LAS VEGAS – When True West magazine compiled its list of “22 Guns that Won the West,” eight of their choices were Colt classics, including the #1 firearm: the Colt Paterson revolver, a model that revolutionized handguns for all time. A new chapter was added to the legend of Colt firearms on September 20th as Morphy Auctions conducted a $2.2 million sale devoted exclusively to the revered 19th-century brand. Held at Morphy’s Las Vegas satellite gallery, the well-attended auction showcased the Dr. Edward Michael Feldman collection of 94 premium-quality Colt productions.
“We knew the sale was going to attract many of the Colt world’s heavy hitters, or their representatives, because Ed Feldman was known to acquire only the most exceptional, best-condition Colts,” said Dan Morphy, president of Morphy Auctions. “Everyone in the hobby knew this about Ed, so we expected there would be a high level of interest leading up to the sale – and we weren’t disappointed.”
A connoisseur’s selection, the Feldman guns were led by what is quite possibly the finest known example of an 1886 factory-engraved, blue-finish Colt Lightning. An extremely desirable Sheriff’s Model with an engraved barrel and a panel emblazoned with the image of a majestic bighorn sheep, the showy firearm had been featured on the cover of the Las Vegas Arms Show program for years and came with distinguished provenance. Estimated at $50,000-$70,000, it opened at $25,000 and attracted nearly 60 bids before settling at $190,650. All prices quoted in this report include the 20% buyer’s premium, per Morphy’s pre-stated conditions.
A historical and ultra-deluxe factory-engraved gun gifted by Colt to Major General William Starke Rosecrans in 1860 was described by Dan Morphy as “one of the most important Colt factory presentations – as deluxe as a percussion Colt can be without gold inlay.” Known as “The Rosecrans Army” model, it was embellished exactly like the pair that Colt presented to Union Army General George McClellan, one of which is now in the Smithsonian Institution. Housed in its original case with powder flask, bullet mold and caps tin, the prestigious gun offered by Morphy’s was chased past its $75,000-$125,000 estimate to a final selling price of $156,000.
Another select six-figure gun was the extremely rare double-cased pair of Colt Model 1862 ebony-gripped police revolvers. The guns had been presented to Captain W.H.H. Waller in 1865 and were first pictured in Sutherland and Wilson’s The Book of Colt Firearms with the notation that cased matched pairs of its type were “virtually nonexistent.” The magnificent revolvers achieved $117,000 at Morphy’s.
The auction opener was an example of the gun that, along with Colt’s single-action Walker, helped make the Connecticut firearms manufacturer a household name in the mid-19th century. A No. 2 Belt Model Paterson Colt No. 335 with a turned ivory handle was the earliest gun in Dr. Feldman’s collection. He had purchased it from the estate of Johnny Miller of Palm Springs, California, a collector who considered it one of the great prizes in his enviable assemblage of Colts and Winchesters. Opening at $25,000, it sold well above estimate for $96,000.
A luxuriously factory-engraved Colt Lightning Revolver made for mine owner C.N. Markle is the very gun pictured on two pages of Larry Wilson’s book titled Colt Pistols, The Collection of R.E. Hable. Retaining nearly all of its bright Colt nickel finish, it clearly impressed bidders who pursued it past its $40,000-$60,000 estimate to a $72,000 conclusion.
Other standouts from the top ten included: a cased, factory-engraved Colt 1860 Army .44 with ebony grips, $75,000; a cased pair of legendary 1851 Division Aide de Camp Colt “Navies,” $69,000; and an exhibition-quality 1880 Colt Single Action Army with pearl grips and factory engraving, formerly in the world-class collection of German industrialist Karl Press, $60,000.
“What this sale showed the hobby was that the best of the best and guns in top condition – which is precisely how I would describe Ed Feldman’s collection – will shine even during times when the market for antique guns isn’t at its highest point,” Morphy said. “The Colt Lightning that was estimated at $50,000-$70,000 but sold for $190,000 was the finest of its kind, so it sold accordingly.”
Morphy Auctions will conduct its semiannual Premier Firearms, Militaria & Sporting Sale at the company’s 45,000-square-foot flagship gallery in Denver, Pa., Oct. 30-Nov. 2, 2018. For additional information about the auction or to discuss a potential consignment, call 877-968-8880, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.morphyauctions.com.