Civil War Sword Returns to Kentucky

CINCINNATI – Excitement filled Cowan’s auction house in Cincinnati as the presentation sword belonging to Colonel Frank L. Wolford of the 1st Kentucky Cavalry was returned to the state of Kentucky.    The sword was just one of the many items sold during Cowan’s two-day Winter Firearms Auction on November 7 and 8, 2007 that realized over $1.55 million in sales from bidders both in house and on eBay Live Auctions.
 
    According to the auction company, the sword descended directly from Wolford’s family and was originally estimated to sell between $6,000 and $8,000.  However, amid strong bidding, it tripled that estimate and fetched $27,600.  “It is a great looking sword, but people were definitely more interested in the strong history behind it,” said Jack Lewis, Jr. of Cowan’s Auctions. “Wolford was a Civil War hero who, after the war, was a prominent Kentucky politician.”
 
    Colonel Wolford was well-known as a fierce brigade commander. However, during the presentation of the sword on March 10, 1864, controversy ensued as Wolford publicly denounced Lincoln’s mandate to draft African American soldiers in his acceptance speech.  Shortly after, he was arrested and later dismissed from the army.  Unwilling to let the incident keep him down, Wolford went on to become a three-time Kentucky Congressman. Although the identity of the buyer cannot be disclosed, the sword is promised to be on exhibit in a museum for all to enjoy.
 
    Bidders also showed a great deal of interested in a presentation sword that belonged to Lieutenant Charles Hunt of the 5th Maine Battery.  The sword beat its pre-auction estimate of $10,000-$15,000 and sold for $21,850.  The 5th Maine Battery saw a lot of action during the Civil War including the 2nd Battle of Bull Run and Fredericksburg.  Hunt was seriously wounded during the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. The sword was presented to him in April of 1864.  
 
    Another item of interest was the Colt Model 1866 Gatling gun that sold for $155,250.  This particular gun was installed on the USS Yorktown in the late 1800s. The USS Yorktown patrolled the waters of South America and Mexico before WWI and then U.S. coastal waters until the end of the war. The gun was removed from the ship when the USS Yorktown was decommissioned in 1919. This early model is only one of three in known existence. 

Flea Market Bowie & More Encourage Aggressive Bidding

    A J. Lowe Sheffield Bowie knife drew a final bid of $16,100. According to the auction company, the knife was recently discovered in a flea market in the Cincinnati area.  It is engraved with images of dogs and a hunter, a typical motif used to promote hunting in America. 
 
    According to Joe Moran of the Firearms Department at Cowan’s Auctions, a grouping of medals belonging to Lt. General Adna R. Chaffee had some of the crowd on their feet. “When the lot came up there was a flurry of activity and aggressive bidding taking place,” Moran commented. The medals were estimated to sell between $5,000 and $7,000. The winner paid $28,750 for the medals. The group consisted of twelve rare documented medals, ranging from 1842 to 1914. 
 
    Two Henry rifles also drew the interest of bidders.  A presentation Civil War Henry rifle garnered $39,100. Lieutenant Samuel Denton gave the rifle to Dr. Christopher Goodbrake in 1864.  Denton was severely injured in battle and Goodbrake is said to have saved his life.  The other Henry rifle sold for $29,900. It was a second model Henry rifle.
 
    A uniform and sword of New York Lt. Colonel Joseph W. Corning nearly doubled its pre-auction estimate of $8,000 to $10,000 and hammered in at $16,675.

    A rare 1909 Peters chromolithograph calendar brought $7,475. Peters Cartridge Company was located in the Cincinnati area and catered nationally to sportsmen. A campaign hat from 1876 also beat its $8,000 to $12,000 estimate and fetched $12,650.
 
    Cowan’s next Firearms and Early Militaria auction is slated for May 2008.  Consignments are currently being accepted for this sale. Cowan’s Firearms Department will be accepting consignments at the January 2008 Las Vegas Antique Arms Show. For more information please contact Joe Moran, 513-871-1670 ext 27, joe@cowans.com or visit their Web site www.cowanauctions.com.

Auction Highlights:

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$155,250 PAID FOR COLT MODEL 1866 GATLING GUN
Serial number 22. 45/70 caliber, 10 barrel gun complete with1877 style carriage. Brass plaque affixed on breech of cannon reads “Gatling Battery Gun #22 Patented May 3, 1865 by Colt’s Patented Manufacturing Co. Hartford, Conn, U.S.A.” Ten 32″ barrels. Barrels and breech casing are of steel composition and are gunmetal grey. The barrel’s frame is painted black. Grey painted carriage. All metal surfaces of carriage have been painted black. 54.5″ wheel diameter. Pair of ammunition boxes measure 1and 100″ overall length.

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PRESENTATION CIVIL WAR HENRY RIFLE SELLS FOR $39,100
.44 caliber, 24″ octagonal barrel, serial number 4876. 900 yard rear barrel sight, barrel marked Henry’s Patent Oct. 15, 1860, Manufactured by the New Haven Arms Company, New Haven, Ct. Walnut buttstock with swivel on the left side. Brass plaque on the right side of stock with inscription “Nick Denton to Kit Goodbrake.”
 
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MINT 2ND MODEL HENRY RIFLE GARNERS $29,900
.44 rf, 24″ barrel, serial number 7556. Henry markings on the top of barrel.
900 yard rear barrel sight, sling swivels, walnut buttstock. 
 
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$28,750 PAID FOR MEDAL GROUP BELONGING TO LT. GENERAL ADNA R. CHAFFEE, SR.
(1842-1914), consisting of four early society awards verified to General Chaffee, two verified military campaign medals, plus Chaffee’s attributed Military Order of the Carabao (society) Medal. High ranking Spanish-American War Veteran’s medals (unnumbered and not verifiable) with an attributed variant Imperial Order of the Dragon Medal numbered 1005 being an honorary enlisted version of the Military Order of the Dragon. The verified society awards consist of a typical enameled MOLLUS Medal numbered 11698. A beautifully enameled and engraved Society of the Army of Santiago Medal, delicately inscribed, “Maj. Genl./A.R. Chaffee./No. 8./El Canay/July 1, 1898” on reverse. According to the official Quartermaster record, Chaffee received medal No.7. for El Canay. This uncommon society medal is unnumbered and to the best of our knowledge untraceable. The verified military campaign medals include Chaffee’s Army China Campaign Medal No.3 (authorized January 1905) and Philippine Campaign Medal No.2050 (authorized January 1905), both issued to A.R. Chaffee. Rounding out the group are two attributed Spanish-American War veteran’s medals, unnumbered and untraceable.
 
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COL. FRANK L. WOLFORD PRESENTATION SWORD FETCHES $27,600
32″ blade marked “Clauberg” with etched panels of “E.Plumius Unum” and “U.S.” and standing flags. Brass knuckle bow, eagle quillon and pommel that once had an amethyst surrounded by garnets. Silver handle, metal scabbard with ornate fittings and inscription at the throat of scabbard. “Presented to Col. Frank Wolford 1st Ky Cavalry by the Loyal Citizens of Garrard, Kentucky.” 
 
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LT. CHARLES O. HUNT PRESENTATION SWORD SELLS FOR $21,850
Retailed by Schuyler, Hartley & Graham of New York with 32″ blade and silver handle gold plated guard and pommel. Pristine blade is beautifully etched with military figures and vines. Metal scabbard with brown finish and gold washed fittings. The throat of scabbard is engraved, “Lieut. Charles O. Hunt/From The Members of the 5th Bat Maine Vols/April 8th 1864.”
 
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CIVIL WAR UNIFORM AND SWORD OF LT. COLONEL JOSEPH W. CORNING GARNERS $16,675
Comprising Corning’s attributed high-quality cavalry saber by Clauberg, his double-breasted frock coat, dress epaulets as captain, belt rig and rare saddle valise relating to his service in both the 33rd and 111th NY. Plus, Corning’s stencilled campaign trunk in which this material was found. The presentation saber with 32″ blade etched in military motifs has a silver hilt with ornate brass guard and pommel. The plated scabbard boasts high relief gold gilded figures with two carrying rings. Sadly, the sword is missing the applied presentation plate that would divulge its history.
 
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$16,100 PAID FOR J. LOWE SHEFFIELD BOWIE KNIFE
10″ clip-point blade. Engraved with dogs and hunter. Two banners, one of them with the markings Made for Use, and the other marked Great Far West Hunting Knife. Typical motifs were used for promoting hunting in America. Clip-point is 5.5″, overall length 15.5″. Marked at the ricasso with an elephant and “J. Lowe,” and under that is a flying horse with the words “Try Me.” German silver quillon and pommel. Ivory handle. Hand tooled leather scabbard and German silver tip and throat.
 
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MODEL 1876 CAMPAIGN HAT SELLS FOR $12,650
Made of black wool and turned up at the outer edge of the brim, then stitched back on to itself. Brass side ventilators. Complete 1.75″ wide leather sweat band, inside of hat. Maker’s mark inside the dome of hat. Complete with a lemon yellow hat cord and the original silk band at the base of dome.
 
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KENTUCKY FLINTLOCK PISTOL FETCHES $10,925
ca 1790-1810, .54 caliber smooth bore, 8″ octagonal-to-round barrel. Barrel is unmarked. Maker unknown. Maple stock with brass butt cap, triggerguard, and sideplate. Brass inscription plate behind tang, brass ferrules and nosecap. Lockplate is unmarked, the frizzen spring has nice ornamental cuts in it. Maple stock. This cataloger thinks this could be possibly be the work of John Rupp. 
 
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M1840 CAVALRY SABER NAMED TO CHARLES J. SCHULTZ GARNERS $10,350
An imported 36″ German blade marked “PDL” retailed by “Tiffany & Co., New York.” Steel guard, leather handle with wire wrapping. Metal scabbard. Scabbard is stenciled in a fine gold script style lettering at the throat “General G.A. Custer, Michigan Cavalry Brigade.” Then between the carrying rings is “Charles J. Schultz, Co B 5th Mich Cavalry 1861-1865” then listed are the many battles of the 5th Michigan Cavalry all the way up to the surrender of Lee.
 

 

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