Vintage Photo with Medals for Sharpshooting - c1882
Vintage original matte finish photograph of Annie Oakley from the Culver Archives, her chest adorned with medals from her many sharpshooter competitions during Buffalo Bill Cody‘s Wild West Shows. It is believed that all medals were destroyed after her death. Unsigned in fine condition, 3″ x 4″ mounted to light brown card with various markings from Culver Pictures on reverse.
Annie Oakley (1860-1926), born Phoebe Ann Mosey, was an American sharpshooter and exhibition shooter. Oakley’s amazing talent and timely rise to fame led to a starring role in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, which propelled her to become the first American female superstar.
Using a .22 caliber rifle at 90 feet (27 m), Oakley reputedly could split a playing card edge-on and put five or six more holes in it before it touched the ground. Annie began hunting at age nine to support her siblings and her widowed mother. She sold the hunting game for money to locals in Greenville, as well as restaurants and hotels in southern Ohio. Her skill eventually paid off the mortgage on her mother’s farm when Annie was 15.
Oakley soon became well known throughout the region. During the spring of 1881, the Baughman and Butler shooting act was being performed in Cincinnati. Traveling show marksman and former dog trainer Francis E. Butler, an Irish immigrant, placed a $100 bet per side (roughly equivalent to $2,000 in today’s money) with Cincinnati hotel owner Jack Frost, that Butler, age 31, could beat any local fancy shooter. The hotelier arranged a shooting match with Oakley, age 21, to be held in ten days in a small town near Greenville, Ohio. After missing his 25th shot, Butler lost the match and the bet, but he began courting Oakley, and they married on June 20, 1882.
Oakley continued to set records into her 60s, and she also engaged in extensive, albeit quiet, philanthropy for women’s rights and other causes, including the support of specific young women that she knew. She embarked on a comeback and intended to star in a feature-length silent movie. In a 1922 shooting contest in Pinehurst, North Carolina, sixty-two-year-old Oakley hit 100 clay targets from 16 yards (15 m).
Her health declined in 1925 and she died of pernicious anemia in Greenville, Ohio at the age of sixty-six in 1926.