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THE SWORD OF A VIKING CHIEF
It is a bad tendency to despise the historic peoples that have left few direct traces, or that have too much demonstrated their brutality. For the Merovingians, the character of the legendary goldsmith St Eloi reminds us the level of luxury which was practised by the kings of this dynasty.
The artefacts from the Vikings are rare at auction. With a starting price of € 15 K, Hermann Historica presents a Viking sword of the ninth or tenth century in its sale in Munich on April 24.
As you can imagine, this straight weapon 92 cm long displays an impressive power. The blade tapered at both edges is mounted on a riveted pommel. This object from archaeological find has retained its military appearance, but the decoration is less resilient. However, there are still some vestiges of inclusions of silver and copper on the pommel and quillons.
THE BIZEN SWORDS
2013 SOLD 47.5 K$ INCLUDING PREMIUM
Japanese smiths took advantage of unique features of the local iron ore in the former province of Bizen. Their masteryof steel enabled to create sword blades of top quality. The challenge was to combine strength and sharpness.
Bonhams is regularly devoting sales to the art of the Samurai. Two lots for sale on October 8 in New York are fine examples of the antiquity of the art of Bizen. Here is the link to the press release.
The oldest is a tachi realized more than 800 years ago and signed. Tachi may be the earliest form of Japanese steel sword, specially designed for fighting on horseback with its long and curved blade (around 60 cm). This specimen is estimated $ 30K.
Cavalry war went out of fashion shortly afterwards and the katana superseded the tachi. The katana blade, best suited for infantry, has a similar length but is flatter.
The other lot is a very rare example of daisho signed by one of the best sword smiths whose activity in Bizen is known from 1264 to 1287 in our calendar. The daisho is a pair of swords of dissimilar lengths. This one was so prestigiousthat it was equipped much later with luxuriously decorated lacquered sheaths. It is estimated $ 150K.
The best smith masters did not disclose their secrets and some old blades remain outstanding. The craft tradition of Bizen has however been recreated in the museum village of Osafune.
POST SALE COMMENT
The expected price for the daisho was certainly too high for this class of objects. Unsold.
Fortunately, the tachi offered two surprises: issued after the press release, the catalog aged it one century further and it was sold for $ 47.5 K including premium. Here is the link to the catalog.
THREE SWORDS FOR THE SHOGUN
or its sale of October 22 in New York, Bonhams has assembled into one lot three samurai arms. Their common characteristics is to be attributed to Kanabo Masatsugu. Kanabo was the name of the production school, and Masatsugu the name of the smith.
As a few days ago in the Asia group for the netsuke of Masanao, the same name has been used by several artists. If the attribution of these pieces to the Muromachi period is correct, the author would be the first of the Masatsugu, whose work began in 1558.
The three arms are different. The term "sword" that I used in the title is an approximation. The most interesting is a nagamaki. It is so large, 1.45 m including the mount, that an assistant was needed for getting it out of its scabbard.
Traditionally, this arm, and perhaps the other two of the lot, would have belonged to Tokugawa Ieyasu. It is significant of the prestige attributed to this set because the first shogun (generalissimo) of the Tokugawa dynasty (1603) is the political genius who was able to establish his power by ending the incessant wars of local feudal lords. His work preceded by several years the ministry of Cardinal de Richelieu in France.
The lot is estimated 200 K$. It is described but not illustrated in the press release issued by Bonhams.
1580 THE PISTOL OF EMPEROR RUDOLF
Rudolf II of Habsburg has a specific place in the history of emperors. Poorly interested in politics, he protected the scholars, sought the universal knowledge and managed in Prag a collection of works of art (Kunstkammer) which was the largest of his time.
On November 5 in Paris at Artcurial, lot 119 is a wheellock pistol that belonged to Rudolf II. This arm of respectable size, 40 cm, manufactured in Saxony circa 1580, included all the improvements available at the time. Of course, it is finely decorated. An ivory medallion carries the portrait of the emperor.
The first pistols with wheel appeared early in that century. Initially considered as unreliable and difficult to handle, they were mounted in conjunction with a knife. When technological advances allowed the pistol to gain autonomy while increasing security, it became the first firearm to be used from a single hand. The lockwheel is a toothed wheel on which the friction of a piece of iron pyrite generates firing. The latest development applied on the pistol of the Emperor is a reset system without a key.
Now, talking prices. The press release indicates 120 K€ and the catalog 140 K€. Legally, it is the price in the catalog that must be taken as reference.
1683 A Cannon for Louis XIV Navy
2009 SOLD 66 K£ including premium
James Close was an officer in the Royal Navy. He built a collection on an original theme: the naval guns. Seven pieces from this provenance will be sold by Dreweatts at Donnington Priory, Berkshire, on July 15. Dreweatts is regularly organizing sales in this room located deep into the English countryside. Hopefully the weather will be nice.
The collector was also an engineer. On a photo published in the catalog he is preparing the firing of one of his pieces at a family event.
The top lot of this group is estimated 15 K £. This bronze cannon sank with the HMS Association in 1707 on the reefs of the Scilly Isles. The boat was found in 1967. However, this cannon was not of English origin: it bears a mark identifying its cast at the time when the Admiral of France was the Comte de Vermandois (1669-1683), The title was honorary, as the son of Louis XIV and La Vallière was born in 1667 ...
Another mark indicates its participation in the Battle of Vigo (1702) and it is certainly on this occasion that he came in possession of the English. Longer than 3 meters and weighing 3.5 tons, it is presented on a wooden carriage built for it by the company which had acquired it at Sotheby's in 1969.
POST SALE COMMENT
The cannon described in my article had been sold 55 K£ before fees ie 66 K£ including premium.
1695 The Head of the Mathematical Board
2012 SOLD 360 K$ including premium
Nan Huairen's original name was Ferdinand Verbiest. He was Flemish, and was the most effective of the Jesuit missionaries who managed to convince the Qing that they had everything to gain by knowing and using techniques from the West.
Outstanding inventor and engineer, Verbiest created three models of bronze cannons mounted on caissons with high wheels, and then he supervised the production. He died accidentally during the 27th year of Kangxi but production continued, to exceed 900 units at the end of the reign.
An example of Verbiest cannon is estimated $ 400K, for sale by Doyle in New York on March 19. Its remarkably precise inscriptions identify the date: the 34th year of Kangxi reign (1695AD), the place of manufacture: a suburb of Beijing, and the names of the manufacture executive and of the casting masters.
This lot is shown on the release shared by AuctionPublicity. Let us include two dimensions for characterizing the size of the piece: gun length, 1.60 m, and wheel diameter, 1 m.
POST SALE COMMENT
This interesting cannon was sold $ 300K before fees, 360K including premium, probably in the post-bidding phase (I had not caught it in the first list of sold lots).
1728 maintaining the independence in lorraine
However, France was not ashamed to occupy the territory of the duke. Leopold left his capital Nancy and built in Lunéville a palace worthy to compete with Versailles.
The duke was assisted by the Marquis de Beauvau-Craon, of same age as himself and whom he married to his favorite. The marquis made a very successful career with the duke, who in 1697 gave him the title of Grand Ecuyer (master of the horse) de Lorraine. Since the late Middle Ages, the grand écuyer in entrusted to bear the écu (shield) in official ceremonies, meaning that he is the guarantor of the symbols of power of his sovereign.
In that period of the climax of French prestige, Lorraine had to follow this trend. In 1728, a luxurious épée de grand écuyer was provided to Beauvau-Craon, who had also been upgraded to prince in the meantime. On the following year, this sword accompanied the bâton ducal (ducal stick or scepter) at the funeral of Duke Leopold.
Remaining up to now in the Beauvau-Craon family, this presentation arm is estimated € 700K for sale on June 15 in Paris by AuctionArt, lot 6 on the bidding platform auction.fr.
Made on the model of ancient swords of the connétables de France, it is the piece of a goldsmith with its gilt (vermeil) guard carved with the emblems of Lorraine. It is unique in its kind.
1739 A PRECURSOR OF THE SPIKED HELMET
2009 SOLD 62 K€ BEFORE FEES
The sale of Czerny's on October 25 at Sarzana in Italy ends with four khula-khuds, this type of helmet that was used in the Middle East until the late nineteenth century.
The first three are beautiful objects inlaid with gold Arabic inscriptions for the use of an officer or for presentation.
The fourth and last lot, estimated 15 K€, is the earliest, the rarest, and belonged to one of these outrageous characters who were so typical of the eighteenth century.
Indeed, this piece is surmounted by a small cone terminated by a ball. In later models, the ball is replaced by a spike. The role of this accessory is to protect the head against the sword blows. This idea was restarted much later by the King of Prussia, who introduced the spiked helmet (Pickelhaube) in his army in 1843.
The military adventurer who owned the helmet was the Comte de Bonneval, who was angry with the Emperor of Austria and became a convert to Islam and a leader of the Ottoman armies in 1739.
POST SALE COMMENT
Very good results for these helmets. The three most recent have been sold 24, 22 and 13 K €. They were also the most decorated.
The earliest helmet was really a special piece in its class: 62 K€.
These prices are before fees.
1773 the horns of the revolution
2016 sold for $ 116k including premium
The hollowed horn of cattle is a good choice. It keeps the powder away of moisture and its volume is large enough. Polishing the walls protects against the fatal effect of a spark. The piece could be decorated like a scrimshaw.
Two powder horns dating from the American Revolutionary War come at auction a few days apart. Both pieces have retained their stopper.
On January 11, Sterling Associates sells a decorated horn, marked with the name of Alexander Hamilton and dated 1773. Its inscriptions are considered autographs and a direct descendant of the famous Founding Father states that he considers it as an authentic provenance.
It is estimated $ 25K, lot 60 on the bidding platformsLiveAuctioneers and Invaluable. The auction house is located in Closter NJ. The bids are received as absentee orders and live by phone and Internet.
On February 4 in Fairfield ME, James D Julia sells a horn inscribed on the stopper with the name of its owner Oliver Buttrick and dated 1774 in the same place. It has certainly been used by this minuteman at the Battle of Concord on the following year. It is estimated $ 20K, lot 2026 on the bidding platform Invaluable.
RESULTS INCLUDING PREMIUM
Hamilton specimen : $ 116K
Buttrick specimen : $ 90K
1776 The Rapa Forge
A large private forge is established at Rappahannock near Fredericksburg, Virginia by James Hunter, a planter of Scottish origin. It supplies a whole range of equipment from bayonets to firearms. Hunter is the first American to produce sidearms, built on a British model, and supplies 80,000 muskets to the revolutionaries. The State of Virginia provides the gunpowder necessary for testing the weapons.
Two luxury pistols have survived, responding to a single model, marked J. Hunter and Rapa Forge. Mounted in silver, they were certainly made together for a private commission.
One of the recipients is identified : Lieutenant-Colonel Moses Rawlings, who in 1776 commanded the Maryland and Virginia Rifle Regiment. His pistol is owned by the Maryland Historical Society. Its twin is estimated $ 250K for sale by Morphy in Denver PA on November 17, lot 1009 here linked on the LiveAuctioneers bidding platform. One possible recipient is Charles Scott, colonel in 1776 of the 5th Virginia Regiment. Its butt cap displays a grotesque mask in high relief.
The terminus ante quem of these two pistols is probably February 1777, when Hunter's delivery wagons are requisitioned for military use, putting his business in great difficulty. His most skilled employees join the army. He definitively closes the forge in 1781
Extremely rare, silver-mounted, officer's pistol made at Rappenhannock Forge, Virginia. This is one of two known, private-purchase, officer’s pistols of similar form fabricated at Rappahannock Forge. Est. $250,000-$500,000 https://t.co/lqUQPKjHwn pic.twitter.com/4039pkcdeq— Morphy Auctions (@MorphyAuctions) November 3, 2020
1800 TULA STEEL DIAMONDS
The city of Tula, 200 kilometers south of Moscow, reached fame circa 1800 for its armoury workshops. Tula craftsmen worked steel, for the Imperial cabinet. A factory for weapons still exists now.
In this category, here is a steel sword inlaid of gold, 89 cm long, that Christie's sells on Nov. 24 in London (7630 sale, Lot 40). The fineness of the decoration makes it a true work of art, estimated 300 K £. The blade is decorated with the seal of a diplomat. The pommel is shaped as an eagle beak. The faceted forging of steel was a specialty developed in Tula, and the alignment pattern of diamonds of this sword is a superb example.
The art of Tula workshops is very specific, and it is difficult to imagine without seeing. In Paris, the attention of auction fans was attracted by this very precious style in a sale made by PIASA at the Hôtel Drouot on 18 June 1999. A pair of candelabra 40 cm high also faceted with diamond patterns was sold 2.1 MF before fees, and an octagonal mirror of 63 cm had reached 980 KF.
ca 1806 boutet beyond the privileges
Son of an arquebusier of Louis XVI, Boutet continued his career at Versailles. In 1792, when Prussia declares war on France, Benezech and Boutet are commissioned for creating an arms factory. They use for that purpose a wide disabled part of the palace, where they will produce carbines but also locks.
Such an official mission is also in the trend of the revolutionary decision to put an end to the privileges of the guilds, with a favorable consequence in Boutet's ability to hire the best workers from Europe.
Boutet was all along his life an unefficient financial administrator but his response to military and artistic needs was perfect. Napoléon gave him his confidence. Between 1800 and 1818, the Manufacture de Versailles produced 145,000 military firearms and 485,000 other weapons including swords. It employed 800 workers.
The production by Boutet of presentation rifles, pistols and swords is responding to a request certainly made by the Premier Consul himself, probably as early as 1800. In 1806, when he granted new kingdoms to his brothers, Napoléon offered them weapons of the highest luxury.
On September 30 in London, Christie's sells a flintlock sporting rifle with gold inlaid panels, lot 182 estimated £ 250K. This weapon bears the mark used by Boutet during the Consulat from 1799 to 1803 but also the monogram of Jérôme Napoléon appointed king of Westphalia in 1807. I tend to believe that this beautiful presentation rifle was made around 1806.
1806-1810 The Honor of the Bonapartes
2009 SOLD 292 K€ including premium
The Emperor Napoleon endeavoured to dictate his will on Europe, but also on his own family. He forced his brother Louis to marry Hortense, Joséphine's daughter. The couple failed to reach much agreement, but had three children. According to gossip, the eldest was perhaps a son of Napoleon ...
Politically, it was even worse. To counter the English threat, Napoleon, who usually was more clever, named Louis King of Holland in 1806. More interested in his new people than in his brother, Louis contrived to offend Napoleon and abdicated in 1810.
Louis Bonaparte loved luxury, and he certainly appreciated the ceremonial gilt sabre that Boutet made for him. Nicolas-Noël Boutet, director of the Manufacture Impériale de Versailles, was the most renowned French gunsmith of his time. His honor weapons, swords, sabres, firearms, are masterpieces. Louis' sabre is finely carved.
It is presented in its scabbard in red morocco in Paris (Hôtel Drouot) on November 18 to be auctioned by Thierry de Maigret. The estimate is not published yet, but I have no doubt that this lot is outstanding.
POST SALE DISCUSSION
There was no doubt about the high quality of this piece. The result confirms : 292 K€ including premium.
In the same sale, the very rare "habit de grand uniforme" of Maréchal Davout was sold 298 K € including premium.
1808-1815 The Swords of the Empire
2014 SOLD 290 K€ including premium
They are rarely dated but the often ephemeral careers of kings and dignitaries allow to accurately position them in the timeline. Steel blades are mounted in gilt silver or gilt bronze and sometimes adorned with mother-of-pearl or ebony.
The collection of Maréchal Berthier, to be dispersed by Sotheby's in Paris on April 29, offers three of these prestigious pieces, two of which owned by his descendants after the marriage of his granddaughter with a Prince Murat.
In France , the undisputed master of luxury arms is Nicolas-Noël Boutet, director from 1798 of the Manufacture d'armes de Versailles. He is the maker of the sword worn by Napoléon Bonaparte in 1800 at the Battle of Marengo, sold for € 4.8 million including premium by Osenat on 10 June 2007.
A large Boutet sword 100 cm long was sold for € 292K including premium by Thierry de Maigret on November 18, 2009. It was linked to the short reign of Louis Bonaparte in Holland from 1806 to 1810.
The glaive of Berthier for sale by Sotheby's is a 70 cm sword with a straight blade, also by Boutet. It is estimated € 200K, lot 313 in the catalog.
During the reign of Murat from 1808 to 1815 the Manufacture of arms of Naples produced swords with a quality comparable to Versailles.
The two Murat swords are very similar together, with a length of 95 and 96 cm and a curved blade of Oriental inspiration in the style named 'à la Marengo'. Each of them is estimated € 200K, lot 320 and lot 321 in the catalog.
The dimensions above are the total lengths of the pieces.
POST SALE COMMENT
The Murat's swords, which were very similar, were sold for € 290K each including premium. The glaive of Berthier was not sold.
1816 The Gunsmith of Versailles
2011 SOLD 165 K€ before fees
His varied production included swords and firearms. The best of them are richly decorated presentation arms.
The ownership of a weapon by a celebrity is a factor of added value. In November 2004, Christie's sold $ 1.7 million including premium a pair of flintlock pistols made 200 years before by Boutet for Bolivar.
Another pair of flintlock pistols by Boutet is for sale on October 8 by Czerny's in Sarzana (Italy). Presented in its case, it is superb with its octagonal barrels and fine decorations, some of which are damascened. It is estimated € 160K.
Its owner was not a statesman but an illegitimate descendant of the princes of Conti. Circa 1816, King Louis XVIII was indeed trying to reorganize the monarchy by relying on the survivors of the aristocracy of the Ancien Régime.
POST SALE COMMENT
Good result, € 165K before fees, in line with the estimate.
<1830 The War Dagger of the Native American Chief
2009 SOLD 480 K$ including premium
This is an object both beautiful and impressive, measuring over 50 cm overall. This is a great dagger manufactured in northern British Columbia between 1790 and 1830. Its long blade of iron or steel is double-edged. It ends with a handle with a wrapped rope and with a pommel. The pommel is in itself a work of art: it shows a strong stylized eagle head, the beak upwards.
This weapon had a war name. It was called "Eagle overlooking the Skeena River" and is known to have belonged to a wealthy native chief in the middle of the nineteenth century.
So usual that every man of these clans owned one, the knife was a sign of prestige and power when it reached the beauty of this one.
I had not seen in auctions similar items from this region. So I do not comment directly the estimate of K $ 400 announced by Bonhams and Butterfields. I note however that the estimated range is very open (50%), which often attests to the rarity of an object. The sale takes place on June 1 in San Francisco.
POST SALE COMMENT
This lot was sold for exactly its low estimate, 400 K$ before fees (K $ 480 inclusive).
1837 Baby Colt
2015 SOLD for $ 410K including premium
He immediately founded a factory in Paterson NJ and created a company in charge to exploit his inventions, the Patent Arms Manufacturing Co. His range of five-shots firearms takes the brand name of Colt Paterson. The models differ in the gauge and in the barrel length.
The smallest is a pocket model, No. 1 in the catalogue, in .28 gauge. It was produced from 1837 to 1840, and is also known by the nickname Baby Paterson.
On April 25 in Rock Island IL, RIAC sells one of the first specimens of Baby Paterson, lot 1093. This serial number 98 was probably a demonstration unit, characterized by an extremely short barrel 1 3/4 inch long. It is the earliest Colt revolver that was equipped with mother of pearls grips and factory engraved like the later presentation or exhibition units.
In excellent condition, this number 98 is sold with its mahogany factory case and many accessories of the period. It is estimated $ 400K.
It is shown in the tweet below, issued during the preparation of the auction. The estimate of this historical piece was subsequently revised upwards.
1843 a sustained franco-scottish friendship
2020 sold for $ 160K including premium
The duc d'Orléans, proscribed from France as the son of a régicide, is sailing with his two younger brothers on an uncomfortable American ship. A British boat offers to take them. The duc falls into the water and swims to the stern. He is welcomed aboard by a Scottish sailor.
Thomas Cochrane, later Lord Cochrane and Earl of Dundonald, will be a very effective captain, promoter of chemical warfare and pioneer of the steam military navy. His radical commitment made him an enfant terrible of the British navy, and he was to become a hero of the liberation of South America and Greece. He is pardoned in 1832 by the new king William IV.
The duc d'Orléans, who became in 1830 Louis-Philippe I king of the French, remembers his friend. In 1843 he presents to him a case including two highly luxurious pistols manufactured by Jules Manceaux in Paris. The arms are inlaid in fine gold instead of the more usual damascening of the time.
This set of royal quality is estimated $ 120K for sale by RIAC in Rock Island on September 13, 2020, lot 3262. One of the tweets below was issued before this lot passed at RIAC on September 12, 2015, lot 1163.
This pair of pistols is the witness not only of a lasting Franco-Scottish friendship but also of the evolution of the political sensitivities in the first half of the nineteenth century.
These percussion pistols were made for royalty. Ordered by King Louis Philippe of France, the pair are the definition of unframed art. The elaborate designs and relief carvings are perfect for anyone looking to add lavish pieces to their collection. https://t.co/xNlFvDzaOK pic.twitter.com/2juuT1yLmQ— Rock Island Auction (@RIAuction) August 1, 2020
1860 A Shotgun by Le Page Moutier
2014 SOLD 253 K$ including premium
On May 3 in Rock Island IL, RIAC sells a double barrel shotgun by Le Page Moutier, lot 1392 in the catalog, estimated beyond $ 275K.
This firearm is an exuberant work of art. The rear of the barrels is damascus inlaid over more than 20 cm, other steel elements are carved in low relief along with some fully three-dimensional figures of animals and the ebony stick is fully carved. The themes of hunting with many beasts mingle with patterns of foliage and vine. The hammer is linked to a dog who is threatening foxes when the weapon is in fired position.
This piece is twice dated 1860 : on the barrel signed by the best in France craftsman gunner at that time, Léopold Bernard, and by Le Page Moutier in the inlaid decoration. It had necessarily needed hundreds of working hours, but the primary reason for its realization is not known.
It was to appear only twenty years later when it was presented by Président Jules Grévy, elected in 1879, to Manuel Gonzalez who was elected president of Mexico in 1880 after being a close collaborator of Porfirio Diaz. The case is bearing the monogram MG and a portrait of Grévy was added on the forearm of the gun.
POST SALE COMMENT
The extravagant French shotgun was sold for $ 230K before fees.
1862 nine shots and a grapeshot
2016 sold for $ 225k including premium
The invention is operational and the first prototypes are tested in 1859. Then comes the Civil War. LeMat lives in New Orleans. PGT Beauregard is one of the earliest leading generals of the Confederate Army and a cousin of the wife of the inventor.
The South will never have the industrial power of the North. Their manufacturers of firearms are small scattered workshops. General Lee admitted later that some models are more dangerous for the user than for the target. Beauregard promotes the LeMat revolver, participates in its investment and obtains an order for 5000 units for the use of the Confederate army and navy.
LeMat is of French origin (spell it Le Mat in French). For security reasons, he organizes the production in Europe. The desired quantity will not be met but still 2900 LeMat revolvers were manufactured between 1862 and 1865.
On March 15 in Fairfield ME, James D. Julia sells the personal LeMat revolver of General Beauregard, bearing the serial number 8, lot 2198 estimated $ 200K.
In the rush of a war operation in 1862, Beauregard forgot his gun in the home of a friend who then kept it with his consent. It has probably never been fired. Still accompanied by its original holster, it is in superb condition including much of its original blue.
I invite you to watch the video in which the auction house discusses and compares no less than five LeMat revolvers coming in the March 15 sale.
1863 GLORY FOR THE HERO OF FORT SUMTER !
In December 1860, South Carolina is the first of the southern United States to declare secession. Immediately, Major Robert Anderson established himself with 81 men in Fort Sumter, near the historic city of Charleston.
This move increased the tension between Northerners and Southerners, who ultimately shelled the fort on 12 April 1861. The attack was small but symbolic, and the men of Fort Sumter were venerated by the Northerners as the first heroes of the Civil War that had just begun.
In 1863, the Colt Manufacturing Company honored Anderson with a casing containing a pair of guns model '61 Navy. Fashion of honor arms was old, and their characteristic is that they were not intended to be used and they are finely decorated. Until now, the Anderson pair remained in mint condition with all accessories still in place as in their presenting day nearly a century and a half ago. The quality of the carving is the best that Colt had produced at that time.
It is impossible to imagine such a set in a better condition. The auction house James D. Julia, which auctions it on 16 and 17 March in Fairfield, Maine, joins other items that belonged to Anderson, including his sword, medals and documents. The lot is estimated $ 1.25 million.
1863-1864 The Sixteen Shooter
2018 SOLD for $ 195K by RIAC
In both cases the improvements are the breech loading and the firing repetition by a lever. The Henry contains fifteen .44 cartridges in its tubular magazine plus one in its chamber compared to the seven shots of its competitor. A well trained soldier fires every two seconds which is sixty times speedier than with the one shot guns of the army.
The Civil War broke out in the following year. The federal army is initially reluctant to the Henry because it is too expensive and also because the rifle is dangerous when the shooting does not immediately follow the arming. The first Henry rifles are sold to private customers. In case of capture the enemy cannot use them due to a shortage of copper in the Southern states that prevents to manufacture the cartridges.
In November 1863 the Ordnance Department purchases 800 rifles from the New Haven Arms Company to equip a cavalry regiment. They are delivered in March 1864. Other orders will follow for the infantry. They were required to be used on the battlefield and the surviving units are often damaged.
One of the rifles planned for the cavalry bears the mark of the military inspection but no evidence of cavalry ownership has been found. It was transferred to the infantry shortly before the end of the war and its condition remained exceptional. It was sold for $ 195K on April 13, 2018 by RIAC, lot 7.
In 1866 Oliver Winchester upgraded the Henry rifle and acquired totally the New Haven Arms Company which became the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. Unhappy with his salary Henry did not follow.
Please watch the video shared by Rock Island Auction.
1864 pair of Presentation Remington Revolvers to Tsar Alexander II
2021 SOLD for $ 460K by RIAC
Russia supported the Union by wintering the Baltic and Pacific fleets in the ports of New York and San Francisco. They were warmly welcomed.
In April 1864, when the Russian fleet left New York, a pair of revolvers was specially engraved for presentation to the Tsar. They had been prepared by Remington from their New Model Army whose development had just been completed. Their serial numbers are the special orders 8 and 11. They are signed by the master engraver Nimschke. Their ivory grips are similarly decorated in raised relief, the left with the Russian double headed eagle and the right with the US eagle and shield.
The pair was reunited in 1991 by the current Director Emeritus of the Remington Society of America after being separated since the Russian Revolution. Both are in the same exceptionally fine condition. The pair was sold for $ 460K by RIAC in Rock Island IL on May 15, 2021, lot 1158. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
1865 colt presented a shotgun
2014 sold for $ 138k including premium
1855 model arms with a very long barrel appear from 1860. 600 shotguns are produced in .75 caliber. The barrel length of this five shot rifle is 36 inches.
A model 1855 Sidehammer presentation shotgun has just been discovered. It bears an inscription dated 1865 to mark the presentation to its first owner and had never left the family. It is estimated $ 150K, for sale by Rock Island Auction Company in Rock Island IL on December 6, lot 1277.
This gun was richly engraved, including hunting dogs. It comes with its original factory case. It retained over 95% of the brown finish of the barrel.
I invite you to play the video shared by the auction house:
1870 Rifle Artists
2013 SOLD for $ 440K by RIAC
These pieces are very rare. The press release from Sotheby's indicated that only 21 gold inlaid Colt firearms are surviving. The best artists in this specialty were Gustave Young and the three Ulrich brothers.
At the end of the Civil War, Oliver Winchester knows that his New Haven Arms Company produces the best rifle in the world. He creates the Winchester Repeating Arms Company to operate the Model 1866, an improvement of the Henry rifle.
He follows the example of Colt. In 1869, Conrad Ulrich leaves Colt and comes to New Haven for engraving and gilding Winchester rifles.
Made circa 1870, a Model 1866 ornated by Conrad (CF) Ulrich iwas sold for $ 440K from a lower estimate of $ 300K by RIAC on September 14, 2013, lot 1100.
This firearm is in exceptional condition, with 98% of its original finish. Considered as a masterpiece of the engraver, it shows the usual hunting scenes but also a rarer feature : a shy female nude on both sides of the rifle.
1870 The Silver Winchester
2016 SOLD for $ 480K by RIAC
This Winchester in excellent condition has a solid German silver frame. Only one other Model 1866 has such a feature, much more luxurious than sterling or plated silver. The rifle for sale is illustrated by hunting scenes executed with a high sharpness and a beautiful depth of field that were undoubtedly the work of one of the best engravers, Gustave Young or perhaps Conrad Ulrich.
From the serial number it can be deduced that it was made in 1870. Winchester archivists retrieved on the owner's request its shipping date from the warehouse of the company, May 6, 1878.
The owner is a descendant of Wm. P. Loper who was general manager of a circus named F. A. Robbins' New Shows. In the list of the performers Chevalier Ira Paine is identified as Master Shot of the World.
Paine was one of the best pistol shooters of his time. A sports champion turned professional, he made demonstration shows including international tours in which his skill marveled the kings. He was named chevalier of an ancient military order by the king of Portugal. A photo shows him with two rifles that lean against a table, one of which is well matching with the silver Winchester.
Now in oblivion, Paine was famous in his time and that gun may have been offered to him by Winchester or by a fan in recognition of his feats. We do not know. The current owner tells that Robbins, the owner of the circus, eloped with a girlfriend, taking with them the receipts of the season, probably in 1888. Paine presented the Winchester to his friend Loper for comforting him.
Please watch the video shared by RIAC :
1876 The Winchester Revolvers
2019 SOLD for $ 430K by RIAC
At the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876, the Winchester revolver is announced beside the Model 1876 rifle, with two options for the cartridge ejector : a fixed cylinder with thumb extraction, or a swing-out cylinder pushing a rod.
Winchester do not insist, probably discouraged by the difficulty of obtaining a contract with the US government and also with the Tsar. In July 1876, two months after the opening of the Exhibition, the revolver project is suspended.
The copy supplied for the Centennial patent is a gauge 32 pistol with a rotating ejector. It was sold for $ 63K including premium by RIAC on April 20, 2012. A 40-50 gauge revolver with a classic ejector was sold for $ 253K including premium by the same auction house on September 10, 2016.
In December 1876, Winchester unsuccessfully submit an additional copy to the US Navy. Preserved by the Navy until the 1950s, it is a revolver of 44-40 gauge and swing-out ejection. This piece was sold for $ 430K from a lower estimate of $ 250K by RIAC on September 6, 2019, lot 17. Please watch the video shared by the auction house. The three examples above are neither marked nor serialized.
The total population of Winchester revolvers is estimated at 13 prototypes, all models included, of which only 4 have the swing-out cylinder. They are however of great importance in the history of US firearms for two reasons.
In 1883 Colt attempted to enter the rifle market. Winchester used their prototypes to assess that they were ready to produce revolvers and as a consequence Colt terminated their involvement in rifles.
The rotating ejector was an important innovation that facilitated the extraction of cartridges. It will be used by Colt from 1889 and by Smith and Wesson from 1896.
2021 SOLD for $ 290K by RIAC
1870s Three Graces for a Musketeer
2016 SOLD for $ 415K by RIAC
First it is not a rifle but a musket which is a matchlock gun. The musket seems quite out of date after the Civil War. It is the only example of a Winchester musket offered in a presentation box, where it is still accompanied by its saber bayonet.
It was carved in deep relief signed by Conrad F. Ulrich. Conrad works along with his two brothers for Winchester from 1870. He is the best artist in his family, knowing to adapt the shape of his hunting illustrations to the available place around the trigger of the Model 1866. His career that spans half a century does not make possible to date the work. 1866 is only to be considered as the year of the Winchester basic features applied for this unit.
The iconography is centered on the left side by the Three Graces in the nude from Canova and on the right side by a circus girl vaulting over a galloping horse. The five other plates display animals. The back pattern of scrolls is disturbed on the left side by a disgruntled elephant moving away from the Graces.
This musket belonged to Thomas W. Palmer who was an outstanding figure in the political life of Detroit and a reformist leader of the Republican Party. He was the first president of the Detroit Museum of Arts and the president of the preparatory committee for the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Senator of Michigan from 1883 to 1889, he took positions far ahead of his time, especially for supporting the women's suffrage.
Palmer was also in 1877 the initiator and first president of the Michigan Society for the Prevention of the Cruelty to Animals. Although no document corroborates this hypothesis, we may assume that the musket was offered to him around that time. Unlike a rifle which can be used for hunting, the musket was exclusively a military arm. The Graces accentuate an atmosphere of serenity but the elephant has nevertheless some good reason to be cautious.
Please watch the video shared by Rock Island Auction Company :
The Revolver that did not fail Buffalo Bill
2012 SOLD 240 K$ including premium
Frontiersman, army scout, great hunter, helper of the railway and of the Pony Express, Buffalo Bill intensely lived all the adventures of the Far West. Still young, he became a living legend and operated his own glory in his hugely popular show, the Buffalo Bill's Wild West show.
He had survived all the dangers of the West, and was sharing his luck and his fame with his inseparable Remington revolver of which he said: "It never failed me".
It is unclear when Bill bought his Remington, a military model of the Civil War in .44 caliber. In 1906 he presented it toone of his collaborators. Bill's adventures ended in 1917, but those of his gun were not completed : it suffered some damage which necessitated rather extensive repairs.
On June 10 at Heritage in Dallas, the Remington gun is the featured piece of a lot estimated $ 200K, made up of documents and photographs coming from Bill's collaborator. Here is the link to the catalog.
POST SALE COMMENT
This nicely composed lot was sold $ 240K including premium.
1883 The Humanism of Dr. Gatling
2012 SOLD 240 K$ including premium
A weapon with a high rate of fire would indeed necessarily reduce the size of armies and thus counter the epidemics, major enemy of the troops.
The revolving battery gun is patented by Gatling in 1862, and will be operated by Colt from 1870. The charger could turn 200 rpm, a performance later increased up to 1500 rpm. It was activated by hand with a crank: the automatic machine gun will be invented by Maxim in 1884.
On April 22 in Rock Island IL, Rock Island Auction sells a Gatling Gun model 1883 manufactured by Colt, .45 caliber. It is complete of all its equipment including charger and carriage in an extraordinary original condition. This unit accepted by the U.S. Army in 1886 is estimated $ 200K.
This estimate is reasonable. I discussed earlier in this group a Gatling gun of the same model sold $ 172K including premium by Fontaine in August 2009 with later ammunition boxes. I mentioned in that article a model 1874 Gatling gun that was sold $ 230K by Rock Island Auction in September 2008.
POST SALE COMMENT
This very fine specimen was sold $ 210K before fees, 240K including premium, in the region of the lower estimate.
To introduce such a piece, nothing is better than a video. I invite you to play the video shared by Rock Island on YouTube.
1883 A CRANK OPERATED MACHINE GUN
2009 SOLD 172 K$ INCLUDING PREMIUM
War is horror in the opinion of the Confederate doctor Richard Gatling during the American Civil War. Considering that diseases killed more soldiers than what weapons did, he decided to modernize the artillery, and he succeeded. His idea was to reduce the size of armies through the increased efficiency of guns.
In 1861 he invented the machine gun, or more precisely a gravity feed system bringing the cartridges into the machine at a very high rate. On a carriage with two wheels, a floor is supporting a brass tube containing small rotating barrels. It takes four men and a crank to operate this machine gun, because it is not automatic: this development will be invented in 1884 by Maxim.
On August 15 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Fontaine's Antique Auction Gallery is selling a model 1883 Gatling gun with ten .45 steel barrels arranged in a circle and encased in a brass jacket of 1.20 m long. It was manufactured by theColt company, which had purchased the patent in 1870. It has been recently fired in showings. Ammunition boxes, made in wood, have been changed. For this piece of artillery in outstanding condition, expect 175 K$.
POST SALE COMMENT
The Gatling Gun was sold 172 K $ including charges by Fontaine's.
Here is another result : on 6 to 8 September 2008, Rock Island Auction sold for $ 230K another Gatling Gun manufactured by Colt, model 1874.
Auction result shared by News-Antique, with photo.
1899 The Train Robber turns the Arms
2012 SOLD 175 K$ before fees
Butch Cassidy was a farm lad from Utah who became a horse thief. A short stay in prison provides him with worse utchideas. On his release in 1896, he creates a gang known as the Wild Bunch for larger operations.
As we have recently discussed for Bob Dalton during the same decade, the possession of a luxury firearm marked the social position of the owner in the dangerous world of the bandits. Butch is no exception. His Colt .45 is a rare nickel plated example.
His exploits exasperate the Union Pacific RR company. Understanding that he cannot resist for long to the Pinkerton agents, Butch returns his firearms in 1899 in the hope of an amnesty. Shortly afterwards the resumption of his criminal activity is considered as a perjury.
Butch Cassidy became a popular figure in the legend of the Wild West after two controversies relating to his activity :his family always claimed that he never killed, and the announcement of his death in Bolivia in a scuffle has never been confirmed.
The Colt .45 of Butch's failed amnesty, presented with an undeniable traceability, is estimated $ 150K, for sale on September 30 in Ventura CA by California Auctioneers.
POST SALE COMMENT
The Colt of Butch Cassidy was sold $ 175K before fees, within the range of estimates. This is a very good result.
Please watch the video shared on YouTube by the auction house :
1903 Presented by Colt to Roosevelt
2011 SOLD 220 K$ including premium
The Colt factory used to offer high end copies from their production to eminent personalities. This practice of active marketing enabled them to promote the qualities of their new models.
Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt, having become president of the United States, was of course one of the beneficiaries. The "rough rider" of the Cuban war was also known as a great lover of hunting and firearms.
In 1903, Colt company is presenting to Roosevelt a semi-automatic pistol model 1902 Military. The President's interest for this specimen is confirmed by a letter preserved in the Library of Congress, making clear his intention to test that firearm.
This pistol remained in very good condition, with more than 90% of its original polish blue finish.. It is estimated $ 150K, for sale tomorrow December 3 by Rock Island Auction in Moline IL. Here is the link to the catalog.
POST SALE COMMENT
The result, $ 185K hammer price, 220K including premium, is in the middle of the range of estimates.
1909 Happy Hunting Mr President !
2016 SOLD for $ 415K including premium
During his presidency, Roosevelt was active in the protection of wild nature and the hunting regulation. Everybody knew that after the completion of his term the United States would not suffice to this keen outdoorsman. After the election of Taft in November 1908, Roosevelt prepared for the following year a gigantic safari in Africa under the scientific banner of the Smithsonian Institution.
This strong personality had friends across the political spectrum. On September 10 in Rock Island IL, RIAC sells a magnificent hunting knife presented to Roosevelt by judge Gerard, a member of the Democratic Party, on March 4, 1909, the last day of President Teddy at the White House. It is estimated in excess of $ 150K, lot 1020.
This knife is a piece of jewelry with its carved grip made by Dreicer and Co in New York in yellow gold and white gold on a platinum background. The pommel is a big eagle head with eyes in red garnet. The guard is decorated with bear heads also in the round. The blade is signed by the cutlers J. Russell and Co.
Arms linked with the 1909 safari are appreciated by connoisseurs. The Fox shotgun used by Roosevelt was sold for $ 862K including premium by James D. Julia in October 2010.
The knife offered by Gerard certainly did not follow the former president in Africa. It brought some concern to the security services in 1976 when Mrs. Ethel Roosevelt Derby aged 85 wanted to board it in a plane to Seattle. This weapon was returned to the old lady after landing and given by her two days later as a wedding present to her granddaughter. It was used to cut the cake.
Please watch the video shared by Rock Island Auction Company :
1934 DILLINGER IS ARRESTED
2009 SOLD 95 K$ INCLUDING PREMIUM
Dillinger is Dead, as Marco Ferreri said. This month, Dillinger is once again on our movie screens, as the character of Public Enemies. Heritage Auction Galleries is fortunate to benefit from this renewed interest to put on sale on July 25 in Dallas a gun that was confiscated by the police to him during an arrest.
John Dillinger, leader of a gang of bank robbers, is as famous in the history of the United States of America as Al "Scarface" Capone, who was his contemporary.
Dillinger's output is impressive. From his starting point in July 1933 until January 1934, his record of bank robbing is monthly. On January 25, in Tucson, Arizona, he was arrested. The fire had broken out in the hotel where his gang was staying, and a fireman had identified one of his followers. Then the .41 Remington gun of Double Derringer model which is the subject of this article was caught in his sock.
The auction house joins to it some official records (incomplete because there are thieves everywhere) of the arrest of Tucson, and the whole is estimated 35 K$. The catalog tells us that the police officer had presented this material as a gift to a pretty widow.
As for Dillinger, he managed to escape but was killed by police on 22 July 1934.
POST SALE COMMENT
The real adventures of Dillinger interested fans of historical memories. The result, 95 K$ premium included, exceeds what I had imagined.
1939 a presentation ppk for göring
Designed in 1931 by Walther, the PPK is a compacted version of the PP launched two years earlier by the same brand for police use. Perfectly fit for that purpose, this pocket pistol 15.5 cm long with 570 g empty weight is easy to hide before the action. It includes an effective security system that prevents the weapon from firing accidentally when the cartridges are loaded.
Let us complete the technical description by indicating that the PKK is a semi-automatic double action pistol for seven shots. Several gauges were proposed. The gun in the next sale is for the 7.65 mm.
The PKK pleased the Germans officials and was provided to the Nazi leaders. After the war, the Walther company is restarted in 1953. The PKK that also experienced further fame with James Bond is still available today, 85 years after its first release.
The Walther PKK for sale has the attributes that can appeal to Göring. The gold plated barrel and the ivory grip are covered with patterns of oak leaves and acorns in the German taste. The coat of arms with a raised fist holding a large ring invented by the aviation ace to push his victories in example is included, as well as the initials HG in Gothic letters. This demanding luxury fan did not tolerate imperfections and the carving is highly successful.
1942 The Garand Rifle
2018 SOLD for $ 290K including premium
A Canadian-born inventor, John C. Garand is passionate from his youth about the mechanism of firearms. He works from 1919 to 1953 in the research and development laboratories of the US armory at Springfield, in compliance with the standards required by the US Army and also the US Navy.
After several patents concerning the automatic loading, Garand designs the M1 rifle in 1931. One of the twenty test units was sold for $ 173K including premium by RIA on April 30, 2016.
The M1 is a semi-automatic rifle with two superimposed chambers. The expulsion of the bullet from the main chamber sends gas into the lower chamber, actuating the ejection of the empty shell and positioning the next cartridge and the reset lever. Just keep pulling the trigger to continue shooting.
The staff is convinced to have the best war rifle in the world, cheap to manufacture and easy to use. The M1 becomes the official service rifle of the US Army. Production in Springfield begins in 1937. It will exceed 5 million copies.
Garand did not seek honors but his engineering merits were acknowledged. When he retired in 1953 the Secretary of the Army offered him the M1 serial number 1000000 which had been kept intact at the armory since its manufacture in 1942. This rifle in perfect condition in its presentation case is estimated $ 225K for sale by RIA at Rock Island on September 8, lot 1362. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
1959 ASSAULT AGAINST WATERMELONS
2011 SOLD 103 K$ INCLUDING PREMIUM
AR-15 is the name of an assault rifle designed by ArmaLite and whose production was made by Colt from 1959. Its military version is the M16, first used during the Vietnam War, which was the most famous rifle of the twentieth century.
For the army, it always starts with prototypes and pre-series. One of the first twenty copies made by Colt was entrusted for test to a prestigious veteran of the US Air Force, General Curtis LeMay.
LeMay fired it himself against such enemies as watermelons and coconuts. The weapon then received the nickname of Coconut Rifle. The General was very pleased with the results and encouraged starting the mass production of the M16.
A Class III license is required to purchase this item, estimated $ 40K, for sale on October 4 by James D. Julia in Fairfield ME.
Here is the link to the image, "Provided courtesy of James D. Julia, Inc., Fairfield, Maine."
POST SALE COMMENT
The auction house had warned: the estimate was very reasonable. This war rifle was sold $ 103K including premium.