Sights set high on 18th century Royal rifle and Custer’s rare letter book

FAIRFIELD, Maine – A one of a kind German Sebastian Hauschka rifle – literally made for a king – France’s King Louis XV to be exact – is one of the feature pieces in James D. Julia Inc.’s Outstanding Firearms Auction scheduled for March 11 – 12, 2013.

Commissioned by France's King Louis XV, this stunning and ornate rifle with detailed carvings, the king's cipher and gold crowning, carries an estimate of $150,000 - $250,000. (Photo courtesy James D. Julia)

Commissioned by France’s King Louis XV, this stunning and ornate rifle with detailed carvings, the king’s cipher and gold crowning, carries an estimate of $150,000 – $250,000. (Photo courtesy James D. Julia)

The recently discovered carbine, which was manufacturered by Sebastian Hauschka, a master 18th century German gun maker who also produced armaments for other European royalty, is said to date back to 1775. The rifle measures approximately three feet three inches long and features a walnut stock, gilt silver trigger guard, octagonal barrel, polished steel lock, a snake shaped handle, and a butt encrusted with gold and silver. It is decorated with King Louis XV’s personal cypher and coat of arms inlaid in gold, as well as the figures “464″ along the toe line – the inventory number 464 from the Royal Cabinet d’Armes. The item carries an estimate of $150,000-250,000.

According to Wes Dillon, James D. Julia’s Department Head, Rare Firearms & Military Division, “Any Cabinet d’Armes gun is the greatest treasure a collector or public institution can own, but to acquire the personal gun of one of France’s great kings is a once in a generation opportunity. The offering of Louis XV’s gun is the first time in 41 years that a gun of such royal pedigree has been offered at public auction. Time will tell if this magnificent war trophy will indeed be worth a king’s ransom.”

Exquisite carvings, gold crowning and amazing craftsmanship are among the features drawing early interest in this 18th century rifle once owned by King Louis XV of France. (Photo courtesy James D. Julia)

Exquisite carvings, gold crowning and amazing craftsmanship are among the features drawing early interest in this 18th century rifle once owned by King Louis XV of France. (Photo courtesy James D. Julia)

This Louis XV rifle is equipped with a sophisticated (for the time) Lorenzoni repeating Flintlock system featuring a two-chamber horizontally-mounted rotating drum. This arrangement allowed for the gun to be repeatedly fired until its two magazines were empty. However, because of the technical difficulties involved with this very complex system, only a handful of these deluxe weapons were produced – increasing the rarity, and value, of this exceptional rifle even more.

From the historical perspective, this very important firearm has lived several “lives” so far – with its next chapter in the hands of its high bidder. Historians speculate, it was sent home by an official in the Prussian army after the fall of Napoleon in 1815. And just how did it get to the United States? Its current owner inherited it from a relative who was an American WWII officer. It was one of many guns confiscated from German citizens just after the surrender of Germany in 1945, and had been put in a giant pile of arms slated for destruction by U.S. Army engineers. This item was very ornate and stood out from the generic military hardware deposited at the site. The officer in charge, recognizing its unique character, pulled it from the pile and squirreled it away as a trophy of war – a common practice for GIs returning home at the time. The gun had remained in the family’s possession since that time.

In addition to this potential top lot, two other museum quality and historically important items also slated for sale both have ties to Lt. Col. George A. Custer. The first is a collection of Custer’s 7th Michigan Cavalry Civil War materials. The collection (presale estimate $45,000 – $65,000) includes wartime documents, letters, photographs, a Custer-only issue medal, and a sample of the Confederate Appomattox surrender flag, among other things. The second lot is a rare letter book from Custer’s Company L, 7th U.S. Cavalry. This item contains file copies of approximately 175 letters sent by various division commanders from May 1872 through January 1875. According to noted Civil War authority and scholar Doug McChristian, who cataloged this item for Julia’s, this may be the only Civil War letter book of its type in private hands.

For more information on James D. Julia, Inc., and the company’s Outstanding March Firearms Auction, please visit http://www.jamesdjulia.com.

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