Guns once owned by Al Capone, one of the most notorious gangsters in United States history, are to go under the hammer at a California auction.

The mobster's favored .45 automatic pistol is among the haul, which also includes vintage photos, a letter to his son written from Alcatraz, and the bed he shared with his wife at their luxury Florida mansion.

The 174 items on sale in October are a collection entitled "A Century of Notoriety: the Estate of Al Capone," in what auctioneers say "will no doubt go down as one of the most important celebrity auctions in history".

Capone was one of the most feared figures in organised crime during the Prohibition Era, when the sale or production of alcohol was banned in the United States.

He was the boss of the Chicago Outfit, a 1920s gang that overpowered rivals in bootlegging and racketeering with increasingly brutal methods.

These culminated in the 1929 St Valentine's Day Massacre, when seven members of a rival gang were killed.

Capone was never convicted of any violent crime, but jailed for tax evasion, ultimately ending up at Alcatraz, an island fortress off San Francisco.

Auctioneers at the 8 October sale in Sacramento estimate the .45 Colt automatic could fetch up to $150,000, while another pistol owned by the gangster might raise as much as $60,000.

The haul, which also includes a platinum and diamond Patek Philippe pocket watch, is from a collection passed down to Al and Mae Capone's only son, Sonny.

It is currently owned by Diane and Barbara Capone, granddaughters of the infamous crook.