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Militaria sells especially well at Philip Weiss auction

Around 1,200 lots in a broad array of categories changed hands
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August 20, 2009
OCEANSIDE, N.Y. – A historic archive comprising nine ambrotype and daguerreotype images of James A. Garfield – taken in the 1850s and the first known images of the slain president – sold for $21,470 at a massive weekend sale held July 31-Aug. 2 by Philip Weiss Auctions. Around 1,200 lots in a broad array of categories changed hands, with military items doing especially well.

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Confederate officer's cavalry saber made by Thomas
Griswold & Co. of New Orleans ($4,290).

The Garfield archive included a 1/4-plate 1855 daguerreotype of the president and his family, identified in his own handwriting; a 1/4-plate daguerreotype of the Rudolphs (the parents of Garfield’s wife); a 1/4-plate daguerreotype of Garfield’s sister and two other people; and a 1/9-plate daguerreotype of Garfield at about age 26. In Garfield’s diary (written in Latin), he references two sittings from 1852.

“Overall, we were pleased with the results of the sale,” said Philip Weiss. “Most of the lots did as-expected or better. As for attendance, we probably had around 1,000 bidders combined over the course of the three days, in-house and on the Internet.” Online bidding was facilitated by Proxibid. “Day three, when the military items came up for bid, provided the real ‘oomph’ for the sale,” Mr. Weiss said.

Following are additional highlights from the auction. All prices quoted include a 13 percent buyer’s premium.

An original song sheet penned in ink during the Civil War by Capt. Isaac Hart and written expressly for the Richmond Prison Association and Libby Prison, rose to $5,085. The unusual item had the official seal of the Association (and the slogan “Bite and be damned”) on the reverse. Also, one lot of two military bayonets with scabbards, one marked “U.S. 1900” (the year of manufacture), hit $2,090.

A Confederate officer’s cavalry saber made by Thomas Griswold & Company (New Orleans) hammered for $4,290. The end of the blade was marked with the name of the manufacturer, which was formed around 1845 by Henry Thomas and Arthur Breese Griswold. The company made swords for Confederate troops during the Civil War. This example had the original grip and a nice 35-inch blade.

Most everyone is familiar with the iconic “I Want You For U.S. Army” recruiting poster, but not so known is the fact that the poster was first introduced during World War I. This auction featured one of those very posters, from 1917, and it sold for $2,935. The artist was James Montgomery Flagg. The poster – about 30 inches by 40 inches – had some light edge and corner wear, plus light foxing marks.

An archive of material pertaining to U.S. Navy shipman Richard Lisle, who achieved the rank of Apprentice First Class and who served aboard the U.S.S. Olympia (Admiral Dewey’s flagship) during the Spanish-American War, climbed to $2,599. The archive included some emblems, as well as a medal presented to shipman Lisle by Admiral Dewey for his participation in the battle of Manila, in 1898.

A 19th-century U.S. percussion musket with the original ramrod made a bull’s eye for $1,355. The bolster was marked “HP,” the lock was marked “1830, Springfield, Eagle, U.S.” and the barrel was marked “1863” at the tang, indicating the musket had been modified piecemeal over time. The weapon also carried the U.S. Inspector’s mark of “S” on the lock sideplate and a “DB” mark on the trigger plate.

Philip Weiss Auctions’ next big sale will be yet another three-day extravaganza, slated for the weekend of Sept. 11-13. The Sept. 11 session, starting at 4 p.m., will feature over 600 lots of toy soldiers, including Courtenays, Britains, Mignots, Manoils, Barclays and a single-owner collection of rare Elastolins. Also featured will be large group lots and boxed sets of Mignots from a single collector.

To learn more about the company and its calendar of upcoming sales, to include the Sept. 11-13 weekend sale, visit Updates are posted frequently.

Photos courtesy of Philip Weiss Auctions:

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