WILLIAM F. "BUFFALO BILL" CODY - DOCUMENT SIGNED CIRCA 1913 CO-SIGNED BY: GORDON W. "PAWNEE BILL" LILLIE - HFSID 280866
Sale Price $2,040.00
WILLIAM FREDERICK "BUFFALO BILL" CODY and GORDON W. "PAWNEE BILL"
In this rare letter, signed by both William Frederick "Buffalo Bill" Cody and Gordon W. "Pawnee Bill" Lillie, the two Wild West entertainers negotiate printing costs with their printing company for the 1914 season. This letter was probably written in 1913, because their show, Buffalo Bill's Wild West and Pawnee Bill's Far East, didn't survive into 1914. A rare look at the business workings of one of the most successful touring shows of all time!
Typed letter signed "G W Lillie/Mangr" and "W F Cody". Pencil notations on verso in unknown hand.1 page, 8½x11. Addressed to United States Lithograph Co., Cincinnati, Ohio. In this letter, Cody and Lillie agree to "order and purchase from you all our lithographed and printed, pictorial and descriptive advertising matter, excepting dates and small type printed matter, for the season 1913, and, we reserve the option to do the same for the season 1914." It then lists the pricing scale that the two performers were willing to pay. It continues, "Sketches for the various subjects desired to be approved by us. All to be paid for as used. . . . Two seasons shall be allowed us in which to use and pay for the editions we order. No paper will be paid for except such as is authorized to be made by Major Lillie or Col. Cody." Cody and Lillie ran competing Wild West shows. Lillie teamed up with Cody in 1908, renaming their combined show Buffalo Bill's Wild West and Pawnee Bill's Far East. But the waning popularity of the Wild West, which wasn't all that wild anymore, finally caught up to them. The show was seized in Denver, Colorado in 1913 to pay off a $20,000 debt. This letter was probably written in 1913, because Cody and Lillie's partnership dissolved after the Denver fiasco. Lillie became a full-time rancher and Cody continued to perform almost until his death. Buffalo Bill's Wild West, which had run since 1883, was finished. CODY (1846-1917) earned the name "Buffalo Bill" for killing thousands of buffalo as a hired hunter in 1867 and 1868. Cody had begun his Wild West career herding cattle at age nine. Five years later, he became the Pony Express' youngest rider. Throughout the Civil War, Cody worked as a government scout, extracting from life and the West all it had to offer. His western notoriety grew with his adventures, including those during the Sioux War, in which he purportedly fought a duel with Chief Yellow Hand. Cody's theatrical career was launched that same year with his re-enactments of such Indian battles. By 1883, he formed his first Wild West spectacle, becoming a master showman who toured internationally until 1903. In 1893, his Buffalo Bill's Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World show hit its high point during the Columbian Exposition and World's Fair in Chicago. The Wild West, which featured thrilling "battles" between cowboys and Indians and amazing shooting demonstrations by Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley, drew six million paid customers during its five-month run and exceeded $1,000,000 in profits. LILLIE (1860-1942) had traveled west to Oklahoma as a teenager, quickly learning the ways of the Pawnee Indians. By 1879, he was a teacher and a cowboy and had learned the Pawnee language. In 1883, William S. "Buffalo Bill" Cody hired Pawnee Bill, under government stipulations, as interpreter and overseer of the Indians in his show. Lillie liked show business, and, by 1888, he started his own show with his new wife, May Lillie, the Rifle Shot. From that time, he became known as Pawnee Bill, the White Chief of the Pawnee Indians. His show peaked in popularity by 1900, and as the novelty of Wild West shows diminished, Pawnee Bill joined forces with Buffalo Bill (1908). With Cody's death in 1917, Lillie had little interest in carrying on the show. The last of the Wild West frontiersmen, he semi-retired in Oklahoma, where he built Old Town (1930), a Pawnee Indian village and museum in which he displayed many of his souvenirs and mementoes. Although some items were lost in a fire (1944), Pawnee Bill's Trading Post remains in business today. Lightly toned, soiled and creased. Signatures touch. Marks from typewriter ribbon. Staple holes in top left corner. Light tears at right edge. Folded twice horizontally and thrice vertically. Otherwise in fine condition.
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