1923 Jack Dempsey-Tommy Gibbons Fight Bell
Appraised Value: $5,000 - $7,000
IMAGE: 1 of 6
Appraisal Video: (2:10)
GUEST: On July 4 of 1923, there was a world heavyweight title fight in my hometown of Shelby, Montana. At that time, my father had a tavern in the town, which allowed gambling, and one of Jack Dempsey's trainers got into my father for quite a bit of money, gambling during the time they were there. And then after the fight, the trainer came in and presented this bell to my father, who wasn't real happy at the time. He would have rather had money, but... So he just kept it in the basement for a while, and then later on we hung it behind the bar, and it's kind of a thing in Shelby-- when you go into a bar, you buy a round for the house. And as people would buy a round for the house, we would ring the bell. A lot of people would come from back East and such to see the bell and to have their picture with it.
APPRAISER: We have a picture of you standing underneath the bell. How long was this in the bar?
GUEST: Probably about 60 years.
APPRAISER: Shelby really took off as a town in 1922 when oil was discovered there.
GUEST: Yes, that's correct. They brought in the railroad, yeah.
APPRAISER: In 1923, it was decided, "Let's take advantage of this. We're in the West. Let's get some personalities over here and let's stage this fight." They actually built a 40,000-seat arena out of wood...
GUEST (laughing): Yes, it's amazing, yes.
APPRAISER: ...just for the fight, and then tore it down right afterwards. And basically, they got the fighter of the time-- Jack Dempsey, heavyweight champion. They picked a fighter for him to fight: Tommy Gibbons. We have Jack Dempsey on the left in this photograph, shaking hands with Tommy Gibbons. Tommy Gibbons wasn't very well-known.
GUEST: No, that's true.
APPRAISER: But he put up a pretty decent fight, went 15 rounds.
GUEST: Yes, he did.
APPRAISER: Dempsey retained his championship title and it went into history. And here we have this wonderful bell.
APPRAISER: You very seldom see pieces like this. And what's great is you have great documentation. You have photographs of the bar and you, and we know where this has been for the past 60 or so years.
GUEST: Oh, yes. We sure do.
APPRAISER: At auction, I would estimate it at $5,000 to $7,000. So I know you've heard this bell probably thousands of times. Do you mind if we ring it one more time?
GUEST (chuckling): No, I certainly don't.
APPRAISER (laughing): Okay.
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