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Julia firearms sale boasts diversity, quality, history

Julia Spring Firearms Auction is March 14-15
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All matching German MP-40 in original condition C & R. Est. $14,000-16,000.

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FAIRFIELD, Maine — James D. Julia will be conducting its semi-annual firearms auction March 14-15 at its new, state-of-the-art auction facilities in Fairfield, Maine.

The March 14 Session I will begin at 10 a.m. and start with an excellent selection of Class III and military items which will include a German MG42, estimated at $20,000-$30,000. A rare German MP3008 submachine gun carries a presale estimate of $12,500-$17,500.

At the conclusion of the Class III, military modern arms will be offered. Included is another recently discovered Singer M1911A1 semi automatic military pistol. Only a short run of these pistols by the famous sewing machine manufacturer was produced during WWII and because of the low number, anytime one of these comes to auction, regardless of condition, it elicits a fair amount of interest. This one happens to be a special example in very fine condition and carries a presale estimate of $30,000-$40,000.

Also up for bid is a martially marked Colt Model 1908 semi-automatic pistol in nearly new condition which purportedly belonged to Major General William J. (Wild Bill) Donovan of the intrepid OSS during WWII. The OSS of course eventually evolved into the CIA. This pistol with potential historic connections is estimated at $10,000-$15,000. Broomhandle pistols used during WWI and WWII are highly collectible. A majority of these are of German manufacture and use. However, some rare examples were Chinese. This sale actually has three rare Shanxi Models – one complete with shoulder-stock and holster in extremely fine condition from the Dr. Leonard Goldfarb Collection carries a presale estimate of $4,000-$7,000.

Single-shot rifles are also included in this session, including a Kornbrath-engraved custom high wall single shot in caliber .22LR. It features deep sculptured engravings of mountain goats and bighorn sheep. This rifle carries a presale estimate of $50,000-$70,000.

If you’re planning an African safari in the near future and need a trusty large-bore double rifle, and this sale should satisfy that need. Of special note is a Ken Hunt engraved John Rigby sidelock double rifle in caliber .470NE. This rifle is embellished with superb gold inlays of an elephant and lion comes from the collection of the late Robert E. Petersen. This gun carries a presale estimate of $80,000-$120,000.

Also featured will be Ernest Hemingway’s Westley Richards Droplock double rifle in caliber .577NE. This gun, used by Hemingway on his famous African safari and was featured in Look magazine in the 1950s, has a history of ownership from the early 20th century. The first owner, a British Cavalry Officer, likely never used the rifle as he was killed early in WWI. During WWII (according to Hemingway’s son), Papa and some confidants, while living in Cuba, contrived a scheme and obtained assistance from the OSS to go U-Boat hunting. Supplied with Thompsons, grenades and satchel explosives as well as the trusty Westley Richards, they would cruise the coastal waters of Cuba in their fishing boat waiting for a U-Boat to surface for “fresh fish”, when in fact their intentions were to sink a sub. Fortunately they never encountered the enemy. This recently discovered gun carries a presale estimate of $150,000-$200,000.

Serious grouse hunters then you may want to pick up a pair of James Purdey 28-gauge extra finish game scene engraved guns. This true pair features workmanship by Harry Kell and are in excellent condition and come from the trust of the late Walker P. Inman (who was an adopted heir of Doris Duke). This pair, in original case, is estimated at $80,000-$120,000. A one-of-a-kind Winchester M 21 Grand American factory upgrade .410/28ga set with gold and platinum inlays carries a presale estimate of $55,000-$75,000.

Browning for many years has been a well-respected manufacturer of shotguns. One of its most successful models in the early 20th century was the Auto-5. In 1970, Browning produced a special example of this extremely popular shotgun: the 2 millionth unit made. This shotgun was then inlaid in gold with embellishments that included a bust of Browning himself. Browning intended to present it to then President Richard Nixon. However, because of policy, Nixon could not accept the gun and it went back to the Browning archives, where it stayed for many years. This truly one of a kind and certainly one of the more special Browning shotguns to ever come to market carries a presale estimate of $50,000-$75,000.

From the same collection comes an outstanding array of approximately 40 other Belgian Browning shotguns and rifles including a rare and unique special order, exhibition Browning Custom Shop Auto-22, purportedly the only one ever made in .22SH, embellished with exquisite gold inlays. It carries a presale estimate of $15,000-$25,000.

The first session ends with a collection of Marlin rifles, most from the George Peters Collection. One example is a scarce factory-engraved Marlin 1893 deluxe in caliber .38-55 in fine-plus condition, it is estimated at $20,000-$25,000. Another special example from the Peters Collection is a factory-engraved silver trimmed Marlin Model 1894 takedown caliber .32-20 with a $15,000-$30,000 estimate.

Late 1st Model Win 1873 W/Rich High Luster Blue. Dr. Ed Lewis Collection. EST. $100,000-150,000.

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Session II on March 15 begins at 10 a.m. and will commence with an offering of rare Winchester and Volcanic Arms. The Volcanics were the predecessors of the Winchester rifle. Featured will be a rare, factory silver-plated, engraved 25-inch volcanic carbine in the original wooden presentation case. It is the only one known in such configuration and carries a presale estimate of $100,000-$150,000.

Winchesters are also extremely well represented. Most notable is a recently discovered 1873 Deluxe rifle with deep sculptured, engraving. The gun, with “$50 engraving” by John Ulrich, depicts a scene with Buffalo Bill on horseback chasing and shooting a bison on one side and the reverse depicting a hunter in the forest shooting stag and having a prominent “RHC” gold monogram. The piece is being offered with what is considered to be a very conservative $50,000-$100,000 estimate.

Another recent discovery is an 1876 “1 of 1,000”. Winchester marketed a premium version of their rifles exemplifying quality and accuracy. The gun was touted to have very finest barrel selected from 1,000 units and engraved as a “1 of 1,000”. The marketing ploy was not a commercial success and for that reason, very few of the guns exist are highly prized today. This example carries an estimate at $75,000-$125,000.

The Lewis Collection includes some great Winchesters as well. One of which is a minty 1886 Dlx .40-65 with vibrant, original case colors, and looking very much like it might have shortly after it was purchased from the store. This rifle carries a presale estimate of $22,500-35,000.

Colt Walker .44 cal A Co 119 w /Prov Est. $200,000-250,000.

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Once again, Julia’s will be offering a plethora of Colt firearms. The “pièce de résistance” in any Colt collection is a Walker. Only a small number of these were produced for use in the Mexican War and precious few of these have survived, and rarely in good condition. In the fall of 2008, Julia’s set the World Record for the most expensive single firearm ever sold at auction when they sold what is considered to be the finest martial Walker known to exist. At the time, the gun brought just under one million dollars!! This auction will include another Colt Walker, A Company #119. This one, in very good condition as Walkers go, carries a considerably lower presale estimate at $200,000-$250,000.

If on the other hand, those desiring condition may be drawn to the cased Colt 1862 London Police revolver. This gun, complete in its original case with accessories, has an estimate of $55,000-65,000.

Another choice Colt from a renowned old collection is a minty Colt 1860 Fluted Army in original case with accessories. It carries a presale estimate of $50,000-80,000. From the same collection is an extraordinary Colt 3rd Model Dragoon with matching stock: presale estimate of $95,000-125,000.

A cased London-marked 1855 Revolving Colt rifle with accessories, an exceedingly rare long arm in unfired condition, carries a presale estimate of $95,000-125,000. A spectacular plated Colt SAA embellished with engraving by the renowned Colt engraver Nimschke carries a presale estimate of $60,000-80,000.

Probably the most significant of all the Colt cartridge guns in this auction however, is a triplet set of engraved and gold inlaid Colt SAAs, which at one time belonged to President Alvear of Argentina. Alvear was a “crack” pistol shot and he used one of these pistols in competition. The other two remain in the original pristine condition in which he received them. Of all the millions of Colt revolvers produced by the firm, because of the great cost to produce, only 16 first generation single-action revolvers ever sported gold inlays. These are the only triplet set ever produced. They carry a presale estimate of $300,000-450,000.

Colt pinched frame S.A.A, one of only two known with original shoulder stock. Est $350,000-450,000.

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Another very rare Colt SAA is what is referred to as the “pinch frame”. Shortly after Colt began to develop the cartridge revolver, they hoped to sell a contract to the US Army. The first version that was tested by the Army had an integral rear sight that resulted in the model name being referred to as a “pinch frame”. Only a few of these were made since the US Army refused to accept them “as made” and asked for certain specific design modifications. Of the small handful of “pinch frames” that were originally made, only a few now exist today. The example in the Julia sale is considered to be the finest, fully marked pinch frame currently known to exist. And it is one of only two fitted with the original metal shoulder stock. It one carries a presale estimate of $350,000-450,000.

Civil War artifacts are also always well represented at Julia’s sales and once again, a number of outstanding items will be offered. Included is an extremely rare Texas-made Tyler rifle produced for the Confederacy. It comes from the collection of the late Fred McDonald of Houston, Texas and carries a presale estimate of $30,000-40,000.

Another rare Confederate arm produced in Texas was the Dance revolver. The Dance is one of the more desirable Confederate manufactured arms and this example, also from the McDonald Collection, carries a presale estimate of $40,000-50,000.

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Tiffany & Co. presentation Minerva statue hilt sword to Gen. Lewis Merrill w/ full provenance & family history. Fred B. McDonald Estate Collection. EST. $85,000-125,000.

The top piece from the McDonald Collection is the fantastic Tiffany & Company presentation Minerva Statue hilt sword presented to General Lewis Merrill, complete with full family provenance, daguerreotype of Merrill himself, etc. The sword carries a presale estimate of $85,000-125,000.

Rare early Confederate Secession Flag. Est. $15,000-20,000.

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Another interesting Civil War item actually slightly predates the war itself. It consists of an early Confederate Secession flag produced just prior to the onset of the war as unrest was fermenting in the South. This flag, of a rare configuration and made by hand, is in outstanding original condition. It features 13 bars and 11 stars (five on the canton on one side, six on the reverse canton). Presale estimate: $15,000-20,000.

A Custer Battlefield Spencer carbine. Forensic testing confirms its use and battlefield location, published in numerous books and articles. EST. $85,000-$125,000.

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This sale, as always, also includes a number of historical arms. One item of great Western interest is the rare and important Indian tack decorated Spencer carbine. This gun was actually used at The Battle of Little Big Horn against Custer’s Troopers. It has been forensically proven to have been at the battlefield as a result of an excavation that was done back in the 1980s. Cartridge casings were collected throughout the battlefield and later, people who had arms that they were led to believe were used in that most famous of all Western battles were allowed to have their gun tested. If the telltale signs of the spent cartridge casing matched with a casing discovered on the field, it confirmed that the gun had been used in the battle that resulted in Custer’s and his entire unit’s demise. In addition to the forensic proof, this gun also carries the pedigree of having been on display for many years at the renowned Cody Firearms Museum. A great Indian-used gun with original Indian tack decoration, this historic piece carries a presale estimate of $85,000-125,000.

There is also a lot of Indian artifacts included in this auction. From the McDonald Collection of Texas comes a grouping of beaded objects: tomahawks, guns and other items that were at one time part of the personal and private collection of Temple Houston. The lot carries a presale estimate of $20,000-$30,000.

Also up for bid is an engraved powder horn, decorated and embellished with the owner’s name, “Jonathan Huntress, 1777”. Research indicates that Huntress was a New Hampshire soldier in the Revolutionary War. He spent the winter in Valley Forge with Washington and the rest of the troops. The powder horn was almost certainly on his hip on this historic occasion. The horn carries a presale estimate of $10,000-$20,000.

A preview for Julia’s auction will take place March 11-13. The complete catalog and details regarding the sale are available on line at

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