He was a volatile ex-con; she was a lonely waitress. They met in the early 1930s and went on a crime spree that shocked the nation. Boston-based RR Auction will feature rare artifacts from the infamous Bonnie and Clyde.
It’s presented by RR Auction.
(Press Release) BOSTON, MA — Bonnie Parker’s silver-toned three-headed snake ring made by Clyde Barrow is among items belonging to Bonnie and Clyde that will be auctioned by Boston-based RR Auction as part of its "Gangsters, Outlaws and Lawmen" live auction on June 24.
The ring features green and red jewels, crafted for her by Barrow while he was imprisoned in Texas. It was recovered from their disabled vehicle by Sheriff Smoot Schmid after the "Sowers Raid" in 1933.
Although Bonnie and Clyde had robbed jewelry stores during their spree, this ring can be directly attributed to Barrow’s craftsmanship — inside the band is his personal hallmark, a musical note struck by an arrow. Playing music was one of Barrow’s favorite pastimes, and he was famously toting his alto saxophone with his arsenal when he was killed; the arrow in his maker’s mark may be that of Cupid, symbolizing his love for Parker, or representing his last name, (B)arrow.
Both Barrow and his brother Buck were skilled amateur craftsmen, and while in prison they engaged in jewelry-making, leathercraft and woodworking. Among some of the other items known to have been made by Barrow while jailed are a beaded necklace given to his sister Marie, a hand-tooled leather belt with metal studs and blue and red stones, and his own polished silver belt buckle with a five-pointed Texas Star in the center surrounded by abalone shell. The leather belt, belt buckle and this ring all exhibit similar styles of artistic approach and the same level of high-quality, though unrefined, craftsmanship. Barrow likely made this ring with a base metal (probably copper) using the lost-wax casting process, then plated it in silver.
The ring was recovered from the outlaw couple’s bullet-riddled '33 Ford Model B by Schmid, the sheriff, after the "Sowers Raid" on Nov. 22, 1933. Informed of a family gathering that was supposed to take place near Sowers, TX, the Schmid-led posse lay in wait for Barrow and Parker to arrive. As Barrow approached in the stolen automobile, he sensed the trap and accelerated past his family's car, at which point the lawmen unleashed a hail of bullets. Unable to continue in the decimated vehicle, Parker and Barrow were forced flee on foot, successfully escaping despite wounds to their legs from a bullet that passed through the car. The members of the five-man posse — Schmid, Millard E. Sweatt, Ted Hinton, Ed Caster and Bob Alcorn — discovered a cache of Parker and Barrow's personal effects inside the car, and most of them took home a variety of relics ranging from bullets to lipstick cases. This ring is recorded in the Schmid family's inventory as "Bonnie Parker Ring (3 Silver Snakes with Tiny Jewels)."
At the time of her death, Parker was in fact still legally married to Roy Thornton and she famously died with her wedding ring on. She had married Thornton just before her 16th birthday in 1926, but their marriage fell apart and he was in jail by 1929. Parker met Barrow in 1930, and they soon became one of the most infamous couples in American history. Her mother later reflected, "As crazy as she'd been about Roy, she never worshipped him as she did Clyde." Two months after they met, Barrow was arrested and he spent the next two years in prison, including some time at the Eastham Prison Farm.
"He must have crafted this ring for her during that period as a sort of 'promise' ring — they were never officially engaged," said Bobby Livingston, executive vice president at RR Auction.
"The ring represents the enduring relationship between Bonnie and Clyde, and is an absolutely amazing artifact of enormous significance," Livingston said. "It is the closest thing Bonnie and Clyde shared between each other to a wedding ring."
Among the other museum quality pieces to featured:
- Original 1933 Bonnie Parker & Clyde Barrow Arrest Warrants.
- "So Long" letter handwritten to Hamilton by Bonnie and signed by Clyde.
- 1934 Clyde Barrow signed letter with his fingerprints.
- Sheriff "Smoot" Schmid's gold and diamond badge.
Online bidding for the "Gangsters, Outlaws, and Lawmen" auction from RR Auction begins June 15 and will be followed by a live auction to take place at 1 p.m. June 24 at the Royal Sonesta Boston, 40 Edwin Land Blvd., Cambridge, MA. For more information, visit the RR Auction web site (www.rrauction.com).