WILLOUGHBY, Milestone’s January 27 Historic Military & Firearms Auction held at the company’s suburban-Cleveland gallery realized $750,000. The 668-lot sale included many World War II and Nazi rarities, as well as Civil War uniforms and paraphernalia; Native-American relics, and antique weaponry.
“This sale set a record for the most bidder sign-ups we’ve ever had,” said Miles King, co-owner of Milestone Auctions. “A lot of gun collectors came to the preview and really enjoyed handling the old guns and studying how they were put together. There were many new customers who had never bid in our sales before and more bidders than usual participating at the high end. We were very pleased.”
Antique and vintage firearms were led by a Springfield M1-D Garand DCM .30-caliber sniper rifle in original sealed packaging with all accessories present. In untouched condition and accompanied by the paperwork documenting its original sale, it finished near the top of its estimate range for $7,200.
An Enfield P53 .577 3-band Civil War rifle from 1862 was identified as the gun of Ransom Tifft of the 18th Massachusetts Infantry. It came with a letter of provenance from renowned historical military artist Don Troiani, who acquired the gun directly from Tifft’s descendants. In all-original condition, the gun soared past its $1,200-$1,500 estimate to settle at $6,300. Another premier rifle, a Winchester.22-caliber pump Model 1906, with original box and packaging, retired at $3,720.
The top lot of the sale was a 1936 Mercedes-Benz 170V two-door coupe that originally belonged to Nazi SA physician Dr. Rudolf Beuring. One of only two of its type registered in the United States, the early-production 170V had been inspected by several qualified mechanics who noted that it was roadworthy and contained many hard-to-find new parts. The car was accompanied by a copy of its original bill of sale, as well as Beuring’s Nazi military profile with swastika stamps and a copy of his personal evaluation prepared for Adolf Hitler. The vehicle sold within estimate for $42,000.
World War II material in general, and Nazi memorabilia in particular, put in a strong performance. A 50-inch-square Nazi infantry battalion standarte with a large Iron Cross and eagle-and-swastika motif had been captured by US soldiers in 1945. It changed hands for $16,200. The most extensive array of World War II uniforms ever offered by Milestone included a Nazi German Army lieutenant general’s tunic. It was identified on the interior pocket as the property of Theodor Busse, who joined the Imperial German Army in 1915 as a cadet. He was a career officer who rose to Chief of Operations of the General Staff (1942-43) under General Erich von Manstein. The tunic sold above estimate for $8,400.
The most sought-after uniforms, however, were those of US Army Air Force P-39 pilot Joseph Scherer of Cleveland. The exceptionally complete archive consisted of Scherer’s painted A-2 jacket, embroidered white silk scarf with embroidered 97th Fighter Squadron patch, mission logbook, dress uniform jacket and two additional jackets; shirts, officer’s cap and other military memorabilia. A visual time capsule of a distinguished pilot’s career, it sold for $12,000 against an estimate of $3,000-$4,000. Asked why he thought the grouping had tripled its high estimate, Miles King replied, “Two bidders really wanted it.”
Among the edged weapons, a Nazi National Hunting Association dagger with a triple-engraved blade stamped with an Eickhorn insignia fared best, reaching $3,700.
Analogous to the Nazi opposition to “degenerate art,” a 1938 anti-Semitic poster titled “Entartete Musik” or “Degenerate Music,” with the image of a black saxophonist with a Star of David on his lapel, was bid to $7,500 against an estimate of $4,000-$6,000.
A grouping of Native American artifacts dug up in the 1890s in Lake County, Ohio, came with impeccable provenance from the digger’s family. The centerpiece of the lot, a large 8½-inch pop-eyed birdstone, was the exact match to the one seen in a cabinet photo taken 125-130 years ago by the original collector. It sold for $18,600 against an estimate of $16,000-$24,000.
On March 3, Milestone Auctions will conduct an auction of World’s Fair memorabilia including World’s Fair gold watches. The company is also currently accepting consignments for a March 24 militaria auction. To contact them, call 440-527-8060 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Online: www.milestoneauctions.com
*All prices quoted in this report include a 20% buyer’s premium.