Collectors and auction houses still profit from cowboy art and collectibles.

He was an heroic, romantic figure in his day—but his day has gone. The old-time cowboy of forty years ago is almost an exclusive motion picture figure now,” wrote the Los Angeles Times on September 19, 1922. Thanks to those motion picture figures, the stories of the cowboys became larger than life, elevating a time that was comparatively short in American history to the stuff of legends. One cowboy actor became legendary as well…John Wayne.

Today, artifacts associated with John Wayne are very collectible. On November 18, 2023, commemorative firearms belonging to John Wayne’s son Patrick were featured at Richmond Auctions’ Premier Firearms and Sports-man Auction. Reflecting John Wayne’s popularity, a set of three John Wayne Commemorative Colt Single Action Army Revolvers sold for $51,750. Just seven sets were produced by Colt and presented only to Wayne family members. A pair of Winchester Model 1894 John Wayne Commemorative Lever Action Rifles also sold for $18,400. Part of a limited edition of three hundred rifles, they featured the large loop lever favored by Wayne and had scenes from his movies engraved on their sides.


Two paintings of cowboys on an evening ride over the open range gathered high prices at the Scottsdale auction. Mark Maggiori’s Everlast Sundown captured $93,600 while G. Harvey’s Rancher’s Reward went for $76,050. Courtesy Scottsdale Art Auction


The old-time cowboys the Los Angeles Times referred to in 1922, as well as contemporary cowhands and ranchers, are also popular subjects in Western art. Paintings of American cowboys commanded some of the highest prices at Scottsdale Art Auction’s first online auction on August 26, 2023. It was an iconic painting that captured the highest price at the online auction. Lon Megargee’s The Last Drop from His Stetson, an image found on the liner inside Stetson’s cowboy hats, sold for $105,300.

Mark Maggiori’s Everlast Sun-down, depicting three cowboys riding at sunset, fetched $93,600. The price reflects the popularity of such scenes as well as Maggiori’s growing reputation as a painter. A similar scene by G. Harvey, Rancher’s Reward, hammered down for $76,050. The calm scene shown in Logan Maxwell Hagege’s Pueblo Cowboy, which sold for $49,725, was a marked contrast with Olaf Wieghorst’s Bustin’ Out. In that painting, which sold for $64,350, a cowboy is thrown from his seat on a bucking bronco as both bust through a corral fence. A corral fence is also the support for three cowboys in Howard Post’s Horse Tradin’, which sold for $22,230.


The Last Drop from His Stetson is a familiar image to anyone who has owned a Stetson cowboy hat. This painting, which is used on the lining of the hats, was created by Lon Megargee and sold for $105,300 at the Scottsdale Art Auction. Courtesy Scottsdale Art Auction


The cowboy art at the Scottsdale Art Auction shows the timeless nature of a cowhand’s life, with scenes that could have taken place 100 years ago, or just last week. Similarly, there is something timeless about the appeal of movie Westerns and the popularity of stars like John Wayne, who draw as much interest as they did in their heyday. The 1922 Los Angeles Times article was wrong, the cowboy’s day has not passed.


Logan Maxwell Hagege’s work continues to sell well at auctions, including the Scottsdale Art Auction, where Pueblo Cowboy brought $49,725. A simple scene, it employs the Southwestern themes and strong colors for which Hagege is known.Courtesy Scottsdale Art Auction


Upcoming Auctions

April 12-13, 2024

Scottsdale Art Auction (Scottsdale, AZ) • 480-945-0225

April 30, 2024

The Paul Friedrich Collection of Firearms & Gold Rush

Morphy Auctions (Denver, PA) • 877-968-8880

May 17-19, 2024

Premier Firearms Auction #4091

Rock Island Auctions (Bedford, TX) • 800-238-8022


Olaf Wieghorst captured the action as a cowboy is tossed by a bucking bronco while busting through a fence. Howard Post showed a quieter moment as three cowboys stand by another fence discussing a business transaction. Bustin’ Out brought $64,350 while Horse Tradin’ sold for $22,230 at the Scottsdale Art Auction. Courtesy Scottsdale Art Auction


A set of three revolvers created by Colt for the Wayne family. Each of the revolvers bears the likeness of John Wayne. The set sold for $51,750 at Richmond Auctions’ Premier Firearms and Sportsman Auction. Courtesy Richmond Auctions


A matched set of Winchester rifles (above and below) commemorating John Wayne and his movies sold for $18,400 at the Richmond Auction. Engraved on either side of each were scenes of a stagecoach and a cattle drive, surrounded by the names from his Westerns. Courtesy Richmond Auctions


Gene Autry, another star of movie Westerns, established the Autry Museum of the American West in 1988. This Colt Single Action Army revolver, created for an Autry Museum fundraiser with an image of the museum on its barrel, sold for $13,800 at the Richmond Auction. Courtesy Richmond Auctions

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