Monday, March 8, 2010

Cambridge Cowboy Pays Homage to Gunslingers

by Brittany Picklesimer

Boasting one of the largest collections of cowboy memorabilia in the Eastern United States with 15,000 pieces, Howard Cherry’s favorite pieces of his impressive collection remain the clothes on his back.

Howard owns—and sometimes wears—10 sets of American singer and cowboy actor Roy Rogers’ personal clothing. Howard acquired them through a personal mutual friend, who entrusted them to him after Roy’s death.

Roy Rogers, however, was also responsible for Howard’s initial interest in collecting cowboy memorabilia. Howard and Roy became friends after Roy visited the Hopalong Cassidy Museum in Cambridge, Ohio. Posing for a photograph with Roy, Howard introduced his wife to Roy as “your biggest fan from Ohio.”

“It just developed from there,” says Howard. “My wife and I had the same idol [Roy Rogers] and we didn’t even know it!”

That was 1989. Eight years later, in 1997, Howard retired and opened his shop, 10th Street Antique Mall, which now also houses the Hopalong Cassidy Museum. Through the years, Howard has met hundreds of cowboy stars via various festivals, including the annual Hopalong Cassidy, Gene Autry and Roy Rogers festivals in Cambridge. Dealers, collectors and cowboy stars alike convene at the festivals to buy, sell, meet and greet. The festivals are a profitable avenue for the cowboy stars—and their descendants. Howard estimates that Roy Rogers’s granddaughter earned $2,000 through two afternoons of selling autographed photographs of her grandfather.

The most unique piece of Howard’s collection, however, is worth much more than that. A signed movie poster of Roy Rogers’s first film, Under Western Stars, is worth $16,000. Other pieces of Howard’s collection are worth as much as $25,000. Is it hard, then, for him to let go of such rare and valuable pieces of memorabilia?


Howard has learned to keep pieces in his possession for a period of time before putting them up for sale. Then, once it comes time to sell them, it is no longer hard to sell them because he feels that he has already owned them. After all, he has to make a living.

Then again, as long as he’s got the clothes on his back, a gift from a dear personal friend, he’ll always be a very rich man indeed.

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