Buckskins, Bullets, and Business: A History of Buffalo Bill's Wild West

By Sarah J. Blackstone | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FIVE
PARTNERS AND FRIENDS

The crowd that attended the Wild West exhibition Friday has been variously estimated at from five to twenty-five thousand, but a crowd is one of the most treacherous things to estimate. Good judges, men who have experience in handling crowds, estimate the number to be somewhere between eight and twelve thousand persons. But whatever the crowd was, this much is true, that the management sent out $5,500 in silver via the United States express Friday evening, consigned to the Chatham National Bank in New York. The silver weighed 374 pounds, and the express charges were $22. 1

Although it is known that Nate Salsbury insisted on double-entry account books for the Wild West, these books have disappeared. For this reason it is not possible to list accurate attendance figures or profit margins for any but a few seasons. General attendance figures were listed as a part of each route book, but only four of these survive, and the information includes only the number of performances and the total seating capacity of the grandstand in three of these. When the show was a new entertainment enterprise, overall attendance figures appeared often in the newspapers as a way of charting its success. In later years, occasional articles like the one quoted above appear in the scrapbooks, but few of them are as careful to qualify their estimates as this one. (For instance, press estimates of attendance on opening day at Staten Island in 1888 varied from 15,000 to 30,000.) Some information can be gathered from canceled checks contained in the collections of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center and the University of Oklahoma. 2 The only other information available comes

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Buckskins, Bullets, and Business: A History of Buffalo Bill's Wild West
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • List of Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • INTRODUCTION: FIRST IMPRESSIONS 1
  • Chapter One - HOW TRUTH BECAME FICTION 11
  • Chapter Two - GETTING THE SHOW ON THE ROAD 37
  • Chapter Three - ON WITH THE SHOW 53
  • Chapter Four - THE CONGRESS OF ROUGH RIDERS OF THE WORLD 77
  • Chapter Five - PARTNERS AND FRIENDS 95
  • Chapter Six - MESSAGES AND MEANINGS 103
  • Chapter Seven - FINAL IMPRESSIONS 125
  • Notes 135
  • BIBLIOGRAPHICAL ESSAY 145
  • Index 149
  • About the Author *
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