This is an original authentic photograph of Major Gordon William Lillie, known professionally as Pawnee Bill and is thought to be the earliest known photograph of Pawnee to exist. The photograph shows Pawnee Bill wearing his iconic cowboy hat with his infamous mustache and sporting an excellent Native American Indian beaded vest. Pawnee Bill is also wearing tall riding boots and is holding a quirt / bull whip. The photograph is accompanied by excellent provenance as it is displayed in the original Pawnee Bill’s Buffalo Ranch Pawnee, Oklahoma envelope that shows a calling Great American Bison along the center and has a Pawnee Bill’s Indian Trading Post Old Town Pawnee, Oklahoma mail stamp. The envelope is addressed to Dot Vernon of R2 BOX 390 of Watsonville, California. Along with the envelope is a smaller envelope from Pawnee Bill’s Indian Trading Post U.S. Highway No. 64 Pawnee Oklahoma that shows a photograph of Buffalo roaming on the lawn of his trading post with Pawnee Bill on horseback on one side and two Indian Chief’s on the other. This envelope is addressed to Dot Vernon also. All of these pieces are found in a folder marked on the outside, “Dot Vernon was born in Colorado in 1895 was with Pawnee Bill in 1908. Said she was 12 yrs old then so birthday must have been in the late Fall.” Provenance: The piece comes from the personal collection of Dot Vernon. Dot Vernon performed with the Miller’s 101 Ranch Wild West Show, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, Pawnee Bill’s Wild West Show and more. Dot Vernon Bolton, once called “Queen of the Cowgirls” got her start in the Western Show world when she was 12 years old when her family sent her with Pawnee Bill with his Wild West Show, as they were family friends. She later went to England with the 101 Ranch Wild West Show and gave a command performance for the English Royal Family presumably including King George V. She then later toured the US with Barnum & Bailey’s Circus and also with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. This is truly a historic and rare original photograph and is considered to be the earliest known example ever to be brought to public purchase showing a young Pawnee Bill, possibly in one of his first performances. Documented photographs showing the young Pawnee Bill have been shown of him in earlier years, but not as early as this example, such as the cabinet card sold by Heritage Auctions Lot #43077 in their 1/23/2009 sale, the photograph on the site Knightstemplar.org Brother “Pawnee Bill” Frontiersman and Showman, and Legends of America site. The original photograph measures 6 5/8” by 9 1/8”. Large envelope is 8.25”x10.5” and smaller envelope is 4.25”x9.5”. The folder is 7.75”x12.75”.
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Earliest Known Photograph of Pawnee Bill 1800-1900