Single-sided manuscript letter in ink on "Buffalo Bill's Wild West" gilt-embossed headed notepaper, signed as 'Cody' by William F. Cody, aka "Buffalo Bill", to the foot. Dated 30th May 1908. The letter has a clipped corner to the top right, a couple of minor marks, a few old folds and some very faint traces of adhesive to the verso where once likely laid in an album, otherwise it is in very good condition.
"Buck up, never say die" - a superb letter between two of the greatest figures of the American Old West. William F. Cody (1846-1917), known around the world as "Buffalo Bill", became a rider for the legendary Pony Express at the age of fifteen, later serving for the Union during the American Civil War, and then as a civilian scout for the US Army during the Indian Wars, receiving the Medal of Honor in 1872. From his early twenties his fame grew, and he began to take part in popular 'Wild West' variety shows up and down the country. In 1883, Cody founded his own show - "Buffalo Bill's Wild West" - a circus-like touring attraction which incorporated parades, feats of skill and staged races performed by a variety of 'horse-culture' groups including cowboys, American Indians, the US military, and performers from all over the world, with Turks, gauchos, Arabs, Mongols and Georgians all displaying their distinctive horses and colourful costumes. Many notable historical Old West figures also participated, including Calamity Jane, Annie Oakley, and Chief Sitting Bull, who appeared with a band of twenty of his braves. From 1887, Cody began touring throughout Europe to great acclaim, notably performing for Queen Victoria and Pope Leo XIII. In the present letter, he writes to Robert Haslam (1840-1912), aka "Pony Bob", reaching out with an encouraging reaffirmation of friendship, the pair of them now being in their later years: "How are you, I want / to keep in touch with the / few left of the Old Pony Riders.... There is no use in / allowing ourselves to feel / we are growing old - / Buck up, never say die". Haslam, born in London, came to the US as teenager and began working for the Pony Express soon after his arrival, ultimately becoming one of the most famous of its riders, perhaps second only to Cody himself. He is credited with having made the longest round trip of the Pony Express, totally 380 miles, however, his most celebrated ride came in 1861 when he rode 120 miles in 8 hours and 20 minutes while wounded, to carry the message of Abraham Lincoln's Inaugural Address. Cody and Haslam remained firm friends beyond their Pony Express days, collaborating on a variety of other endeavours, most notably accompanying each other on a diplomatic mission to negotiate the surrender of Sitting Bull in December 1890. A rare and evocative letter from one of the most iconic cultural figures of nineteenth-century America.
Stock code: 19664