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Signed Biographies Of Wild West Legend Buffalo Bill Up For Auction

They are expected to sell for as much as $2,566. 
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Signed biographies of Wild West legend Buffalo Bill are set to fetch thousands when they go under the hammer later this month.

The two biographies were signed by famous American Civil War soldier and bison hunter William Frederick Cody – better known as Buffalo Bill – and gifted to a bareback horse rider who performed in Bill’s Wild West shows.

The books of the American Old West hero are now being sold by her grandson and are expected to sell for as much as $2,566.

Cody was an American soldier who earned his nickname hunting buffalo to feed the Kansas Pacific Railroad workers following the American Civil War.

He fought against the Confederates in the Civil War between 1863 and 1865 and later founded the circus-like Buffalo Bill’s Wild West shows which toured the US and Europe.

The two signed biographies – written by Bill’s sister Helen Cody Wetmore – are dedicated to Mrs Lilian White, a performer in his Wild West show, and her son, Master White Jnr.

Lilian and her sister Flory were an equestrian act in the late 1800s known as the Humel Sisters, who performed with Barnum and Bailey’s circus.

During a tour of the UK in 1898 the sisters crossed paths with Buffalo Bill, who asked them to join his show.

Duncan White, Lilian’s grandson and the seller of the books, explained that his grandmother and Buffalo Bill had been close friends.

“She and Bill traveled the world together,” he said. “She always said that he was very nice and a good friend.

“He gifted the first book to her in Cardiff in July 1903, and the second one, which is in French, is dedicated to my dad, dated September 29th 1905.”

Both books are inscribed, ‘With the compliments of the subject’ and are signed ‘W. F Cody “Buffalo Bill”’.

They join another book, The Barnum and Bailey Greatest Show on Earth 1897-1898, which details every venue that the circus visited that year. 

The lot of the three books is expected to fetch between $1,283 and $2,566 at Hertfordshire saleroom Hanson Ross’s auction later this month.

Amanda Butler, Director of Operations at Hanson Ross, said the sale of the historic books was ‘very exciting’.

“It has great provenance, coming directly from the White family,” she said.

“We hope it will generate interest both here and across the Atlantic.”

Lilian White toured the world with Buffalo Bill and had three children during her time on the road with him.

When she and her husband eventually returned to the UK, they settled in Runnymeade, Surrey, where they ran a company supplying horse feed until the advent of the motor car put them out of business. 

Lilian passed away in 1964 at the age of 88.

“Living so close to the Thames was nearly the end of these books,” her grandson Duncan added.

“Their bungalow suffered a terrible flood in the late 1940s and that’s when she gave them to me.

“I was the only grandson and she wanted them to stay with the White family name.”

Mr White added that he had hoped to pass the books on to his son, but he had little interest in circus history.

“I’m not sorry to see them go,” he admitted.

“I’m 87. It’s time they went to someone who will appreciate them.”

The books will go under the hammer at Hanson Ross’ Jewelry & Fine Art auction on July 12.Signed biographies of Wild West legend Buffalo 

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