1876 Gatling gun blasts auction estimate to sell for $282,000 at California sale

$3 million in sales realized

July 11, 2010

A 1876 Gatling Gun on a wheeled carriage, which stood nearly 14 feet long and over four feet high, took honors as the top selling item at Greg Martin Auctions’ June event. Estimated to bring $175,000 – 250,000, the weapon achieved $282,000. The biggest lot in the auction, both in terms of size and the price realized, was purchased by an international telephone bidder.

The Gatling gun (see photos above and right) was extensively marked Including “S. Colt” and “N.J.” and U.S. Ordnance Inspector Stamps, with Limber, and Magazine / Ammunition Chest. Designed by Dr. Richard Gatling and patented in 1862, the Gatling Gun was an early rapid-fire weapon and the first machine gun with reliable loading. The Model 1876 Gatling Gun was built at a significant period of U.S. Government campaigns against hostiles in the West. It was a featured display at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition, at which Dr. Gatling received a medal for his weapon. This is the first time ever that this Gatling Gun has come to auction.

Greg Martin Auctions’ third event of the year realized over $3 million in sales. Over 1,270 rare and historic arms and militaria came up for bid on June 26 and 27 in four sessions: Fine Antique & Collectible Arms, Collectible Colts & Winchesters and Native American Artifacts, Modern Military and Commercial Firearms, and Sporting Arms and Fine Japanese Swords & Fittings. Several noteworthy collections were among the lots that went under the hammer, including the Joe and Brian Buffer Collection, items from the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, and an exceptional assemblage of fine Japanese edged weapons and fittings from a Southern collector. Greg Martin Auctions’ June event was held for the first time at the company’s offices in Irvine, California.

Another lot that generated attention were two Confederate naval signal pennants captured from the gunboat C.S.S. Tennessee during the Civil War. The signal flags date from the deadly Battle of Mobile Bay in 1864, in which U.S. Rear Admiral David Farragut uttered his impassioned command still known today, “Damn the torpedoes – full speed ahead!” Estimated at $15,000 – 25,000, the naval signal pennants realized the mid-point of their estimate at $19,975.

Commenting on the auction, Greg Martin, principal of the firm bearing his name, said bidding was solid and steady. “The arms & armor market continues to show consistent strength, despite the headwinds of a choppy, uncertain economy,” said Martin.  “We’re pleased with our 2010 results to date, with three live auctions achieving near or over $3 million each.”

Other highlights of the June auction:

Lot 3273 – $32,313:  Rare Pedersen Device, Caliber .30, Model 1918-Mark I. This lot well exceeded its estimate of $18,000 – 24,000. (See photo above)

Lot 1261 – $19,975:  Lot of Two Historic Confederate Civil War Naval Signal Pennants Captured from the Gunboat C.S.S. Tennessee During the Battle of Mobile Bay. It was during the Battle of Mobile Bay, one of the fiercest naval combats on record, that Federal Rear Admiral Farragut uttered his famous command, “Damn the torpedoes – full speed ahead!” (See photo above)

Lot 2336 – $16,450: Rare and Historic American Revolutionary War Inscribed Powder Horn of Private Benjamin Stedman, 5th North Carolina Regiment. This lot well exceeded its estimate of $8,000 – 12,000.

Lot 1095 – $11,750:  Fine Bowie Knife and Engraved Scabbard, by Greaves.

Lot 4180 – $5,288:  Matched Pair of Signed Tsuba, with Dragon Motif and Papers. (See photo above)

Complete catalogs and auction results from the June Sale are available online at www.gregmartinauctions.com by individual lot, including full descriptions, estimates and photographs.  

Greg Martin Auctions’ next live sale is scheduled for September 2010.

You may also be interested in:
Standard Catalog of Military Firearms
Flayderman’s Guide to Antique American Firearms…and their values

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