Important Civil War museum collection at Fontaine’s

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — John Fontaine’s auction house is now known for holding themed auctions. Generally, the house seeks a general mix of high quality furniture, lamps and decorative arts. Fontaine’s Aug. 15 sale of 500 lots will include important Civil War artifacts items from the American Heritage Room Museum at Eastover Resort of Lenox, Mass. Dorothy Winsor, owner of the resort announced on May 4 the resort will close in November because of harsh economic conditions.

The artifacts have been on display at the resort for the last 48 years, the lifetime collection of Winsor’s father, the late George J. Bisacca. It has been called one of the largest privately owned Civil War collections in the world. 

The auction is composed mainly of Civil War items from the museum, however it will include some items from the Spanish-American War and World War II.

“The initial reaction to the news within the collecting community has been tremendous,” he said. “Mr. Bisacca owned an astounding, museum-quality collection that will be selling to the highest bidder, without reserve. This is an opportunity for collectors that may never come along again.”

Central to the auction will be a Colt M 1883 Gatling Gun which is expected to sell for more than $300,000. The Gatling Gun had ten barrels and pumped out over 600 rounds per minute.

The cannons in Mr. Bisacca’s collection are no less impressive. These include a British 1812 Naval mount cannon, a Coehorn mortar cannon, an 1861 Civil War ordnance rifled cannon with CSA markings, a Mann Smooth Bare prototype cannon, a Mann rifled prototype cannon, an 1892 Hotchkiss mountain rifled cannon, other cannons, and cannonballs.

Bisacca died in 1983. His collection has remained, virtually untouched and on display, at the Eastover Resort ever since. He was an Italian immigrant who came from humble beginnings, only making it through the ninth grade. But he developed a fierce passion for the Civil War and devoured countless books on the subject. He also went on excursions to hunt for relics from the era.

The sale takes place at Fontaine’s Auction Gallery in Pittsfield, Mass. For more information visit www.fontainesauction.net or call 413-448-8922. Online bidding will be facilitated by LiveAuctioneers.com and Proxibid.com, and directly through the Fontaine’s Web site, www.fontainesauction.net. Phone and absentee bids will also be accepted.

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