1973 John Ford Presents
"Cowboy Kings of Western Fame"
11" X 16" book including 24 color prints by Will Williams of the same size

This is a really neat item of more recent vintage.  Now over thirty years old, the John Ford Cowboy Kings collection is by no means a common item.  Actually, there is a rare limited edition of this collectible, I assume the first edition, where each piece is numbered to 500.  I haven't personally handled the limited edition, though I have come across it online and it appears to be the same as the more common printing (except for the numbering, of course) that I have handled and that is shown on this page.

At the bottom of this page you'll find thumbnail images of each of the blazing 24 color prints by Will Williams, but first I thought we'd approach this interesting collectible from the outside and work our way in:

This is the image found on the outside of the white slipcase which houses the John Ford collection.  Nothing fancy, though the one scanned here also had a black sticker with gold lettering on it from The Nostalgia Shop at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas.
This, and remember it is actually 11" X 17" and cropped here since it's a little too large for my scanner, is the front cover of the John Ford Cowboy Kings book.  In case you cannot read the facsimile signature under the image, that is cowboy legend Tom Mix on the cover.

I'll continue referring to this piece alternatively as both a book and a collection.  It is laid-out for the most part as a book is laid-out, and even contains a notation inside remarking "First hard-cover edition, 1974", and so it technically is a book.  However, we'll soon see it is also a collection.

This is the image of John Ford that appears before the opening text on page 3 (after the title page and copyright page).  Under this illustration of Ford there are two columns of text over three pages but more or less taking up two full pages.  In all, the "book" is six-pages long.
This is what is found after page 6.  The 24 prints, each measuring 11" X 17" are slipped into the inside back cover as shown (that's Harry Carey on top here).  The John Ford illustration is embossed in gold on the sleeve holding them, and the text underneath attributed to Ford reads as follows:

With great pleasure I take pride in introducing this unique portfolio of the 'Cowboy Kings' to you.

I consider myself very fortunate to have known all of these stars personally and I was privileged to direct most of them.

Taking a better look at the prints inside the sleeve, here's John Wayne (also shown below).  Most of the prints have a large head shot like Wayne, but with only one action image lingering below.  The Duke gets two.  Again, due to the size this is cropped, though the next two images will give a little more detail.
Top portion of John Wayne print.  In the upper left corner is the artist's, Will Williams, signature (facsimile, of course).
And here is the bottom portion of the John Wayne print.  Noted in the bottom right corner is "�1973 � WESTERN SERIES, INC.  Hollywood, California U.S.A."
Centered on the reverse side of each of the prints is a brief biography of each Western star.  Again, this is John Wayne.
And at the bottom of the reverse side, too small to be read here, is the following notation: "JOHN FORD'S FAMOUS WESTERN STARS SERIES is published by WESTERN SERIES INC. - P.O. Box ####, Hollywood, California 90028 U.S.A.

Below you'll find a thumbnail image of each of the 24 Cowboy Kings as chosen by John Ford and illustrated by Will Williams.  Click on any thumbnail to see a larger version of the image.  As with the John Wayne image above, each print is cropped because of their size.  When one of the Cowboy Kings' names is linked it is to a full profile page elsewhere on this site.

Bill Elliott

Bob Steele

Buck Jones

Gabby Hayes

Gary Cooper

George O'Brien

Harry Carey

Hoot Gibson

Jimmy Stewart

Joel McCrea

Johnny Mack Brown

John Wayne

Ken Maynard

Leo Carillo

Randolph Scott

Tim McCoy

Tom Keene

Tom Mix

Wallace Beery

Ward Bond

Warner Baxter

William Boyd

William S. Hart

Will Rogers


All text and photos on the site �2002-07 things-and-other-stuff