Last month James D. Julia Auctioneers of Fairfield Maine established a new benchmark for the highest grossing firearms auction in history. The new record of $12.7 million was reached with only 1,270 lots, exceeding their October 2007 record of $11.235 million.
The record breaking Julia Spring Firearms auction was held Monday March 10th and Tuesday March 11th.
The two-day sale included a number of notable collections and an extraordinary diversity of rarity and quality, beginning with the collection of the late Bruce Stern of Connecticut.
Mr. Stern was a passionate, lifelong collector of 20th Century military. His military auction started off with 100 of his Class III weapons. Billed as the largest offering of Class III weapons offered anywhere in recent years, the Stern Collection is well known throughout North America.
A Rheinmetall Germany FG42, Second Model machine gun was not only a choice example but also one of only a few currently known in this country. It carried a presale estimate of $50,000-$90,000 but saw tremendous bidding competition and ended up at $149,500.
A rare Johnson Model 1944 light machine gun, carrying a presale estimate of $10,000-$15,000 flew to $74,750. A British Sten MKI sub machine gun, estimated at $7,000-$9,000 brought $32,000. A U.S. Browning machine gun, cal .50M2HB, manufactured by Colt and estimated at $29,000-$39,000 sold for a final price of $51,750.
In addition to Class III weapons, the Stern collection included a number of other military firearms including a rare Borschardt Patent Model 1893 semi-automatic pistol. This firearm is one of the first successful semi-automatic pistols made. It carried a presale estimate of $30,000-$40,000 but went out at $51,750. A rare Colt Model 1900 Sight Safety, USN, estimated at $9,000-$13,000, sold for $21,850.
Prototypes offered in the sale included a pre-WWII experimental semi-auto Japanese military rifle, SN 8 and cal. 6.5 carrying a presale estimate of $7,500-$12,500; it went out for a final bid price of $23,000.
An extensive collection of sniper rifles, most from WWII included a Mauser 98K Shot Rail Sniper Rifle with sling and bayonet, estimated at $5,000-$7,500 and sold for a final bid price of $24,150.
Late in the Second World War, the Germans, with most of their factories destroyed, had little capability of producing firearms and one of their last efforts was a crudely made semi automatic rifle known as the VG5 C. This example estimated at $12,000-$15,000 went out for a final price of $31,050.
An unusual Swiss Mondragon Model 1908 Military Issue Semi-Auto Rifle, estimated at $2,500-$4,000 sold for $27,600.
During the early part of the twentieth century, a man named Pedersen invented a device that could be mounted on a normal bolt-action rifle converting it to a semi-automatic rifle that came to be known as the Pedersen Device. An ultra rare US Model 1918 Mark 1 Pedersen Device from the Stern Collection, together with a few boxes of cartridges was estimated at $20,000-$30,000 but sold for $60,250.
Another recent discovery offered at the sale was a rare engraved presentation Colt model 1855 full stock sporting revolving rifle in 44 cal. The workmen of Col. Colt's Armory in Hartford, CT had presented this fabulous gun decorated by the renowned engraver Nimschke." The gun carried a presale estimate of $30,000-$60,000 but shot through to double the high estimate at $126,500.
A rare Glahn engraved gold plated Single Action Army revolver carried a presale estimate of $150,000-$200,000 went to a collector at $155,250.
From the same collection an exceedingly rare Eugene Young factory engraved gold and nickel Frontier Six shooter estimated at $150,000-$300,000 brought $172,500.
A martially marked Colt Calvary Single Action Army revolver estimated at $ 75,000-$100,000 went out at $97,750.
Included in a select offering of Civil War items was a wonderful New Hampshire captured Confederate Flag that went out at $95,000. An exceedingly rare captured Confederate drum with period notation on the skin head was estimated at $10,000-$15,000 and went out at $20,700.
During the early 19th century slave owners in Charleston and formerly Charleston Neck could rent out their slaves for a daily wage. But each slave offered in this manner had to be fitted with a copper slave tag purchased from the town fathers identifying the slave's specialty, such as carpenter, house servant, etc. Slave tags are much reproduced, but this lot, a spectacular offering, was all genuine. Ten of the 13 had been dug up by a single well-known excavator and the collection was one of the largest groupings of slave tags ever offered in one lot. It carried a presale estimate of $85,000-$95,000 and sold for $184,000.
The sale concluded with a small interesting grouping of Patent models relating to firearms. One such Patent model included was a wood and brass Patent Model by Colonel Laidley, which sold for $1,265.
The Julia auction not only broke a record for the largest grossing firearms auction ever, but the 1,270 lots, which realized $12,700.000 averaged out to $10,000 per lot, the highest per sale average of any firearms auction.
More details on this auction can be found on the Julia Auction web site at www.juliaauctions.com.
Julia's next auction is a fine art antiques auction scheduled to take place in May at their Fairfield facility.