Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow’s sawed-off shotgun, Al Capone’s cigarette case, Mickey Cohen’s pinkie ring, and Sam Giancana’s gambling notebooks are among many rare artifacts from the world of crime that will be auctioned off in Boston this weekend.
Online bidding will end Friday at 12 p.m., and Boston-based RR Auction will hold the live sale at the Omni Parker House on Saturday afternoon.
In addition to the sawed-off shotgun, the auction includes a wristwatch that Barrow wore when he died, a bulletproof vest that was recovered from Barrow’s car, and a book of handwritten poems that Parker wrote when she was in jail.
“Featuring a mix of Parker’s original creative compositions and renditions of popular folk ballads, these poems were written by Parker while she was held in Kaufman County Jail, Texas, in 1932, after being arrested for the botched armed robbery of a hardware store,” the auction listing states. “With little to do other than pine for Clyde and chat with her jailer, it is no surprise that Bonnie’s fertile imagination turned to poetry: of the ten poems in this book, five appear to be original compositions, largely drawn from her adventurous life on the road with the Barrow Gang.”
Her black leatherette book includes works titled “The Story of ‘Suicide Sal,’ ” “The Prostitute’s Convention,” “The Hobo’s Last Ride,” “The Fate of Tiger Rose,” (a narrative poem about a “woman of shame, who played a hard game”), and “I’ll Stay,” (Just like the stars in heaven / fling around the moon at nite / I’ll stay with you forever / whether you are wrong or right).
Other items for sale include a mortgage document signed by Capone in 1926; a court document from a federal case against Vito Genovese; a $15,000 check that Boston crime boss Charles “King” Solomon wrote in 1929; and a Christmas card that Sam Giancana addressed to his wife, which he signed using his nickname, “Love, Mooney.”
Capone’s sterling silver cigarette case was a gift from fellow mobster Johnny Torrio. Torrio gave the case to Capone and his wife, Mae, for their wedding anniversary, and he had the case engraved with the words “To Al and Mae, 12-18-29, From John Torrio.”
“Capone came of age under Johnny Torrio in Brooklyn, looking up to him as a mentor while serving as his bodyguard and trusted associate,” the auction listing states. “Shortly after Prohibition began, Torrio summoned Capone to Chicago to act as his lieutenant in a violent effort to corner the market in the bootleg whiskey trade. Fronting as a used furniture dealer, Capone organized a gang of gunmen and began a campaign of terror to drive out the competition. In 1925, Torrio was brutally shot and beaten in retaliation for the murder of rival mobster Dean O’Banion; though Torrio survived and slowly recovered, he made the decision to retire and turned the reigns of his gangland empire over to Al Capone.”
The face of Cohen’s 14K gold pinkie ring features his initials “MC” with a Star of David in the center. The ring is accompanied by a letter of provenance from Jim Smith, who was Cohen’s “longtime right-hand man,” according to the auction listing. “This vintage initial MC ring was one of many items that I took possession of at the time of Mickey Cohen’s death,” Smith wrote in the letter. “In January of 1972 Mickey was released from the Federal Penitentiary. I picked him up from prison and was with him each day for the remainder of his life.”
The sawed-off shotgun that belonged to bank-robbing couple Bonnie and Clyde could fetch upwards of $75,000, according to RR Auction. The Western Field Browning Model 30 shotgun was seized after their shootout with police in Joplin, Mo., in 1933.
Tom De Graff was a detective with the Joplin Police Department who tried to execute a search warrant at the apartment where the outlaws were staying, according to the auction listing.
“In the spring of 1933 while in the company of two other officers, we made an investigation in the south part of Joplin, Missouri at which time we engaged the Barrow brothers in a gun battle,” De Graff wrote in an affidavit, referring to another member of the Barrow Gang — Clyde’s brother, Marvin. “The two officers who accompanied me were killed, I also received a few shots from this shotgun.”
When De Graff left the police department in 1941, he took the shotgun “as a memento of the gun battle,” the auction website states.
Two of Giancana’s personal notebooks are also on the auction block and “offer unique insight into the day-to-day life of the influential gangster.”
Giancana used the notebooks to record his horse race betting activities at Washington Park, Hawthorne Park, and Sportsman’s Park, according to the auction listing.
“All three of these locations—Washington Park, Hawthorne Park, and Sportsman’s Park—were popular Chicago-area horse racing tracks, and these thick betting books attest to the fact that the Chicago Outfit boss was a local fixture,” the auction listing states. “Playing the ponies on a regular basis, he won far more than he lost—a record surely enhanced by his status as the city’s top mob boss (he reportedly kept J. Edgar Hoover at bay by feeding him tips on fixed horse races).”
The “Remarkable Rarities” live auction event from RR Auction will be held at the Omni Parker House at 60 School St. in Boston starting at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. For more information, visit www.rrauction.com.