Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 66: Inscribed Relief Carved Boxing Glove Cane

Auction Date: December 3, 2021

Historic Relief Carved Antique Ivory Boxing Glove Cane Inscribed to Nate Salsbury of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show Fame, From "Tom Thumb" of P.T. Barnum Show Fame with Boxing Gloves

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Estimated Price: $8,000 - $15,000

Historic Relief Carved Antique Ivory Boxing Glove Cane Inscribed to Nate Salsbury of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show Fame, From "Tom Thumb" of P.T. Barnum Show Fame with Boxing Gloves

Manufacturer: None
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Type: Other
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Item Views: 359
Item Interest: Average
Catalog Page: 53
Class: Other
Description:

This interesting cane was presented to Nate Salsbury by "Tom Thumb" in 1872. Salsbury is famous for meeting with William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody in 1882 and coming to an agreement along with Evelyn Booth to start what would become Buffalo Bill's Wild West show. Salsbury would go on to be the manager and vice president of the show for approximately 16 years. In 1872 however, Salsbury was still travelling with his personal comedy troop, The Salsbury Troubadours, which were becoming famous world wide. Around the same time Charles Sherwood Stratton was at the height of his fame, performing various acting and singing roles in P.T. Barnum's travelling shows, in part due to his small stature being a dwarf, but also, as many critics agreed, his immense talent. In these shows, he became known as "General Tom Thumb", a name that would become famous the world over. He was even hosted by President Abraham Lincoln, alongside his new wife, shortly after their marriage in 1863. Arguably Tom Thumbs biggest success was “General Tom Thumb’s Tour Around The World”, a 3-year, groundbreaking tour that began in 1869 and ended in New York on June 22, 1872. It was the first truly global tour by an entertainer traveling exclusively by steam power (railroads & steamships). As this tour ended in the middle of 1872, the same year he presented this cane to Nate Salisbury, it stands to reason that they worked together on this tour, or established a relationship on it (as Salisbury was traveling with his show at the same time), and that this cane would have been presented to Nate on the occasion of the successful completion of this tour. The cane itself has a knob-shaped antique ivory handle relief carved in the shape of a boxing glove with a silver band joining it to the shaft which is inscribed "Presented/to/NATE SALSBURY/by/TOM THUMB/1872" and has floral scroll engraving on the back. The shaft is of varnished, light, springy wood and has a brass ferrule at the tip. Also included are a pair of child size leather boxing gloves. The significance of the boxing gloves and motif of the grip of the cane is unclear. The consignor states that these items were acquired in Sarasota, Florida, the location of The Ringling Circus Museum, and were likely part of that collection at some point.

Rating Definition:

Very fine, the antique ivory and silver showing an attractive slightly aged appearance with a few light handling marks, some scattered minor dings and flakes on the shaft, and attractive antique patina on the brass. A very interesting piece of Wild West show and early American circus history!



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