FAIRFIELD, MAINE – In December of 2017, Morphy Auctions acquired the James D. Julia Auctioneers and as per the terms of the purchase, Jim Julia agreed to conduct the last two auctions; the February Fine Art, Asian & Antiques auction and his final March Extraordinary Firearms auction.Thereafter, all auctions will be conducted at Morphy’s Denver, Pennsylvania and Las Vegas, Nevada facilities. This final Maine sale was certainly a memorable one, filled with emotions, excitement and tremendous success. As such, it could not have been a more fitting final sale for the Julia legacy and a wonderful successful beginning for the new Morphy/Julia organization. The results of the 3-day event saw $15 million in sales.
The Bentley Collection was the headliner of the sale. More than 100 of Mr. Bentley’s Winchesters and Henrys were sold in this auction. The ultimate highlight from the Ray Bentley Collection of Winchesters was lot 2010. Engraved by Conrad Ulrich’s it was a gilded, high-relief engraved and fully signed Winchester Model 1866 lever action Winchester rifle, serial number 7994. As a work of 19th century art with its interpretation of Hiram Power's "Greek Slave" sculpture. As one might imagine, the demand for this rifle was high and generated intense bidding, which drove the final sale price all the way up to $598,000 against an estimate of $175,000-275,000. Overall, the Ray Bentley Winchester collection brought strong interest from collectors around the world.
Also offered from the Bentley collection were high condition longarms, Colt and S&W handguns, Gatling guns, edged weapons, rare ammunition, cartridge display boards and much more. A Colt Model 1875 Gatling Gun on an original carriage, one of just 44 long Model 1875 Gatling’s purchased by the US Army, was lot 2106. This Gatling is among the finest examples extant with beautiful surface and good collection history, and Mr. Bentley won numerous awards with this specimen. It sold for $299,000 against an estimate of $125,000-155,000. Lot 2116 was a Colt Calvary Single Action Army Revolver in pristine condition with grips dated 1876 and inspected by David A. Lyle and John T. Cleveland that sold for $69,000 against a $40,000-50,000 estimate. Lot 2138 was a staff officer’s sword presented to General George McClellan which had been owned by Ray Bentley for many years. This sword and its scabbard was estimated at $25,000-50,000 and brought a final price of $63,250. Among the many lots of rare ammunition from the Ray Bentley Collection was lot 2089, a 100-count Henry “Black Box” cartridge pack. Almost 40 years ago, Ray Bentley bought Val Forgett’s entire Winchester cartridge collection just to get this box. This is one of the finest examples of the earliest Henry rifle cartridge box of which only a handful of examples are known. He displayed it often with his Henrys and it was coveted by every cartridge collector who saw it, it sold for $46,000 against an estimate of $25,000-35,000. Several cartridge display boards from the Ray Bentley Collection were also in high demand, including lot 2088 a United States Cartridge Company display board that blew away its $12,500-15,000 estimate and brought a final price of $41,400.
In addition to his Winchesters and other firearms, Mr. Bentley accumulated a spectacular silver trophy collection. The collection included lot 2143, a historic, sterling, oversized beaker presented to Baron von Richthofen, aka The Red Baron, from Kaiser Wilhelm that was estimated at $20,000-30,000 and sold for $43,125. A rare and historic, finest known Lloyd’s Patriotic Fund £100 Battle of Trafalgar trophy, one of only 15 awarded after the famous 1805 engagement, crossed the block as lot 2142 with a $50,000-70,000 estimate and nearly doubled that selling for the world record price of $138,000.
In its entirety, over 300 lots were offered from the Ray Bentley Collections which contributed over $6 million to the auction’s total sales. More sessions from these historic collections will be offered at Morphy Auctions throughout 2018, starting in June.
This auction also included many other high points outside of the Ray Bentley Collection. This included offerings of Class 3 items, in fact over 100 NFA items were offered. This increasingly popular collecting genre was highlighted by a Colt R-75A machine gun as lot 1065, which was estimated at $70,000-100,000 and sold for a price of $80,500. Lot 1098, a Knight’s Armament Company Stoner 63A machine gun brought $69,000. World War II enthusiasts came out in force for this auction and were interested in lot 1000, a highly sought after Guide Lamp M3 A1 Grease Gun. Whether it was due to the vision of Lee Marvin wielding one of these machine guns in “The Dirty Dozen” or just a passion for collecting great guns, when the bidding ended this US military icon estimated at $18,000-20,000 had sold for $34,500. Among the other WWII-era machine guns that attracted the attention of discerning collectors was a fantastic Mauser-manufactured German MG-42 on a Lafette mount with accessories at lot 1016, which was estimated at $30,000-40,000 and sold for $54,625, as well as lot 1028 a Hungarian model 43M machine gun which saw service on the Eastern Front during WWII sold for $40,250. Many additional and important Class 3/NFA items such as Thompsons, H&Ks, Colts and superb advanced weapons of all kinds all performed quite well generating nearly $2.4 million in gross sales.
Top shelf offerings from the private collection of Rafael Cruz included lot 1421, a Marlin 1893 Deluxe Rifle engraved with gold & platinum inlays presented by Marlin to history’s most famous marksman, Annie Oakley. The receiver has special deluxe engraving with gold & platinum embellishments, most likely the work of the renowned Conrad Ulrich. This fine firearm has a very interesting history, chronicled in the book, Marlin Firearms by William S. Brophy and is pictured on pages 200, 547, and 548. This very special rifle was offered with an estimate of $200,000-250,000 and sold for $258,750.
Rare Civil War and Confederate items have always been a mainstay at Julia’s and this auction is no exception. A pair of consecutive numbered Confederate manufactured Rigdon & Ansley revolvers SN 1774/5 at lot 1349 sold for $97,750 against a $60,000-80,000 estimate. A Civil War Ames 1863-dated bronze 12-pounder Mountain Howitzer was offered as lot 1346A with an estimate of $45,000-65,000 sold for $80,500. Another Civil War treasure was lot 1361, a fresh-to-market Confederate Battle Flag from Freeman’s Tennessee Artillery. This flag descended in the family of Edward Curd (1845-1916), who enlisted at the age of 16 and, as the family believes, carried it during the war. It had a pre-auction estimated of $25,000-40,000 and soared all the way to $86,250.
This auction included several Custer-related items, including lot 1327 a half-plate ambrotype from life which is one of the most iconic and historic of all Custer photographs. This ambrotype was taken in late 1863 by photographer William F. Browne who worked as a camp photographer with Custer’s 5th Michigan Cavalry, and sold for $40,250. Lot 1328 was an important “lot 6” Ainsworth-inspected Custer-era Colt Cavalry Revolver that included a period flap holster and Kopec letter. This second-year production Colt SAA was estimated at $30,000-50,000 sold for $63,250.
The auction also offered up sporting arms. Our feature offering in this auction was the “Miracle Six,” a battery of Holland & Holland Royal Doubles made at the turn of the 20th century for Boston tycoon Nathaniel C. Nash (lots 1180-1184, estimates ranging from $30,000 to $95,000). These guns were put into cold storage in 1915 and have been out of circulation for over 100 years, until now! Offered as separate lots, they were ultimately purchased all by one buyer who wanted to make sure they remain together as a group for a combined total of $304,750.
Also from the sporting arms genre, lot 1193 was the very first pair of Woodwards made after Purdey had resurrected this famous brand. This incredible find, a pair of 20 gauge sidelock-ejector single-trigger over/under game shotguns with case, easily exceed the estimate of $60,000-80,000 and sold for $120,750. From the American side of the Atlantic, a number of fine Parker shotguns crossed the block, led by lot 1293 which was a Parker CHE 28 gauge skeet shotgun estimated at $75,000-110,000 and brought $97,750.
The majority of the high value items in this auction were sold in Julia’s first session known as the “Extraordinary Session.” The last day and a half of the auction featured what Julia’s refers to as the “Sporting & Collector Session” which consisted of over more than 600 lots of quality, moderately priced collectible firearms spanning all collecting categories. Great items from the Ray Bentley collection led the Sporting & Collector Session along, along with the final phase of the prestigious Warren Buxton collection of Walther related goods. Offerings from the Bruce Burtner and Robert Roughton collections were also featured in the Sporting & Collector Session, which had particularly strong participation and these moderately valued guns did extremely well, achieving prices that were on average 52% over the low estimate of the lots sold.
While this was the last auction to take place in Jim Julia’s famous auction barn in his hometown of Fairfield, Maine, the James D. Julia brand will be carried forward for years to come by Dan Morphy and his entire team at Morphy Auctions, which now includes many of the same experts from Julia’s that clients have come to know so well. Consignments are always being accepted for future auctions, and consignment details can be found at morphyauctions.com.
ABOUT JAMES D. JULIA, INC. AND MORPHY AUCTIONS
James D. Julia, Inc. is a division of Morphy Auctions, the finest auction destination for fresh to the market collectibles, and is headquartered in Denver, PA. The company also has a satellite office in Las Vegas, NV. A full-service auction house, Morphy’s presents over 35 premier auctions annually. The company’s three-part mission includes ensuring consignor satisfaction with every auction, offering world-class customer service that goes above and beyond the call of duty, and providing relentless buyer support to create confidence for all clients seeking a trustworthy purchasing experience.
Morphy’s team of specialists includes the nation's finest and most recognized experts in popular collecting categories including advertising; firearms; fine automobiles, automobilia and petroliana; coin-operated machines; antiques, fine, and decorative art; dolls, bears, toys, and trains; cast iron; coins; marbles; jewelry and wrist watches. Morphy Auctions is owned by President and Founder Dan Morphy, himself a lifelong and passionate collector of antiques, banks, and numerous other categories. Morphy's has been in business since 2004 and has grown from two to over 65 employees in over a decade.
Morphy Auctions is located at 2000 North Reading Road, Denver, PA 17517. We can be reached by phone at 717-335-3435, by fax at 717-336-7115, and by email at email@example.com. Morphy Auctions is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., or by appointment on off hours. For more information on Morphy's, please visit www.MorphyAuctions.com.