Proxibid.
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