CALIFORNIA VETERINARIAN’S CIVIL WAR ARTIFACTS INCLUDE NUMEROUS ‘FRESH-TO-MARKET’ TREASURES
As a veterinarian, Bill Bentham was an avid horseman. He became involved in endurance riding in the 1970s as president of the American Endurance Ride Conference, a national organization dedicated to the sport.
When not on a horse, the Oakland, Calif., native and longtime Bay Area resident enjoyed cavalry history – primarily that of the Civil War and Indian Wars, of which he amassed an extensive collection of memorabilia.
Notable pieces in his collection include Eagle Head Cavalry officer’s spurs, a 4th U.S. Cavalry Kepi with insignia, a Union Cavalry shell jacket with yellow piping and fitted for shoulder scales, and a Cavalry saber with named battles engraved on the scabbard. Other treasures include martially marked Colt revolvers, a pre-Civil War Hardee hat, a California Militia “Eureka” belt buckle, a Civil War M1840 medical staff sword, complete with associated epaulettes, and extensive U.S. military mounted accessories, including a pair of Anson Mills Cavalry experimental spurs.
Rarities from the Bentham collection – many never offered to the public before – are part of Heritage’s Arms & Armor, Civil War & Militaria Signature® Auction set for Dec. 6, 2020. “There’s no better time to enjoy ‘fresh-to-market’ collections, which can be said about the Bill Bentham collection,” says David Carde, Heritage Auctions’ arms and armor consignment director. “Including some rare U.S. Cavalry and militaria treasures, which are bound to impress, it’s a great opportunity to own a piece of U.S. history, from the Civil War through World War II.”
In addition to militaria, Bentham’s interests included classic cars; radio-control aircraft; and outdoor activities such as fishing and hunting. “Bill was an animal rescue advocate, a dynamic storyteller and a generous and inclusive friend,” Carde says. “He was the quintessential collector.”
Bentham passed away unexpectedly in February 2020. He was 81.
This article appears in the Winter 2020-2021 edition of The Intelligent Collector magazine. Click here to subscribe to the print edition.