FAIRFIELD, Maine —March 15-16, 2010. Auctioneer James D. Julia states that some of the most exciting things he’s ever sold in his 40-year career tend to be historically oriented pieces. Their upcoming firearms auction will feature a number of historical items. Included are numerous fine old collections or portions of collections from all over North America.
From the H. H. Thomas Estate comes an outstanding offering of firearms by the renowned Nicholas Noel Boutet. Boutet, probably one of the finest gunsmiths in the history of the world, operated out of Versailles in the late 18th and early 19th century. Napoleon himself commissioned Boutet to create various works of art in metal, which Napoleon used as special presentations and gifts to appropriate statesmen and military leaders. One magnificent cased pair of pistols by Boutet in this auction, feature 12 3/4-inch barrels having exquisite engraving and encrusted with extraordinary gold work. The stocks themselves are highly carved with superb silver inlays and incredibly intricate sterling beadwork design. This brace of pistols, together with all of their appropriate accessories and in an original Boutet case, is one of the feature items of the Thomas Collection and carries a presale estimate of $250,000-$500,000.
Another similarly decorated (but not quite as extravagant) brace of 10 1/2-inch barrel pistols currently housed in a beautiful presentation case, the presentation case itself at one time made for and with leather presentation insert in the lid to Joseph de Mazarredo, who was a famous admiral in the Spanish navy. This set carries a presale estimate of $100,000-$150,000.
Now move 90 years ahead in history to the Wild West Colorado, specifically Telluride. The lot in question is an extraordinary Cuneo Helfricht engraved and gold inlaid Colt single-action Army revolver. According to the records, it appears that of all of the 300,000 antique Colt revolvers produced over a period of approximately 30+ years, only 16 ever had gold inlay and only two of those gold inlaid ones ever carried presentation inscriptions on the backstrap, this being one of them. The backstrap and butt strap read, “From the Tom Boy Gold Mine Co., Telluride, Colorado to Robert L. Meldrum.” The gun had been on loan and display at the Museum of Northwest Colorado, in Craig, Colo., until the owner learned that the Julia auction company in March of 2009 had sold a similar gold inlaid revolver for around $750,000 and as a result, contacted Julia. While this gun is not in the spectacular condition that the Sears Colt of spring 2009 was, this has something the Sears Colt did not have: a most intriguing and exciting Western history. Meldrum apparently was a friend or acquaintance of Tom Horn. The Tom Boy Mining Company was experiencing great difficulty with organizers trying to get their workers to go out on strike and poachers stealing minerals from their claims. They unsuccessfully tried to get Horn to come work for them but he was busy at the time and referred them to Meldrum. Meldrum obviously was successful for the mining company because in 1904 they presented him with two beautifully engraved Colts — a most extravagant gift in those days. This one is by far the finer of the two with gold inlay. History about Meldrum indicates that his title “hair trigger” was well earned. During his lifetime he killed no fewer than 14 men, most “in the line of duty.” Meldrum was obviously a hard and cold man as at least two of his victims were unarmed at the time he shot them. Meldrum’s history is not only intriguing, but a bit mysterious. By the 1920s he had established a leatherwork business making saddles and holsters at which he was greatly accomplished. One night his business was burnt down, Meldrum disappeared and was never heard from again. This extraordinary pistol, with its tremendous history, carries a presale estimate of $200,000-$400,000.
Moving ahead about another 40+ years we come to Nash Buckingham and his famous Fox XE shotgun known as “Bo Whoop.” Nash Buckingham in the 1940s had established himself as one of the foremost sporting writers in the world. He was the leading sports writer in the United States and an avid waterfowl hunter. In the 1840s John Olin gave Buckingham five boxes of special 3-inch super X copper-plated shells that his firm had just developed, together with a special shotgun bored by the renowned barrel maker Burt Becker. Buckingham used and discovered (much to his satisfaction) the gun was capable of a superb shot pattern at 40 yards. It was unquestionably the best shotgun he’d ever shot and he continued to shoot it and write about it for years after. As a result of all of his writings, it became what was (and is) the most famous shotgun in all of North America. One day on a return hunting trip from down South he lost the gun and was never able to recover it. For the last 60 years shotgun enthusiasts had assumed that the gun was lost forever. This recent discovery and consignment to the Julia Auction Company has created a tremendous stir amongst shotgun enthusiasts both here and abroad. Now recovered, the gun is estimated to sell between $100,000 and $200,000.
In addition to these and many other historical items are some terrific collections, many of which are fresh to the market. They include but are not limited to the Colonel Ken Brown Collection of antique Colts; the collection of the late John Irving of Texas including rare Colts and other fine firearms; the notable collection of Boutet pistols from the collection of the late H. H. Thomas of Kentucky; Florida Edmunds Collection of rare Confederate arms; the spectacular collection of U.S. Martial arms from Charles Radcliff of New York; the Class III collection of the late Dr. Alan Brown of Mississippi as well as the collection of rare single-shot rifles from the late David Sobel of New Jersey.
There will be another segment of a collection of rare Springfield military arms from the collection of Bob Rosenthal of Pennsylvania as well as another outstanding selection of Class III weapons. From the collection of the late Dr. Alan Brown comes a Johnson Model 1941 light machinegun, caliber 30-06 estimated at $20,000-$30,000. Also from the Brown Collection is an M60 machinegun by Rock Island, fully transferable, in 7.62 caliber estimated at $15,000-$20,000. A fine Class III from another collection includes a very rare FN MK-46 Mod-0 machinegun, which is a pre-86 dealer sample in caliber 223/5.56 mm. This ultra-rare gun is estimated at $40,000-$60,000.
Military weapons include another segment of the renowned Bob Rosenthal Collection of Springfield 03s. Most of these weapons are extraordinarily rare and important; many of which are featured in Brophy’s book on Springfield arms. Included from the Rosenthal collection is an extraordinary, complete and original Springfield Model 1903 Rod Bayonet estimated at $30,000-$40,000. Also an extremely rare Springfield Model 1903 carbine, one of two made at the Springfield armory. This exact carbine is pictured in Brophy’s book on pages 83 and 84 and featured in other books. It carries a presale estimate of $35,000-$50,000. Another standout is a pair of Springfield arsenal tool room heavyweight rifles built for the world famous target shooter Captain E. C. Crossman. This very important pair carries a presale estimate of $60,000-$80,000. A rare BSW Hermann Goering presentation double rifle Drilling replete with engraving with gold presentation to Goering dated 1938. This outstanding gun in superb condition at one time was presented to one of Nazi Germany’s leaders, who was also an avid collector of firearms, carries a presale estimate of $30,000-$50,000.
American Colt 45s include a rare cased set of Colt Super 38 and ACE semi-auto pistols presented to Major Julian S. Hatcher. The pair is estimated at $30,000-$40,000.
The second portion of the March 15 sale includes rare and superb high-grade shotguns and sporting rifles. In addition to Buckingham’s “Bo Whoop” are other Nash Buckingham ephemera including the original manuscript for his book “Tattered Coat.” This manuscript by one of the world’s leading sports writers carries a presale estimate of $8,000-$12,000. Also featured is a fine selection of Parkers, including an AH Grade, 16-gauge estimated at $25,000-$35,000.
LC Smith’s include a desirable specialty grade .410 in outstanding condition and estimated at $30,000-$40,000. An Ithaca Sousa Model single barrel trap in 12 gauge with gold inlays in extremely fine condition is estimated at $17,500-$22,500. A Winchester Model 21 Grand American three barrel small gauge set with Huey case and having gold inlays is estimated at $50,000-$75,000.
One of the most popular repeating shotguns is the Winchester Model 42 pump. Included in this auction is the original prototype for this extremely popular shotgun. It has descended in the family of the original designer of the gun. The presale estimate is $65,000-$95,000.
A selection of quality European and English shotguns include an F. Lli Rizzini R-1E by master engraver Mario Terzi with gold inlay in 28 gauge. This cased gun in unfired condition is estimated at $85,000-$125,000. A cased Boss 20 bore over/under single-trigger ejector gun is estimated at $65,000-$95,000. A very fine pair of cased Boss best quality side lock ejector guns in 12 bore is estimated at $30,000-$50,000. A matched pair of Purdey and Sons side lock game guns in 12 gauge is estimated at $42,500-$52,500. A pair of David McKay Brown round action over/under single trigger side lock ejector guns in 20 bore is estimated at $55,000-$75,000. A possibly unique James Purdey & Son’s hammer under lever cased 8-bore rifle is estimated at $60,000-$80,000.
Session II begins on March 16 with a number of brass frame Winchesters including a martially marked Henry lever action from the Charles Radcliff Collection that is estimated at $25,000-$40,000. A scarce Henry marked Model 66 saddle ring carbine in exceptionally fine condition is estimated at $30,000-$40,000 and a deluxe factory engraved Model 66 in very good condition is estimated at $25,000-$35,000. A number of fine deluxe Winchesters include an extraordinary silver and nickel Winchester Model 1876 caliber 45-60, estimated at $60,000-$80,000. A desirable factory-engraved M86 with engraved Moose on the receiver in fine condition is estimated at $25,000-$35,000.
Immediately after the offering of Winchesters will commence an array of high quality Colt revolvers; a number of exceptional plated and engraved examples include a cased Nimschke Colt SAA in very fine to extremely fine condition, estimated at $70,000-$100,000. A Wilbur Glahn factory engraved Colt SAA in extremely fine plus condition is estimated at $55,000-$75,000. A very rare Colt Pall Mall London flat top target revolver in caliber 455 boxer, in extremely fine condition is estimated at $27,500-$37,500. A US Colt 1861 conversion, formerly in the US Cartridge Company Collection and in very fine to extremely fine condition, is estimated at $55,000-$75,000.
From a private East Coast collection is a rosewood case engraved pair of Colt Model 1851 Navy revolvers. Complete with all the accessories and having eagle carved ivory grips, the pair is estimated at $50,000-$60,000. A nearly new cased Model 7 1855 Root “Charter Oak” is believed to be the only model 7 “Charter Oak” in existence. An extraordinary showpiece in the finest of condition, it carries a presale estimate of $115,000-$135,000.
The Dr. Robert Bettis Collection is included in the second day and includes an array of 1849 Colts. In fact, this auction probably has the finest presentation of 1849 Colts ever offered at auction. Amongst the Bettis, Brown and Irwin Collections (and others) the most notable is a double cased pair of 49 percussions in fine to very fine condition estimated at $15,000-$25,000. The Colonel Ken Brown Collection of Colts also features a number of quality Colts. Included is a rare Colt first model 51 Navy in very fine to extremely fine condition estimated at $25,000-$40,000. Another historic engraved cased Root with inscription on backstrap “James E. Birch from the inventor Sam Colt.” This rare Colt was presented to James Birch who was owner of the “Jackass Mail.” This was the first real “fast” mail to the West. The line ran from San Antonio Texas to San Diego from July 9, 1857, to December 1858 and predated the much more well-known “Pony Express.” This cased piece of history in very good to fine condition is estimated at $10,000-$15,000.
The first attempts at a military hospital took place during the Civil War with the development of the Sanitary Commission. A couple of fine and rare US Sanitary Commission presentation guns are included, but more importantly an extraordinary San Francisco California silver presentation service presented to the President of the US Sanitary Commission, Henry W. Bellows. The service, made by San Francisco’s foremost silversmith Mr. William Keiser Vanderslice, weighs over 31 pounds. The tray with extraordinary engraving includes four vignettes of famous California scenes. The entire service at one time was part of the American Red Cross Museum display. It carries a presale estimate of $20,000-$35,000. Another outstanding offering of Civil War memorabilia will include a spectacular Confederate battle flag captured at the Gettysburg Campaign. The flag, which was presented to a notable Maine politician George P. Sewall, is being consigned directly from the family and is one of the finest of its type to come to market in years. More importantly, it is believed to be the only Confederate Gettysburg-related captured flag currently in private hands; it carries a presale estimate of $125,000-$175,000. An exceedingly rare Charleston neck “servant” slave tag dated 1848 has unique serrated edges and is the only one known to exist of this type. It is estimated at $12,000-$15,000. A high-grade presentation sword to Brigadier General Andrew Dennison of the US Vols from Maryland features a beautiful full-figured Liberty figure hilt and carries a presale estimate of $60,000-$80,000.
Once again are rare items from the Fred Edmunds Collection including a Confederate baby LeMat Percussion revolver. One of the best examples known, it carries a presale estimate of $75,000-$125,000. The Charles Radcliff Collection of US Martial firearms and swords is one of the finest of its type to come to auction in many years. One rare sword, an 1814 N. Star American Cavalry officer’s saber is only one of two known. This one in great condition carries a conservative presale estimate of $12,000-$15,000. Mr. Radcliff’s Collection of martial pistols is outstanding and includes some rare examples such as a North & Cheney 1799 Contract pistol estimated at $40,000-$50,000. Another rare martial pistol from another collection is the Tryon five-shot superposed flint pistol. These pistols were purportedly ordered by Commodore Baimbridge during the War of 1812, there were only 50 of these ever made and this is one of only a handful known to exist. This truly outstanding and rare martial arm carries a presale estimate of $100,000-$150,000.
There are many rare and desirable martial arms in this collection and they feature pieces acquired from many important collections such as the C. Meade Paterson Collection, the Robert Howard Collection, and the Bill Locke Collection just to name a few. Kentucky rifles include a beautiful and exceptional relief-carved golden age Peter Berry Kentucky rifle. This is even rarer in the fact that it is an original flint example of this important maker’s work and carries a presale estimate of $30,000-$45,000.
In addition to the magnificent Boutet arms mentioned earlier from the Thomas Collection is a truly spectacular cased set of ivory-stocked LePage percussion pistols with gold inlay, estimated at $70,000-$100,000. In addition to the baby LeMat mentioned earlier from the Edmunds collection is an extraordinarily rare 1858 LeMat prototype. This side rimfire percussion revolver was developed by LeMat himself, and, while it was never mass produced, this example had remained in LeMat’s own personal collection until his death. It comes from the renowned LeMat authority and collector Alain Serpette from Paris, France (Julia’s sold the rest of the Serpette Collection some years earlier). This one is estimated conservatively at $35,000-$45,000.
Catalogs for the James D. Julia Auction are available at $39 for each session or $70 for both. Preview for the Julia auction are March 12-14, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day and also 8-10 a.m. sale mornings. For further details, call James D. Julia Auctioneers at 207-453-7125, or visit www.jamesdjulia.com, where the complete catalog can be viewed online.
Photos courtesy James D. Julia Auctions.
MORE RESOURCES FOR ANTIQUES ENTHUSIASTS
*Great Books, CDs, Price Guides & More
*Share YOUR Thoughts in the Antique Trader Forums
*Check out our FREE Online Classified Ads
*Sign up for your FREE AntiqueTrader.com e-mail newsletter
*Visit the Antique Trader blog for the latest news and views from the Antique Trader editors
*Enter the Antique Trader Treasure Hunt Sweepstakes