Larry McMurtry was one of the definitive storytellers of twentieth-century Texas. If you read Texas Monthly, it’s likely he needs no introduction, but we’ll offer a brief one anyway: he wrote Lonesome Dove, The Last Picture Show, Terms of Endearment, The Evening Star, and Horseman, Pass By (which was made into the film Hud, starring Paul Newman), among dozens of others, during his five-decade career. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Lonesome Dove and an Academy Award for the Brokeback Mountain screenplay (which he shared with frequent collaborator Diana Ossana). Despite the wide acclaim that made him welcome in any corner of the world, his 84 years ended in 2021 in the same place they began—Archer City, Texas, a small town of fewer than two thousand roughly halfway between Dallas and Lubbock. 

When McMurtry died in 2021, he left an impressive estate. As an enthusiast of literary rarities himself—he owned the iconic Booked Up antiquarian bookstore in Archer City, recently purchased by Chip Gaines—it’s fitting that his treasures should pass into the hands of collectors. And that’s what they’ll do in a sale held by San Antonio–based Vogt Auction that opens on May 29. Whether you’re in the market for items owned by McMurtry or you’d just like a glimpse of the pinball machine, pinstripe suit, and Pulitzer Prize–winning work he kept around the house, take a look at some highlights from the sale in this exclusive preview of the auction catalog.

Note that while all the items listed below come directly from the McMurtry estate, the auction contains several hundred lots that are intended to complement the items that belonged to the author. McMurtry’s possessions are lots #1-300, while the rest—including a number of copies of his novels— are of varying provenance. If you want to make sure you’re bidding on something the author himself owned, check the description to make sure it includes a certificate of authenticity. You can view the full catalog here.

A Cast-Signed Collector’s Edition Set of the Four Books in the Lonesome Dove Saga

Lonesome Dove didn’t just win the Pulitzer—the TV miniseries adaptation, released in 1989, four years after the publication of the novel, also earned seven Emmy Awards. The cast from the series included Robert Duvall, Anjelica Huston, Chris Cooper, and Margo Martindale, all of whom signed the copy of Lonesome Dove included in this set. (Tommy Lee Jones, who co-headlined the series with Duvall, didn’t get his hands on this copy.) McMurtry himself signed all four books. 

This edition of the series was published in limited quantity in 2013 by Connecticut’s Easton Press. Other copies of this edition have gone to auction before; in 2014, a set—signed only by McMurtry—was sold at auction by Christie’s for $5,000. If you’re estimating what the jewel of the auction might be, this is a good place to start. 

A Personalized Bolo Tie

When he and Ossana won the Academy Award for writing the screenplay of Brokeback Mountain, McMurtry wore a bow tie with his tux. It’s a classic choice no one could find fault with, but he clearly had other formal-wear options in his closet, including this vintage bolo tie made of braided brown leather cord. The tie features a bolo slide etched with a depiction of a figure with a snake in its mouth, and McMurtry’s initials are inscribed on the back.

A Western-Style Saddle and a Circa 1901 Colt Single-action Army .45 LC Revolver

McMurtry’s grandfather broke horses for a living, and his father—whom he claimed he wrote Lonesome Dove in “an attempt to understand,” an attempt he said failed—was a cattle rancher. McMurtry spent his lifetime unraveling the mythology of the American West with an unsparing eye. His final novel, 2014’s The Last Kind Words Saloon, was an unsentimental retelling of the oft-depicted legend of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday that was decidedly less heroic than the one seen in Tombstone

And yet the author’s extensive collection of Western artifacts suggests that he also loved the cowboy fantasies he deconstructed. He kept this saddle as part of his estate, and he collected vintage firearms, including the antler-grip revolver from circa 1901. It’s hardly the only antique weapon in the collection, which also includes a circa 1907 rubber-grip Colt, rifles dating as far back as the 1880s and from as far away as Tokyo, and a set of shotguns that includes a pre–World War II Belgian model. The Colt is the expected top prize of the bunch, with an estimated value as high as $3,000, but the mere presence of these items offers a complicated interpretation of McMurtry’s relationship to the cowboy aesthetic he was both fascinated and repelled by. 

Dr Pepper Memorabilia

On the other hand: McMurtry’s appreciation of Dr Pepper appears, like our own, to be uncomplicated. How much of an enthusiast of the Waco-born fizzy concoction was he? He owned a special-edition Dr Pepper watch from renowned American watchmaker Gruen, which manufactured watches from 1894 to 1977. 

That’s hardly the only piece of Dr Pepper ephemera McMurtry collected, however. He kept a copy of the 1979 commemorative book celebrating the soft drink, Dr Pepper: King of Beverages, by company executive Harry E. Ellis. He owned an unopened glass bottle that, based on the logo that appears on the cap, is from 1950 or earlier (perhaps much earlier—the logo didn’t change much in the beverage’s first 65 years). He owned a Dr Pepper cookbook. And a lunchbox! Larry McMurtry loved Dr Pepper. 

Finally, the auction also includes a lot containing 57 empty glass bottles of the soda. When and where are these from? Hard to say—the bottles are glass, but the caps are plastic, rather than the more common metal crowns. The logo on the bottle was first utilized in 1997, but it was replaced in 2005 in the U.S. What will you do with 57 old bottles of soda that Larry McMurtry drank sometime between 18 and 26 years ago? That’s up to you. If you win one of the rifles, you could shoot them! 

One of McMurtry’s Beloved Typewriters

McMurtry did his writing on a Hermes 3000 typewriter. He loved this typewriter; he thanked it during his Academy Award speech, describing it as “one of the noblest instruments of European genius.” Over the course of a fifty-plus-year writing career, McMurtry went through a significant number of these machines—there are eight working Hermes 3000 models in the auction, as well as a lot containing three that McMurtry cannibalized for parts. There are other typewriters in the collection as well—a Hermes Rocket, a smaller model from the manufacturer that dates back to the 1950s, and a Hermes Baby, a compact model from the same Swiss company. There are also a pair of silent typewriters—a Smith-Corona and a Royal, both from the 1950s. Maybe fellow collector Tom Hanks will buy one.

A Signed First-Edition Copy of In a Narrow Grave: Essays on Texas

In addition to his prolific fiction career, McMurtry was also an accomplished essayist. His first collection of this material, released in 1968, was a slim tome first published in a run of just 250 by Austin publisher Encino Press. This edition is copy 94 of 250, with McMurtry’s signature inside. If anything in the auction is going to give the Hollywood-endorsed copy of Lonesome Dove a run for its money, it’s likely to be this impossibly rare early publication.