Jesse James gun, effects to be sold during James D. Julia’s extraordinary firearms auction Oct. 6-7

FAIRFIELD, Maine — Upon examination, the James D. Julia Oct. 6-7 firearms auction is one of a very special nature. For the last five or six years, the Julia firm has been a leader in the sale of quality, high-end firearms. Indeed, their auctions during that time have averaged $10 million each. In October 2008, just as the economy fell into an abyss, the Julia auction grossed $12 million and set a new world record for a single firearm at auction at nearly $1 million. This past March, in the continuing economic downturn, Julia’s auction grossed $11.5 million. This gross, depending upon which competitor you compare them to, was from 2 to 10 times higher than anyone else in the world during that same time period.

However, Julia’s October 2009 sale, no matter how you measure it, is the mother of them all. Regardless of the comparative basis, the combination of diversity, quality, rarity, and value exceeds anything the Julia firm has ever put forth before. This extraordinary auction, based on the current offerings in the sale, has the potential to exceed anything ever accomplished. Guns of incredible pedigree, quality, condition, rarity and value are almost commonplace in this sale and representative of some of the most significant collector names in the industry and drawn from various estates from all over the country. The offering includes collections or portions thereof from no fewer than four members of the prestigious “American Society of Arms Collectors (ASAC).”

Session 1, Oct. 6, begins with a formidable offering of rare and desirable Class III items. Most notable is a rare, historic Russian AK47 automatic weapon, captured during the famous Vietnam “Tet Offensive.” This AK47 was taken from the body of one of the attackers at the U.S. Embassy walls, and is accompanied by various documents affirming its history. The gun carries what is considered an extremely conservative estimate of $30,000 to $50,000, but because of its historic significance could far exceed that. In the last few years, Julia’s has distinguished themselves to become one of the world’s leaders in marketing rare Class III firearms. This sale also includes a number of other Class III items, including an early M60 machine gun by the Rock Island Armory. This gun (fully transferable) in cal. 308, carries a presale estimate of $20,000 to $30,000.

A number of rare firearms from the Peter Wainwright Collection (ASAC member) includes an ultra-rare Remington Model 1917 Mark II, the only 1917 rifle cut for a Pedersen device, with complete and unique Pedersen device, carries a presale estimate of $30,000 to $50,000.

A number of rare Springfields will be offered including, one from the collection of the late Carl Metz, which is an extremely rare Springfield Model 1903 bolt action military rifle with ramrod bayonet carrying a presale estimate of $15,000 to $30,000. Also included is an extraordinarily rare factory engraved Colt Model 1902 Sporting semi-automatic pistol. This is the only one known to exist and because of its rarity and fabulous condition it carries a presale estimate of $80,000 to $125,000. Numerous other military handguns are being offered, including an extremely rare Hino-Komuro blow-forward semi-auto pistol. This exceedingly rare Japanese semi-automatic pistol, one of a very limited production, carries a presale estimate of $20,000 to $30,000. 

In their last sale, Julia’s sold a Sharps rifle that had been used by Tom Selleck in his movie Quigley Down Under. In keeping with the macho movie star image, this sale also includes a number of items from the estate of the late Lee Marvin. One of the offerings will be a 1911 A1-style movie prop, non-gun that was used in Lee Marvin’s movie Delta Force, which he starred in with Chuck Norris. This ‘gun’ carries a presale estimate of $10,000 to $15,000.

Following the Session I military offerings will be the finest collection of high-art quality shotguns and double rifles ever offered by the Julia firm. The offering consists of over 300 examples with an approximate presale estimate of $5-$6 million. The offering includes tremendous rarities in both American-made shotguns as well as European-made shotguns. The most valuable lot is a genuine true pair of Parker A-1 specials with case. This is the only known pair of consecutively numbered 20 gauge guns ever made. This phenomenal offering, from a single-owner private collection, carries a presale estimate of $350,000 to $450,000. Many other high-grade Parkers will also be offered. One such example is a 12 gauge BHE double barrel Parker shotgun, which is engraved on each side of the breech with a lady wearing a wide-brimmed hat resembling Annie Oakley. At the time Julia’s sales coordinator Wes Dillon picked up the collection, the owner indicated that conventional opinion was that this may have been made for Annie Oakley or her husband Frank Butler. Dillon later contacted the Parker archives and—much to his surprise and elation—discovered that Frank Butler, Annie’s husband, actually had ordered the gun and so most definitely belonged to the Butler-Oakley family. The shotgun carries a conservative presale estimate of $30,000 to $50,000.

In addition to high-art shotguns, is an outstanding selection of high quality sporting rifles. A J. Purdey sidelock ejector, double rifle with dies and case in caliber .369 Purdey in magnificent condition is estimated at $55,000 to $85,000. A John Rigby and Co, best sidelock ejector double rifle made for the Maharajah of Alwar with case in caliber .375 is estimated at $38,000 to $48,000. An exceptionally fine Hartmann and Weiss takedown magazine rifle with scope and lovely gold inlay and case, in caliber 250/3000 is estimated at $35,000 to $50,000.

In addition to high-grade shotguns and sporting rifles is a grouping of very rare, antique, flintlock, side-by-side shotguns. Most notable of the lot is an exceedingly rare and important James Purdey double barrel flint shotgun in 16 gauge estimated at $50,000 to $70,000. Fine English flint rifles and handguns include a spectacular pair of cased Joseph Manton flintlock dueling pistols in outstanding condition, estimated at $30,000 to $40,000.

Rounding out the first day will be a small, select offering of quality single shot rifles including a wonderful Winchester Model 1885 high-wall Schutzen rifle estimated at $11,000 to $15,000. The first day ends with an offering of Winchester rifles including some fine Model 70s.

Session II (Oct. 7) begins with Winchesters from various other collections. The offering is diverse in quality, rarity and value. Among the offerings is a rare special order 1st Model Winchester Deluxe 94 cal. 38-55 is estimated at $20,000 to $30,000. A wonderful, engraved, presentation Model 92 presented by Buffalo Bill to his friend John Young Nelson is inscribed “The Biggest and Best Liar I Have Ever Known.” This historic and humorous piece is estimated at $22,000 to $35,000. An extremely rare and desirable Winchester Model 1873, 1 of 1,000, cal. 44 WCF is estimated at $80,000 to $125,000. Once again a number of Brass rifles are included.

Following the Session II Winchester offerings will be the second session of the Dr. Joseph A. Murphy collection of rare and historic Colt firearms. Dr. Murphy’s collection, based on rarity, condition, quality and value, is the most significant offering of firearms ever in the history of firearms auctions. His collection numbers just slightly over 100 pieces but the average value per lot is staggering. Many of the Colts in his collection are some of the finest known to exist and the sale of his collection has been divided into three sessions. The first, sold in March of this year at Julia’s, realized well over $5 million.

This session includes a number of important and historic examples and begins with an extraordinary, rare, cased, engraved Colt Model 1 Baby or Pocket Model Paterson revolver. Known as the very first engraved Colt revolver ever produced, this extraordinary historic piece is estimated at $400,000 to $700,000. The very next lot, equally as rare and important is an extraordinary, rare, factory engraved cased Colt #5 Holster Model Texas Paterson believed, at one time, to belong to Samuel Colt. Not only are the engraving and inlays similar to one from Colt’s personal collection at the Wadsworth Atheneum, but this one bears SN 985, which is even more compelling as proof of the ownership by Colt, as the one at Wadsworth Atheneum has cylinder #985. One of Colt’s early sales features was that each gun was not specially hand made, but rather made of parts that were interchangeable, and clearly at one time, when Colt’s guns were cleaned, the cylinder from 985 was inadvertently replaced in 984 where it resides now at the Wadsworth Atheneum. This gun is estimated at $550,000 to $950,000.

Most notable of offerings in this session of the Murphy collection is an extraordinary rare, double cased, pair of engraved presentation Colt Model 1861 Navy revolvers. These are the finest 1861’s known to exist and were presented to Major General James B. McPherson Civil War hero and at one time, head of the Army of Tennessee. McPherson, a heroic officer killed in the line of duty, was presented these Samuel Colt guns by his friends sometime during his war years. This coveted pair of revolvers carries a presale estimate of $875,000 to $1.1 million.

As significant as the Murphy collection is, the auction also includes other rare and important Colts from various collectors. Notable is the important Kornbrath engraved, gold inlaid Colt single Action Army revolver. Only 16 gold inlaid Colt single action revolvers have been known to be originally made, and during that time, there was a set of triplets made in consecutive serial numbers with the exact same engraving and gold inlay. This set of triplets was presented to the president of Argentina, Marcelo T. Alvear. One of those three triplets will be offered in this sale; the winning bidder will have the right to purchase one or both of the remaining triplets by private treaty from the consignor. This single example carries a presale estimate of $175,000 to $225,000.

Another important engraved antique Colt is an exceedingly rare Colt Rimfire single action, which is considered to be the finest engraved Rimfire single action in existence and carries a presale estimate of $200,000 to $300,000.

A small offering of Marlin firearms is headed by a rare, deluxe engraved, gold inlaid Model 1893 takedown rifle in 30-30 cal. This is embellished with game scenes and carries a presale estimate of $50,000 to $65,000. A rare and extraordinary cased pair of royal quality Manceaux percussion target pistols, lavishly encrusted with gold embellishments is inscribed “From the King of France to Captain Cochran, 1843” (Cochran was a famous inventor), and this extraordinary pair carries a presale estimate of $25,000 to $50,000.

One of the most historical firearms in this auction is the old Colt 1860 Army percussion revolver and holster rig that at one time belonged to the most notorious outlaws of all times, Jesse James. It is believed that Jesse carried this gun when he was with Quantrill’s Raiders and merely a teenager. Unlike most Jesse James guns today, this one carries an impeccable pedigree. At the time of Jesse’s death, the gun was given by his wife, together with other effects of Jesse James, to his closest and personal friends, his two cousins, who had ridden with him with Quantrill’s Raiders. The gun’s holster, with a unique scarlet and engraved belt buckle, has Jesse’s scratched signature on two places. However, more importantly, within the year after Jesse’s cousins were given the gun and holster rig, they had their picture taken at Winans Photography Rooms in Independent, Mo. At that time they very proudly wore and brandished the holster rig and pistol. Accompanying the lot, which came directly from an 82-year-old descendant of the original cousin who inherited the gun, is an affidavit of history along with a large compilation of paperwork, genealogy, etc. This lot carries a presale estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. The other cousin got the 19th century trunk, in which the goods were stored. This trunk will be offered immediately after the Jesse James gun and holster rig, and carries a presale estimate of $7,500 to $12,500; it also carries an affidavit.

Another historical lot is an extraordinary rare engraved and gold-plated Stevens Lord single shot target pistol. This three-barrel set pistol once belonged to renowned international shooter, Ira Payne, one of the earliest and, at that time, most famous of international shooters. He traveled not only through this country but abroad, and received numerous awards and was an incredible shot. This lot, including the pistol, scrapbook, poster and examples of some of the rare target balls he had invented himself, make up an important, interesting and historic lot estimated at $100,000 to $125,000.

A wooden box/chest is filled with reminiscent and various effects of William Pitt, who was an 1849 Gold Rush participant. Included amongst these effects are two large images of gold mining fields, one showing a village of huts and another featuring a cluster of miners standing outside cabins. This entire grouping, consigned directly from a descendant of Mr. Pitt (a resident of Maine), is being offered in a complete lot estimated at $10,000 to $20,000.

Julia’s firearms auctions have regularly featured rare and important Civil War and Confederate items, and this auction has two stellar offerings. The renowned sword collection of the late Bill Osborn features a number of outstanding rarities. A Leech & Rigdon Cavalry officer’s saber, at one time belonging to Colonel Harvey Walker, carries a presale estimate of $65,000 to $90,000. Also offered is the Confederate staff and field officers sword of Edward Payne, 59 Alabama CSA is also estimated at $65,000 to $90,000.

Also the collection of renowned collector Fred Edmunds (ASAC, member), which includes a portion of his rare Confederate swords, but also some spectacular Confederate revolvers. Included is a Dance Brothers confederate revolver, cal. 44 conversion. This extremely rare example, in outstanding condition, carries a presale estimate $50,000 to $60,000. A very historic and beautiful Confederate flag captured from the famous John Hunt Morgan will also be offered. General F.G. Burbridge (known as the Butcher of Kentucky) who captured the flag was successful in driving Morgan from Kentucky and was brevetted, and for his successes received a Major General’s commission. The flag is estimated at $40,000 to $60,000. His Major General’s commission, signed by Abraham Lincoln, is also included and is in outstanding condition and is estimated at $8,000 to $12,000.

Early flint and percussion firearms are also included in the sale.

In addition to the Julia auction, which will take place Oct. 6-7, his sister’s company, The Poulin Auction Company, will conduct an auction Oct. 3-5. Their auction will include much of the Carl Metz collection of Springfield rifles, a good portion of the Ted Knee collection of Florida together with numerous other arms from early flint and cartridge examples all the way up to modern day examples. Whether you are looking for a gun to hunt with, to target practice or an addition to your gun collection, the Poulin Auction Company will have what you are looking for with over 1,500 items. Lavish brochures, and a fully described catalog featuring photographs of some of the guns, can be obtained by contacting the Poulin Auction Company at 207-453-2114.

More information on the Julia auction can be obtained by going to their Web site at or calling 207-453-7125, or contacting them at 203 Skowhegan Road, Fairfield, ME 04937. Full-color brochures are available free of charge; full-color, detailed and illustrated catalogs are also available. Session 1 and Session 2 catalogs are available for $39 each or purchase both for $75.

Photos courtesy James D. Julia Auctions.

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