“Why, Johnny Ringo… you look like somebody just walked over your grave.” – Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday, from the 1993 film Tombstone. Ringo’s legend is inexorably tied to Holliday and his compatriots, the Earp brothers. During the last two years of his life, 1881-1882, Ringo tangled with them multiple times, and it’s suspected that one of them may have gunned him down in the Arizona Territory’s Chiricahua Mountain Range in the summer of 1882. Officially, however, Ringo’s death was ruled a suicide. The Colt SAA revolver that reputedly fired the fatal shot by Ringo’s own hand was listed by serial number in the coroner’s report, and it’s been kept track of perfectly for the last 139 years. Now this well-documented piece of wild west and firearms history is headed to auction.
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Johnny Ringo was no stranger to gunfights and trouble prior to facing off against Earp and Co. In 1875, when he was twenty-five years old, he committed his first murder as part of the “Mason County War” in central Texas. After several small battles, a jailbreak, a re-incarceration, and an acquittal, Ringo left Texas for Tombstone, Arizona. It didn’t take long for trouble to arise there as well, and the belligerent gunslinger drunkenly shot and wounded an unarmed man in a saloon in 1879. He’s suspected of joining the Cochise County Cowboys, a local outlaw gang, in a series of robberies and killings that took place over the next several years. His history with the Earps in 1881-1882 is a famous Old West tale, and this chapter culminated with Ringo’s body being found slumped against a tree on July 14th, 1882, a single gunshot in his head, about thirty miles east of Tombstone. A local rancher reported hearing a single shot the day before, and this Colt SAA revolver was still in Ringo’s cold, lifeless hand. See the Bonhams Auction House website and their official description below for more details.
JOHNNY RINGO’S COLT SINGLE ACTION ARMY REVOLVER FOUND HELD IN HIS HAND WHEN HE WAS FOUND DEAD AT TURKEY CREEK.Serial no. 222 for 1874, .45 caliber, 7 1/4 inch barrel with single line address.US$ 80,000 – 120,000£ 59,000 – 88,000The Early WestThe Collection of Jim and Theresa Earle
27 Aug 2021, 12:00 PDT
JOHNNY RINGO’S COLT SINGLE ACTION ARMY REVOLVER FOUND HELD IN HIS HAND WHEN HE WAS FOUND DEAD AT TURKEY CREEK.
Serial no. 222 for 1874, .45 caliber, 7 1/4 inch barrel with single line address. Doughnut ejector. US mark on left side of frame (partially defaced), Inspectors marks on barrel. Serial number partially visible on frame and triggerguard. Number on cylinder defaced. Condition: Good. Generally no finish with traces of blue on ejector housing balance a brown patina. Toe of left grip missing. Worn grips with no visible inspectors marks. Cylinder possibly replaced. Barrel shortened through wear. A very early martially marked single action.
Provenance: Johnny Ringo, found in his hand in Morse Canyon (mentioned by serial number, containing five cartridges, in inquest document, “Statement for the information of the Coroner and Sheriff of Cochise County, A.T.,” 1882); by descent to Mrs. Prigmore; to Allen Erwin (bill of sale, signed by Erwin and by Mrs. Prigmore’s son Donald Wilson, on her behalf); by descent to Francis Huffstadter (signed Power of Attorney, May 2, 1979; sold European and American Firearms, Sotheby Parke Bernet, Los Angeles, 1980, to Jim and Theresa Earle.