Panel scene engraved Colt single action army revolver from the 1876 Centennial Exhibition and the earliest known factory engraved single action army revolver. (Dr. Joseph A. Murphy Collection) Est: $250,000.00 - $450,000.00 SOLD: $345,000.00
One of the finest arrays of firearms to come to auction in many years was conducted Oct. 6 and 7 by the auction company of James D. Julia.
The consignors themselves read like a who’s who of the gun world. Included were numerous members of the prestigious Society of American Arms Collectors such as Dr. Joseph Murphy, Ted Knee, Fred Edmunds, Peter Wainwright, and Chip Beckford. Other notable collections and estates included the long-time collection of Springfield rifles amassed by Carl Metz, the renowned William H. Osborn, II collection of important Confederate swords, the Herbert G. Wellington, Jr. collection of Winchesters and much more.
Despite weakness in the world economy and the impact it has had on the collecting fraternity, the auction still grossed over $11 million dollars for 840 lots. The auction facility was filled both days with collectors and dealers from all North America and across the world.
Tuesday October 6th began with a small choice grouping of Class III’s. A historic Russian AK-47 taken from a dead Viet Cong fighter after the famous Tet Offensive battle at the U.S. embassy, was estimated at $30,000 to $50,000, and went out after spirited bidding at $92,000.
A British Bren Mark I pre-86 dealer sample estimated at $6,500 to $9,500 brought $12,809, and a Solothurn A. G. S18-1000 carried a pre-sale estimate of $15,000 to $20,000 and sold just above the high estimate at $20,700.
U.S. military items were well-represented and included great rarities. A rare M1898 Krag rifle with Parkhurst stripper clip loading attachment came directly from the renowned collection of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Wainwright. Estimated at $12,000 to $20,000 it went out almost at high estimate selling for $19,500.
Pair of cased Joseph Manton flintlock dueling pistols. Est: $30,000.00 - $40,000.00 SOLD: $63,250.00
The top military item of the day was a 1903 Mark 1 with original Pedersen device and two magazines. It blew way above the $27,500 to $37,500 estimate, selling for $57,500.
Another ultra-rare item was a Remington M1917 Mark II—the only 1917 rifle cut with complete and unique Pedersen device. This again came from the Wainwright collection and was estimated at $30,000 to $50,000. It sold at dead center of the estimate when it realized $40,250.
A 1900 Army first contract pistol estimated at $12,000 to $15,000 sold for $20,250.
A small group of arms consigned by the widow of the famous actor Lee Marvin included an inscribed, cased, Stoeger Luger semi-automatic pistol, which had been presented to Lee Marvin at the time that he did the movie “Gorky Park.” It carried a pre-sale estimate of $500 to $2,500, and went out at $2,875.
Documented Colt Model 1860 army percussion revolver, belt & holster that belonged to famous ank and train robber Jesse James. Est: $200,000.00 - $300,000.00 SOLD: $230,000.00
Another lot, a Colt 1911 military Pistol was estimated at $1,000 to $2,000, and sold for $3,220. Marvin, an on-screen macho action actor often portrayed heroes in military movies. But unlike most of the actors who pretended to be war heroes, Marvin was, in actuality, a war hero: a U.S. Marine during WWII. He fought in the Pacific theater and was badly wounded near the end of the war; and, after returning home, later became involved in film.
The first day of the auction also included a stellar list of European sporting guns and a small group of target rifles. It was rounded out with the H.G. Wellington, Jr. collection of Winchester Rifles. Shortly after the collection was consigned, gun co-department head Wes Dillon examined the two prizes of the collection, a Winchester 76 lever action and a Winchester 73, both with extraordinary engravings and rare bold gold inlaid initials “AR”. Dillon suspected the guns had to have been made for someone special and after a period of research came up with the possibility of Col. Archibald Rogers who was known to have ordered two such special rifles. At this point, he contacted the heirs of the Wellington estate and asked if the family knew where their father had acquired these particular guns, and the answer coincided with what Wes had already discovered. Mr. Wellington bought them from a member of the Rogers family in New York. Col. Archibald Rogers was a conservationist, philanthropist, very successful businessman, and personal friend of Theodore Roosevelt. Together, they spent much time hunting and in the summer of 1881 and they both ordered nearly identical Winchester Model 76 rifles.
Colt No. 5 holster model Texas Paterson percussion revolver. (Dr. Joseph A. Murphy Collection) Est: $300,000.00 - $450,000.00 SOLD: $287,500.00
Rogers also ordered a Model 73 at that time. The 76 was first ordered with a 50 express caliber barrel, as was Teddy Roosevelt’s. Both sportsmen later realized that the 50 caliber was much more than what was needed for any North American game and furthermore the kick from the 50 caliber express was excessive. Shortly thereafter, both Roger and Roosevelt changed to caliber 45-75. Later, Rogers and Roosevelt were founding members and officers of the renowned and much esteemed Boone and Crockett Club. The rarity, condition and artistry of the guns, together with the historical aspect, drove the final sale price far above pre-estimate of $50,000 to $125,000. The Model 76 eventually sold for just under $190,000 and the Model 73 at $126,500.
The second day continued with Winchester rifles. An outstanding Winchester Model 92 16” trapper realized $17,500 and a scarce Model 92 take down short rifle from the Ted Knee collection estimated at $6,000 to $10,000 brought $8,600.
An outstanding Winchester Model 86 deluxe 45-70 with beautiful case colors sold for $40,250. An outstanding Model 76 deluxe in cal. 45-60 with nice case hardening estimated at $30,000 to $40,000 sold for $46,000. A rare 76 open-top estimated at $8,000 to $12,000 finally went out at $17,250. A 76 saddle ring carbine estimated at $7,000 to $10,000 realized $11,500 and a beautiful Nimschke engraved Henry marked 2nd Model 66 SRC estimated at $40,000 to $60,000 brought just about mid-range at $46,000.
Immediately after the conclusion of the Winchesters, the auction began Phase 2 of the renowned Doc Murphy Colt collection. Doc Murphy’s collection based on quality, rarity, condition and value, is considered to the finest firearms collection ever offered at auction. Julia’s had divided the collection into multiple sessions. The first session held in March of this year was an outstanding success and so there was great anticipation for the second session. This time included a Texas Patterson No. 5 revolver with 9” octagon barrel in which the final sale price was $288,000. Strong prices continued throughout the Murphy offering, an extremely rare cased 1st model dragoon, realized $230,000. An extraordinary cased civilian 2nd model dragoon percussion revolver, sold for $178,000. An extraordinary and spectacular cased engraved pair of Colt 1862 Police percussion revolvers realized $288,000. Immediately after a rare cased engraved Model 1860 Army sold for $104,000. The highlight of the day for the Murphy collection was an extraordinarily rare paneled scene engraved Colt single action from the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in exquisite condition estimated at $250,000 to $450,000 sold mid-estimate at $345,000. An extraordinary presentation book cased engraved Colt Model 1849 in exquisite condition brought $178,250. An extraordinarily rare cased engraved exhibition quality Colt Model 1862 police percussion sold for $166,750.
Quality Colts were not restricted to the Murphy Collection. A number of wonderful Colts were offered including a spectacular Cuno Helfricht engraved single action 45 caliber revolver. The consignor brought it in a few weeks prior to the cataloging and wanted to know if it had any collectible value. He was delighted with a conservative pre-sale estimate of $25,000 but was later astounded with the results of ferocious bidding battle between many enthusiastic potential buyers. The final price was $86,250.
A pair of factory engraved Colt single action army revolvers inscribed ‘Alfonse Malin’ had been purchased by the consignor a few months prior to the auction through an online gun auction. At this sale the pair brought nearly four times the original purchase price at the online auction, when it sold for $26,400.
A rare 1st Model 1855 Colt percussion revolving carbine at one time in the U.S. Cartridge Collection and in excellent condition from the Jim Eplen Collection carried a pre-sale estimate of $15,000 to $25,000 and sold mid-estimate at $20,000.
Another scare Colt half stock revolving percussion sporting rifle from the Eplen collection realized $23,000. An extremely rare cased Colt 3rd Model dragoon in outstanding condition still exhibiting some of its case hardening realized $138,000.
A fantastic cased Colt Model 2 percussion revolver estimated at $18,000 to $22,000 went out at $27,600. And a rare cased Model 62 police percussion that was part of the Colt Archive Collection and in outstanding condition carried a pre-sale estimate of $16,500 to $22,500 and finally sold at $25,300.
In the late 19th century for personal protection, one couldn’t beat a rare Belgian Apache Knuckleduster DA revolver. The 6-shot revolver included a retractable knife, and the grips consisted of a set of brass knuckles. This piece estimated at $7,000 to $9,000 went out at $16,000. A fine inscribed cased pair of Remington New Model army revolvers estimated at $10,000 to $15,000 from the Peter Wainwright Collection went out at $16,000. An extraordinary cased pair of unique Franz Ulrich percussion target pistols with exquisite engraving estimated at $7,500 to $12,500 realized $18,500.
Wes Dillon from the Julia gun department attended one of the major gun shows at which a potential client approached him with an extremely rare and extraordinary pair of cased royalty quality Manceux percussion target pistols. Each together with their accessories where lavishly encrusted and embellished with gold and engraving. In addition, they were inscribed in French ���Given by the King of France to Monsieur Captain Cochran 1843”. The owners had hoped that the set might bring $25,000, but their expectations were greater than tripled. The final sale price on this lavish artistic set was $86,250. One of the most exciting historical finds in many years was a documented Colt Model 1860 Army Percussion Revolver with holster rig, which at one time belonged to the notorious outlaw Jesse James. The gun and holster rig likely carried by Jesse as a teenager when he rode with Quantrill’s Raiders was given by Jesse’s widow Zerelda immediately after the funeral to lifelong friends Babe and Rufus Hudspeth. The Hudspeths rode with Frank and Jesse James during their years with Quantrill’s Raiders and had grown up in the same general area. The guns descended directly from Babe Hudspeth to the current consignor, an octogenarian who was recently widowed. An affidavit from the consignor attesting to the above information was strong evidence of its history with rare and conclusive evidence affirming the consignor’s statements. On the reverse of the silver belt keeper and buckle of the holster rig, Jesse had scratched his name “Jesse W. James” with the tip of a knife. The much worn inscription matched that of known signatures of the famous outlaw, but what was even more conclusive was the photograph taken of Babe Hudspeth, the new proud owner of the holster rig. Shortly after acquiring the rig, he and a cousin went to Winan’s Photographic Room in Independence, Missouri, and there he stood chest out, head cocked at a jaunty manner, his coat carefully tucked behind the gun, and the other side of his coat held back by his hand which rested on his hip, proudly brandishing this very Colt revolver and the holster with its unique silver buckle, belt keeper and belt tip. The combination of the affidavit, the signature and the period photograph of the rig was a unique set of conclusive proof of ownership and descent rarely encountered in a historic item. The rig sold for $230,000.
Julia’s regularly features outstanding Civil War and Confederate items and this sale included some special offerings. Notable was the collection of swords from the late William H. Osborn, II estate. Bill Osborn, renowned in Confederate circles and an authority on Confederate swords, had amassed a select group of outstanding Confederate swords, some of which were considered to be perhaps the best of their type. One lot, a historic Confederate Field Officer’s sword of Edward Paine, 59th Alabama CSA, made by Louis Haiman, carried a pre-sale estimate of $65,000 to $90,000 and went out at $68,250. A beautiful Confederate Staff and Field Officer’s sword with rare “Fort Hilt” marked Thomas Griswold & Co. New Orleans sold for $46,000. An ultra rare Leech & Rigdon Cavalry Officer’s Saber from Osborn’s Collection brought $43,125.
Another very important Confederate collection offered was that of Mr. & Mrs. Fred Edmunds. The Edmunds had collected Confederate memorabilia for many years and Fred was highly respected as an authority on Confederate Arms. His esteemed collection has always been coveted and some of the items in his collection were the finest examples known. The most exciting lot was a Leech & Rigdon revolver made in Greensboro, Georgia. The provenance together with its great condition warranted a $30,000 to $35,000 estimate but bidding competition shot well through the high estimate and ended up at $63,250. A Dance & Brothers Confederate Revolver, converted to 44 rimfire, sold for $43,125. A rare Augusta, Georgia marked Rigdon & Ansley revolver sold at $40,250 and a Spiller & Burr revolver serial #129, estimated at $25,000 to $30,000 sold just under high estimate at $29,300.
In addition to the Edmunds and Osborn Collections there were a number of other fine Confederate and Civil War items. A small group of Civil War Artillery from the Ken Horn Collection was offered as a collection. Estimated for $10,000 to $20,000, it went out at $15,000. Historic cased artillery tools used on the famous Civil War Cannon “Swamp Angel” carried a pre-sale estimate of $4,000 to $6,000 but sold for $7,700.
A consecutively numbered pair of Le Mat revolvers were offered; any Confederate used Le Mat revolver is rare, but to find a matched pair is extraordinarily rare. They were estimated at $30,000 to $40,000 and sold just above high estimate for $40,250.
A Berdan’s Sharps rifle with bayonet and scabbard from the Peter Wainwright Collection, estimated at $6,000 to $10,000 went out at $9,800. Another scarce Sharps Model 1874 mid-range No. 1 Single shot rifle estimated at $10,000 to $15,000 went out at just over $20,000. A model 1855 US Rifled carbine in spectacular condition estimated at $12,500 to $17,500 sold for $23,000. Exquisite artistically made long rifles, one a flintlock rifle by contemporary maker Will Sater had fine silver wire inlay, carved wood, and silver embellishments. Another was a percussion lavishly carved, engraved, and inlaid with gold and silver by Cecil G. Brooks; each brought $17,250.
Despite the tremendous success of the Julia sale, Julia’s prediction that there would be plenty of bargains at the sale proved to be true. In addition, there were items that did not sell. Immediately after the auction, Julia’s posted a listing of things that did not find buyers, and within a week after the auction, a second flurry of activity took place with collectors negotiating offers for unsold items.
“This is a buyer’s market today”, stated Jim Julia. “It is an extraordinary time for serious collectors of rare and antique firearms. The auction venue continues to be the most powerful marketing device in the world for offering diverse collections. In an economy where buying is sometimes sluggish, auctions with realistic estimates will produce very positive results and sometimes generate some exciting prices.”
Julia’s next firearms auction is scheduled for March 2010, and is destined to include another spectacular array of firearms. Among the numerous items already consigned for that sale is a highly important offering of rare exquisite high-art Nicholas-Noël Boutet flintlock arms.
More details about this and future auctions can be had by contacting Julia’s at James D. Julia Inc., 203 Skowhegan Road, Fairfield, ME, 04937, or calling 207-453-7125 or visiting their website at www.jamesdjulia.com.