Roy Rogers auction fetches $US2.9 million


All of the items in the auction of Roy Rogers memorabilia at Christies this week were sold, fetching a total of $US2.9 million.

» More pictures hereand here.

Wrought iron wall medallions: $11,250
Wrought iron wall medallions: $11,250 Buttermilk: $25,000; Bullet: $35,000 Buttermilk: $25,000; Bullet: $35,000
Trigger Jr: $18,750 Trigger Jr: $18,750
Dale's parade saddle: $104,500 Dale’s parade saddle: $104,500
Kelly Bros Diamond Dick pattern spurs: $10,625 Kelly Bros Diamond Dick pattern spurs: $10,625American Eagle plastic saddle: $50,000 American Eagle plastic saddle: $50,000Nudie Taylor boots: $21,250 Nudie Taylor boots: $21,250

The auction included more than 300 iconic lots from Roy Rogers and Dale Evans – the King of the Cowboys and Queen of the West.

Most items sold for prices far in excess of their pre-auction estimates.

On the first day of the sale, Rogers’ mounted horse, Trigger, sold for $US266,500 and the Edward H. Bohlin parade saddle was sold to a British buyer for $US386,500.

Roy’s favorite, and most photographed plastic saddle, the American Eagle, fetched $50,000; a CF Martin acoustic guitar fetched $27,500; two wrought iron wall medallions expected to sell for $200-$300 fetched $11,250; a pair of rare Kelly Bros Diamond Dick pattern spurs overlaid with Navajo silver and mounted with turquoise fetched $10,625.

Among the many pairs of boots sold was a colourful pair attributed to Nudie Taylor which fetched $21,250, far in excess of their pre-auction estimate of $1000 to $2000. A blue gabardine lace-up top made by Nudie for Roy sold for $11,875. The shirt features a Native American theme with embroidered headdresses on the white leather fringe yoke, tomahawks on the sleeves and arrows on the collar and pearl buttoned fringed cuffs, a large embroidered headdress adorns the back, and is embellished with rhinestones throughout.

Another shirt of Roy’s, a brown wool lace-up top featuring a Trigger theme with embroidered horse heads on the suede fringed yoke and back, saddles on the sleeves and spurs on the pearl buttoned cuffs, embellished with rhinestones throughout, fetched $16,250.

The 1946 Willys CJ-2A Jeep known as Nellybelle and used on Roy and Dale’s TV show, fetched $116,500.

A framed photograph of Gene Autrey, with a message from the singing cowboy to Roy written in 1976, fetched $17,500. Its estimate was $300-$500.

Dale’s red and white plastic parade saddle, expected to bring $20,000 to $30,000, sold for $104,500. The saddle was displayed on Dale’s horse Buttermilk in the Branson Museum.

Buttermilk, who died at the age of 31, fetched $25,000, less than his pre-auction estimate of $30,000 to $40,000. Buttermilk was a young colt when he was rescued by a cattle farmer on his way to the slaughterhouse. The farmer bought him from a horse trader and he had been severely abused which resulted in a very unkind demeanor. The new owners quickly began to work with him, and through lots of dedication and care he eventually came around to become a friendly, affectionate and playful horse.

After renaming the bubbly Quarter Horse Soda, Randall introduced Soda to Dale Evans because her movie horse Koko was too much to handle and also resembled Trigger too much. Dale fell in love with Soda and bought him immediately. He was renamed Buttermilk after Dale saw a cloud pattern in the sky that reminded her of the Hoagy Carmichael’s song, “Ole Buttermilk Sky.” Dale rode Buttermilk in almost all of Roy’s movies and in all but six of The Roy Rogers Show television episodes that aired from 1951-57.

A true Quarter Horse, Buttermilk displayed bursts of speed and could outrun Trigger. On the set, Roy asked Dale to please hold Buttermilk back when riding alongside him, since Trigger always had to lead.

The horse Trigger Jr was expected to fetch $30,000 to $50,000 but realised $18,750. Trigger Jr. (1941-1969) was a purebred Tennessee Walking Horse named Allen’s Gold Zephyr who was bred by C. O. Barker of Readyville, Tennessee.

Paul K. Fisher of Souderton, Pennsylvania, who claimed to be the world’s largest breeder and dealer in yellow horses, sold Trigger Jr. to Roy Rogers in 1948 when he was still registered as Allen’s Gold Zephyr. Fisher often took his horses to the Madison Square Garden Rodeo to show or sell and Roy stated that it took him six years to buy Trigger Jr. – finally succeeding after Fisher was forced into a well publicized dispersal sale in 1947.

Trigger Jr. had beautiful conformation and a very stylish way of going. He was perfectly schooled and could accomplish a variety of difficult tricks including high stepping dances – always a crowd pleaser on Roy’s national tours and the perfect protege to Trigger.

Bullet was expected to fetch $10,000 to $15,000 but sold for $35,000. He was an AKA Registered German Shepherd originally given the name of “Bullet Von Berge”. He was billed as the ‘wonder dog’, and made his debut in the Roy Rogers film Spoiler’s of the Plains in 1951, produced by Republic Pictures. Bullet was a regular on The Roy Rogers Show on NBC television from 1951-1957 and CBS from 1961-64. In real life the German Shepherd that played Bullet had the same name, and was also the family’s pet.

“This highly anticipated event brought out thousands of Roy and Dale fans whose emotions and memories flooded our galleries,” said Cathy Elkies, Director of Iconic Collections at Christies.

“We were privileged to handle a collection that resonated so deeply with so many people.”

Linda Kohn and Joseph Sherwood of High Noon Western Americana added: “We were thrilled that the collection has found its way into homes of Roy and Dale fans around the world insuring that their legacy continues. The highlight of the week was the saleroom’s spontaneous round of “Happy Trails” sung at the conclusion of the auction.”

One of Roy and Dale’s nine children, Roy Rogers Jr, said the sale of the Roy Rogers Museum was the most difficult decision for our family to make.

“Dad acknowledged many years ago that if the museum ever became difficult to maintain after he died, then we should let it go. We thought we’d always be able to keep it open, but my dad, smart as he was, knew that some day his fans would get older and they would slowly become unable to travel to Missouri,” Rogers jr said.

Nudie Taylor shirt: $11,875
Nudie Taylor shirt: $11,875Nellybelle: $116,500 Nellybelle: $116,500Lace-up shirt: $16,250 Lace-up shirt: $16,250

“With the economy the way it is, and visitor traffic slowing dramatically, the expenses of operating the museum eventually outweighed the profit. Without being able to break even, we simply couldn’t support it anymore,” he said.

He also spoke of the bond his father had with Trigger. “Dad and Trigger were both young when they started – Trigger was only four years old, and Dad was 26 – and on some level I think they both felt this was the start of something special. Over their years together, they established a bond of trust and mutual respect.

“When Trigger passed, my dad was so distraught he didn’t tell the family for over a year (we didn’t know, because he was kept in another stable off our ranch). I think to him it was like losing a child. He told my mom, ‘I can’t just put him in the ground.’

“He had Trigger beautifully mounted and installed in the museum. A lot of people were upset about that, but I think he made the right choice. Trigger was one of the most popular attractions at the museum,” Rogers Jr said.

» Prices go sky high in Roy Rogers auction
» Roy Rogers’ legendary horse Trigger to go under hammer


Latest research and information from the horse world.

8 thoughts on “Roy Rogers auction fetches $US2.9 million

  • February 13, 2017 at 12:59 am

    I got a rare glass mug and the panflet to his meausem the glass has a horse on it I think my mom got it from his museum a very long time ago she travelled from California to Denver and my grandpa was born in Ohio 1908 he passed in 2005 can someone put me in with a collector who would wanna buy it if so lmk 720 585 1893 thank you

  • August 28, 2018 at 5:06 pm

    My father in law made two plastic saddles for Roy and Dale to use in parades. This was after World II. Wish I would have had the money to buy one for my son, Bernard Thon’s only grandson.

  • January 31, 2019 at 7:34 am

    I can’t believe the prices. I own a concert outfit of Roy’s. It is cream coloured gabardine with black piping, The pants have sequins stitched in a row down the sides. There is also a pair of cream and black cowboy boots that go with it. Roy’s name is attached to a small label on the shirt seam. It was given to me as a gift by a dear friend, a well known singer, who got it from Roy himself. I would like to sell it, as I no longer have room for many of my treasures.

  • May 29, 2019 at 2:10 am

    Hi. I live in Scotland, UK and l have a pair of children’s brown leather Roy Rogers cowboy boots…maybe for a 2-3 year old child. They were sent over as a gift when my uncle was a little boy (now 68). They have been worn but pretty well looked after / polished etc. I just wanted to know if there was an auction company l could mail them too for sale if there was any kind of market for them …..just collecting dust now. Be nice if l could sell them to someone who was really interested in them.

    • August 27, 2019 at 7:26 am

      My father, born 1909, lived down the street in Cincinnati, OH from Roy Rogers and his family. It was a very poor immigrant section of Cincinnati. He said Roy was a nice fellow, as opposed to other fellows his age who beat him up because he was Jewish. He told me this about 50 years ago.

      • March 24, 2021 at 9:50 am

        Great story, Bert. Enjoyed it a lot. Something that most Roy Rogers fans probably never knew. Thanks for posting this for me to stumble on.


  • February 9, 2021 at 3:41 pm

    I own an original Roy Rogers Western Adventure Film, #505 Silver Fox Hunt.
    It is a 33 mm film in the original box.
    Could you recommend a way to put this on the market?
    Thank you.

  • October 13, 2021 at 6:51 pm

    I have volume 1 of dale Evan’s Rodgers and buttermilk milk before it was sent out for copies the draft is hand painted inside the original draft of the book and all the original photos taken for the production of the book is it worth anything.


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