BOUCKVILLE, N.Y. – A Confederate cannonball from the Battle of Gettysburg, mounted on three brass leg finials and engraved in script “Rebel shell – Gettysburg 1863,” sold for $5,850 at Mohawk Arms’ Auction #71, held June 13th-14th online and at the firm’s gallery in Bouckville. The “plugs” had been removed from the seven-pound shell, exposing two threaded openings.
The auction featured hundreds of military items from multiple wars and generations. Headlining the sale was a single-owner lifetime collection of items from the Civil War through World Wars I and II. These included swords, combat gear, headgear, belts, buckles, uniforms and guns. Also sold were 300 lots of helmets and hats, over 100 uniforms, edged weapons and mannequin sets.
“We were very pleased with the results of this, our 71st auction,” said Ray Zyla, the owner of Mohawk Arms, Inc. “Interest in the Americana items (which included the Rebel cannonball and took into account items from the colonial era to the Civil War, the Spanish-American War and World Wars I and II) is what really put us over the top. Those items did well across the board.”
Zyla added, “American World War II items and groupings are gaining in popularity, especially when they can be connected to specific individuals. That personalizes them and makes them more desirable. It used to be that a helmet or a uniform with no provenance or anything to link it to a soldier or unit would be enough. Today, people want to know the history behind the item.”
Other categories that fared well were mannequins (all sold except one), American helmets from World Wars I and II, and firearms (especially Civil War carbines). Bids poured in from around the world – Canada, Russia, Italy, England, Germany and even Asia. Internet bidders could participate via LiveAuctioneers.com or the Mohawk Arms website (www.MilitaryRelics.com).
By the time that last of the nearly 1,800 lots had crossed the block, the auction grossed a total of around $480,000. Zyla estimated between 75 and 80 people attended the auction in person, while another 800 registered to bid online. Phone and absentee bids were also recorded. Following are additional highlights from the auction. All prices quoted include a 17 percent buyer’s premium.
A Civil War felt fez hat worn by a member of the 11th New York Fire Zouaves (a unit that saw action in the battles of Bull Run and Manassas), with original full blue yarn, knot and tassel, with multiple strands, brought $5,850. Also, a Union Army M1858 “Hardee Hat” (also known as the “Jeff Davis hat”), worn by a member of Company I, 4th U.S. Cavalry, very rare, brought $3,627.
Also from the Civil War, a Confederate state of Louisiana Bowie knife, made circa 1860 with a 7 ¾ inch blade and showing the Louisiana state seal with a mother pelican feeding her young made $3,393. Also, an Ordnance Sergeant’s Cavalry “shell” jacket, with a period-correct Cavalry belt, a Colt-type black leather holster, cap box, pistol box and leather shoulder strap, went for $3,510.
The top lot of the auction was a uniform worn by SS officer Karl Franz, the last Kommandant of the Nazi concentration camp at Treblinka, a custom four-pocket white linen summer tunic with silk lined sleeves and other features ($10,238). Also, a 33-inch wood cross bar and cords for the “Deutschland Erwache” standard, with turned “acorn” ends and matching tassels, made $5,967.
From the firearms category, a Sharps new model 1859-1863 percussion saddle ring carbine, with a receiver marked “C. Sharps Pat. Oct. 5th, 1852” and “R. S. Lawrence, Patented Feb. 15th, 1859” with clean stock and forearm, rang out at $4,329. Also, a Civil War Green Breech loading rifle with unusual .53 caliber percussion underhammer bolt action mechanism hit the mark for $3,276.
A Civil War Spencer repeating carbine, with the top of the frame marked “Spencer Repeating Rifle Co., Boston, Mass, Pat’d March 6, 1860,” with light patina on the blued 20-inch barrel marked “M. 1865,” breezed to $3,042. Also, a German World War II “Panzer Faust,” designed to be a portable one-man anti-tank weapon (very effective against Soviet tanks) fetched $2,691.
Tops in the edged swords category was a Japanese Yasukuni shrine sword, with a tang signed “Yasunori” and dated “A Lucky Day in March 1941,” with handmade 26 ¾ inch curved blade ($5,265). And from headgear, a German Army General’s World War II peaked cap made of fine quality doeskin, with gold metal eagle with swastika and gold wire cord piping, rose to $4,212.
A complete United States Marine World War I uniform on a mannequin, worn by a K. H. Becker, with an M1912 wool olive drab tunic, matching trousers and peaked cap, ankle-high boots and field-worn helmet, garnered $4,212. Also, a German Third Reich SA Oberfuhrer (for Westfallen) field service, four-pocket gold-brown wool uniform with breeches brought $2,925.
To learn more, visit www.MilitaryRelics.com.