Militaria sells especially well in Philip Weiss auction


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Confederate officer's cavalry saber made by Thomas Griswold & Co. of New Orleans ($4,290).

OCEANSIDE, N.Y. – A historic archive comprising nine ambrotype and daguerreotype images of James A. Garfield – taken in the 1850s and the first known images of the slain president – sold for $21,470 at a massive weekend sale held July 31-Aug. 2 by Philip Weiss Auctions. Around 1,200 lots in a broad array of categories changed hands, with military items doing especially well.

The Garfield archive included a 1/4-plate 1855 daguerreotype of the president and his family, identified in his own handwriting; a 1/4-plate daguerreotype of the Rudolphs (the parents of Garfield’s wife); a 1/4-plate daguerreotype of Garfield’s sister and two other people; and a 1/9-plate daguerreotype of Garfield at about age 26. In Garfield’s diary (written in Latin), he references two sittings from 1852.

“Overall, we were pleased with the results of the sale,” said Philip Weiss. “Most of the lots did as-expected or better. As for attendance, we probably had around 1,000 bidders combined over the course of the three days, in-house and on the Internet.” Online bidding was facilitated by Proxibid. “Day three, when the military items came up for bid, provided the real ‘oomph’ for the sale,” Mr. Weiss said.

The July 31 session was dedicated to toy trains – around 450 lots. The Aug. 1 session was packed with transportation items, advertising memorabilia, items from the estate of Ken Schultz (ocean liner, World’s Fair and Hollywood collectibles), china, silver, railroadiana, automotive material and other items. Aug. 2 featured mainly military and historical items, plus some Hollywood memorabilia.

Following are additional highlights from the auction. All prices quoted include a 13 percent buyer’s premium.

An original song sheet penned in ink during the Civil War by Capt. Isaac Hart and written expressly for the Richmond Prison Association and Libby Prison, rose to $5,085. The unusual item had the official seal of the Association (and the slogan “Bite and be damned”) on the reverse. Also, one lot of two military bayonets with scabbards, one marked “U.S. 1900” (the year of manufacture), hit $2,090.

A Confederate officer’s cavalry saber made by Thomas Griswold & Company (New Orleans) hammered for $4,290. The end of the blade was marked with the name of the manufacturer, which was formed around 1845 by Henry Thomas and Arthur Breese Griswold. The company made swords for Confederate troops during the Civil War. This example had the original grip and a nice 35-inch blade.

Most everyone is familiar with the iconic “I Want You For U.S. Army” recruiting poster, but not so known is the fact that the poster was first introduced during World War I. This auction featured one of those very posters, from 1917, and it sold for $2,935. The artist was James Montgomery Flagg. The poster – about 30 inches by 40 inches – had some light edge and corner wear, plus light foxing marks.

An archive of material pertaining to U.S. Navy shipman Richard Lisle, who achieved the rank of Apprentice First Class and who served aboard the U.S.S. Olympia (Admiral Dewey’s flagship) during the Spanish-American War, climbed to $2,599. The archive included some emblems, as well as a medal presented to shipman Lisle by Admiral Dewey for his participation in the battle of Manila, in 1898.

A 19th-century U.S. percussion musket with the original ramrod made a bull’s eye for $1,355. The bolster was marked “HP,” the lock was marked “1830, Springfield, Eagle, U.S.” and the barrel was marked “1863” at the tang, indicating the musket had been modified piecemeal over time. The weapon also carried the U.S. Inspector’s mark of “S” on the lock sideplate and a “DB” mark on the trigger plate.

Philip Weiss Auctions’ next big sale will be yet another three-day extravaganza, slated for the weekend of Sept. 11-13. The Sept. 11 session, starting at 4 p.m., will feature over 600 lots of toy soldiers, including Courtenays, Britains, Mignots, Manoils, Barclays and a single-owner collection of rare Elastolins. Also featured will be large group lots and boxed sets of Mignots from a single collector.

Then, on Sept. 12, beginning promptly at 10 a.m., items from dozens of estates will come up for bid, to include toys, toy trains and general collectibles. Highlights promise to be several estate collections of Lionel trains (many circa 1940s-’60s, with the original boxes), mixed toy lots (to include 1950s-’60s Baby Boomer toys), and two great original Peanuts comic strips by Charles Schulz.

Like in the previous sale, the best will be saved for last when, on Sept. 13, more than 600 lots of outstanding, fresh-to-the-market estate merchandise will cross the block. The centerpiece of the session will doubtless be an astounding 5-pound pearl measuring six inches in length. The brain-shaped specimen is a giant non-nacreous natural blister pearl, found in the waters off the Philippines.

A team of expert gemologists analyzed the pearl, using digital radiography, close magnification and data provided by a hand-held X-Ray fluorescence (XRF) unit. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime look at one of nature’s most unique treasures,” said Mitch Jakubovic, a gemologist with EGL USA. “A pearl this size is not only the largest one we’ve ever seen, it is among the largest pearls ever seen anywhere.”

Other items to be sold that weekend will include many rare clocks (among them a 21 1/2-inch Boulle mantel clock with brass plates engraved “Gaudron Paris,” inlaid metal and mother of pearl), numerous original works of art (many of them by noted, listed artists), porcelains and other decorative accessories, wonderful period furniture from a prominent Long Island estate, and other consignments.

Philip Weiss Auctions is always accepting quality consignments for future sales. To consign an item, an estate or an entire collection, call 516-594-0731 or e-mail phil@prwauctions.

To learn more about the company and its calendar of upcoming sales, to include the Sept. 11-13 weekend sale, visit www.prwauctions.com. Updates are posted frequently.

Photos courtesy of Philip Weiss Auctions.

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An archive of 9 ambrotype and daguerreotype images pertaining to James A. Garfield brought $21,470.
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Material from U.S. Navy shipman Richard Lisle, who fought in the Spanish-American War ($2,599).
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One lot comprising two military bayonets with scabbards, one of them marked "U.S. 1900" ($2,090).
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19th-century U.S. percussion musket with the original ramrod, modified with parts from different years ($1,355).
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Original song sheet penned in ink during the Civil War by Capt. Isaac Hart, for Libby Prison ($5,085).

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