The most wanted items from America's most wanted: Gangster artifacts ready for auction block

(CBS News) Amherst, NH - The American Gangster occupies a unique position in popular American culture. So much so, that many are simply referred to with one name, like Capone and Dillinger or Bonnie and Clyde.

Most of the romanticism that surrounds these criminals is a byproduct of the numerous Hollywood films made about their exploits.

This weekend in Amherst, NH 130 rare pieces of gangster memorabilia from the 1920's and 30's will hit the auction block. The items where gathered from various private collectors over the past 8 years.

Veteran auctioneer, Bobby Livingston understands the attraction these items have on the public.

"[W]ith the type of interest we are getting, I would not be surprised [if] this was not a seven figure auction."

One of the items going up for sale, is a musical love letter Al Capone wrote to his wife from Alcatraz,

"Madonna Mia, you are the bloom of the roses you are the charm that proposes, what a sweetheart," wrote Capone.

Also featured are items fold on Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow when they were gunned down by authorities in 1934, ending their bank robbing spree.

The pistol taken from Clyde's waistband when he was killed is expected to be of particular value according to Livingston.

""This is worth more than a hundred thousand dollars, we estimated its worth twice that."

Livingston understands the real value of this collection is the gap it exposes between fantasy and reality.

"These were not glamorous outlaws living high on the hog," says Livingston. "You learn they lived desperate lives."

But when history becomes a commodity, sometimes the bad guys are worth more than the good.

  • Jim Axelrod

    Jim Axelrod is the anchor of the Saturday edition of the "CBS Evening News" and a national correspondent for CBS News, reporting for the "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley" and other CBS News broadcasts.

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