Bonnie Parker’s Colt pistol heads to auction in Tennessee
A gun discovered on the bullet-riddled body of bank robber Bonnie Parker is expected to sell for more than $125,000
A gun belonging to one of America’s most famous female outlaws is set to auction in Knoxville, Tennessee next month.
Bonnie Parker was one half of the notorious bank-robbing couple Bonnie and Clyde, who became notorious celebrities in the early 1930s as their gang left a trail of robbery and murder across the United States.
Bonnie, along with her lover Clyde Barrow, found their way into American cultural folklore and the pair were viewed by many as heroes in the tradition of Old West outlaws – despite being responsible for the murders of at least nine police officers and numerous civilians.
The couple were finally ambushed and gunned down by police in Louisiana in 1934 – with their bodies apparently so riddled with bullet holes that the undertaker found it difficult to embalm them.
The undertaker in question was Charles Francis ‘Boots’ Bailey, who discovered a semi-automatic .38 caliber Colt pistol on Parkers body whilst stripping it to be embalmed at the Conger Funeral Home. He gave it as a souvenir to 12-year-old Robert Dawson Hightower, the son of his colleague Vern Hightower, who later acquired a legal affidavit which states that the pistol was:
“enfolded in the skirt of Bonnie Parker and discovered in the Embalming room of Conger’s Funeral Home in Arcadia, Louisiana, by the late Mr. Charles Francis Bailey, who was employed at the time by Mr. Ed Conger as an embalmer.”
The gun will be offered for sale at Case Antiques, Auctions and Appraisals along with the affidavit, the six bullets found inside the weapon, and an archive of rather grizzly photographs taken by Bailey’s assistant King Murphy during the autopsy of the couple.
Expectations are high for the pistol, due to the continuing interest in memorabilia relating to the infamous pair. In September 2012, a pair of pistols discovered in the car they were killed in sold at RR Auction for a combined total of $504,000. A Colt Detective Special .38 revolver belonging to Parker brought $264,000, and Clyde Barrow's 1911 Army Colt .45 pistol realized $240,000. The sale also included Barrow’s pocket watch, which sold for $36,000.
Parker’s pistol will be offered with an estimate of $125,000 - $175,000, with the auction taking place on January 25.