This note arrived today from a friend:
Thought you might be interested to see this private collection of Bob Scriver material for sale on eBay.
I wondered if one of the notes listed in the sale, about an item having been stolen, might have been from you. The author is not stated.
The sale appears to be from a Montana estate.
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This is the answer I sent back:
Uh, oh. This means either that Billy McCurdy badly needs money or that his estate is being distributed. He was about my age (70 +) and these things were from Bob's early life, before I came. Billy helped build the Scriver Museum of Montana Wildlife and later became the "manager" for Woody Herman as well as playing in the band. I always wondered a bit about the personal relationships. Bob's feelings for Billy were quite intense. Bob left him $10,000, which is what he did for each of his grandkids -- his children were dead. No one else inherited cash. I wondered whether he were Bob's son but the timing is wrong. Bob also left Billy his first battered old cornet, but Billy sent it back. I've tried to contact him, but no dice. The last address I had was in Minneapolis.
$20,000 is wildly optimistic in a world where a “Lone Cowboy” like mine (cast probably by Bob and I and patined by me) recently sold for $800. That's eight hundred. I would have guessed the value at $10,000. Auctions are two-edged swords. But if a person were a collector with an eye, well-informed, now would be the time to prepare for the next wave of popularity.
It's not the actual casting of the bison skull that was stolen. There was a guy who cruised the prairie souvenir shops picking up stuff and making molds of it. He made a mold of this skull and sold it far and wide. You can tell his castings because they're slightly squashed and blurred. This was a tourist item and the idea itself was much copied. The most resourceful version was an assortment of skulls and an assortment of birds with screws on the bottom so you mix and match with the skulls. They came in a molded, velvet-lined case. Not a bad idea!
I'd better look for Billy's obit.