More than 1,270 lots of unique, rare and historic arms and militaria in gun auction


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Rare American Clip-Point Bowie Knife, by H. Huber. Photos courtesy Greg Martin Auctioneers.

IRVINE, Calif. — Greg Martin Auctions’ sale on June 26-27 features an exceptional range of antique arms and militaria, including items from noted collections – many coming to auction for the very first time. The two-day live event will be held for the first time at Greg Martin Auctions’ offices in Irvine, Calif. Because of the offerings’ diversity, the auction will be grouped in four sessions: Fine Antique & Collectible Arms; Collectible Colts & Winchesters and Native American Artifacts; Modern Military and Commercial Firearms; and Sporting Arms and Fine Japanese Swords & Fittings.

Among the more than 1,270 lots to come up for bid are from a number of noteworthy collections:

One grouping features more than 50 prestigious, highly collectible pistols and rifles from the collection of the late Joe Buffer and his son Brian Buffer. The elder Buffer was known by collectors nationwide for his assemblage of the finest conditioned and collectible German, American and Japanese pistols, rifles and artifacts, which were amassed over 40 years. He was a highly decorated ex-Marine serving in both World War II and Korea who retired at the rank of Master Sergeant. Brian Buffer retired as a police officer from Redondo Beach, Calif., after 22 years of service. The Joe and Brian Buffer Collection includes Lot 3217, a 1940 Krieghoff Luger Semi-Automatic Pistol, with Complete Krieghoff Rig, estimated at $7,000 to $9,000. 

Additionally, more than 800 items from the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum will be offered at Greg Martin Auctions over various sales. Located in Oklahoma City, Okla., the museum is America’s premier institution of Western history, art and culture, with annual attendance of over 250,000. According to Richard Rattenbury, Curator of History, the items to be deaccessioned at Greg Martin Auctions are duplicates of others in the museum, of lesser condition, or outside of its interpretive scope. All funds raised at auction will go into the Acquisition Fund to add to or maintain the museum’s collections. 

Items to be sold by the museum include firearms and militaria such as clothing, cartridge cases and insignia. One noteworthy item in the June sale is Lot 4026: a Fine Custom-Built and Scroll-Engraved Double Barrel L.C. Smith A2 Grade Sidelock Shotgun, Presented to W.F. “Doc” Carver by L.C. Smith Co. (Estimate:  $10,000-$20,000) One of the most remarkable sporting shots of the late 19th century, Doc Carver was a friend of Buffalo Bill Cody, Wild Bill Hickok and General Philip Sheridan.  With some of his $80,000 in prize winnings from 1882, Doc Carver originated the Wild West Show with Buffalo Bill Cody. 

The June auction also features an exceptional assemblage of fine Japanese edged weapons and fittings, from a Southern collector. More than 50 lots are presented for sale, including diverse swords, tantos, tsubas, kodzukas and fuchi kashiri sets.

According to Greg Martin, principal of the firm bearing his name, the June auction offers a tremendous range of product. “This auction’s offerings transcend quite a few strata within the arms collecting world,” said Martin. “In addition, many items are from acclaimed private collections that have never before come to market at auction. Buyers seeking quality and diversity will be delighted.”

Both the sale on Saturday and Sunday, June 26-27, and previews prior to the event will be held at Greg Martin Auctions’ Irvine offices – a new venue for the live auction. The two-day sale will be held in four sessions: beginning at noon on Saturday, June 26, Session I presents Fine Antique & Collectible Arms; Session II follows immediately with Collectible Colts & Winchesters, and Native American Artifacts. Starting at noon on Sunday, June 27, Session III offers Modern Military and Commercial Firearms; Session IV follows immediately with Sporting Arms and Fine Japanese Swords & Fittings. Greg Martin Auctions’ offices are located at 2152 Alton Parkway, Suite K, Irvine, Calif. Auction Previews are held from 10 am-5 pm at the same location through June 25.

Highlights of the June auction include:

Lot 1267: Rare Model 1876 Gatling Gun, on Wheeled Carriage, Extensively Marked Including “S. Colt” and “N.J.” and U.S. Ordnance Inspector Stamps, with Limber, and Magazine / Ammunition Chest. The original Serial Number Ledger for the Gatling Gun Company identifies Model 1876 Gatling Gun No. 188 as follows: “Limber measuring from front of tongue to rear of wheel: approximately 13 feet 7 inches. Width wheel to wheel, using outside dimension to hubs: 4 feet 9 3/8 inches. Width of wood and cast iron fitted mount to connect reins to horses, positioned in front of wheels: 4 feet 10 3/4 inches. Wheels cleaned off automatically by their close proximity to the mount. The wood spoke wheels 4 feet 2 inches in diameter. Height of Limber, measured to top of the two iron handles: 4 feet 4 inches.

Designed by Dr. Richard Gatling and patented in 1862, the Gatling Gun was an early rapid-fire weapon and the first machine gun with reliable loading. The Model 1876 Gatling Gun was built at a significant period of U.S. Government campaigns against hostiles in the West, and was a featured display at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition. Held in Philadelphia, the Exhibition was officially opened by President Ulysses S. Grant. Dr. Gatling received the only medal given for a machine gun at the Centennial Exhibition. These coveted bronze medals – 4 inches in diameter – were the largest ever struck at the Philadelphia Mint.

This is the first time ever that this Gatling Gun has come to auction. (Estimate:  $175,000-$250,000).

Lot 2156:  Winchester Transition Fourth Model 1866 Lever Action Rifle Attributed to Indian Scout Luther S. “Yellowstone” Kelly together with Factory Letter and Arnold M. Chernoff Letter. Luther S. “Yellowstone” Kelly (1849 – 1928) was born in New York. As a young man, he served in the Union Army during the Civil War and finished his enlistment in the American West. He trapped and hunted along the Yellowstone River in Montana, mastered the Sioux language there, and began scouting for the military. Kelly eventually became Chief of Scouts for the famed General Miles in 1876, serving at the Indian War battles of Wolf Mountain and Tongue River. He participated in the pursuit of the Nez Perce at the Bear Paw Mountains. He later guided two expeditions in Alaska and served as a captain of volunteers in the Philippines. (Estimate: $75,000-$100,000).

Lot 2315 – Rare Cheyenne War Shirt, with 40 Horsehair Drops and U.S. Cavalry Buttons. A beautiful showpiece, this war shirt features extensive beading and two rows of U.S. Cavalry buttons. It was acquired from a Missouri River steamboat captain who displayed it on his steamboat. (Estimate: $40,000-$60,000).

Lot 2035 – Abercrombie & Fitch Engraved and Gold Banded Colt Single Action Army Revolver, with Extra Cylinder. (Estimate: $20,000-$30,000).

Lot 1108: Scarce and Ornate German Flintlock Jaeger Rifle, by Johan Zimmer, Cronach, Franconia ca. 1686. .60 cal., 31 1/2 inches swamped octagonal barrel, with dovetailed German silver front sight and two-position folding-leaf adjustable rear sight; entire surface of top three barrel facets floral scroll engraved. (Estimate: $15,000-$25,000).

Lot 1097– Rare American Clip-Point Bowie Knife, by H. Huber. Henry Huber was partners with J. English in Philadelphia during the 1830s and knives with only Huber’s name are extremely rare. (Estimate: $15,000-$20,000).

All items in the June auction are illustrated in the catalog, available by mail from Greg Martin Auctions or at the sale. The complete catalog – including full descriptions, estimates and photographs by individual lot – is available online at www.gregmartinauctions.com.

Greg Martin Auctions bidders can participate in the events in various ways: onsite at Greg Martin Auctions’ offices in Irvine, via phone bidding and absentee bids. In addition, real-time, Internet bidding through Proxibid allows potential buyers online to view a photo of each item as it goes up for sale and to place a bid as selling is underway.

Greg Martin Auctions’ next live sale is scheduled for September 2010 in Anaheim, Calif.

For more information visit www.gregmartinauctions.com or contact Ron Goulden at Greg Martin Auctions at 949-748-4848 or via e-mail at rgoulden@gregmartinauctions.com

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More Images:

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Rare Model 1876 Gatling Gun, on Wheeled Carriage.
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Rare Cheyenne War Shirt, with 40 Horsehair Drops and U.S. Cavalry Buttons.
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Lot of Two Historic Confederate Civil War Naval Signal Pennants Captured from the Gunboat C.S.S. Tennessee During the Battle of Mobile Bay. Estimate: $15,000-$25,000.
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Rare Walther PP H. Himmler Presentation Engraved Semi-Automatic Pistol. Engraved on top left slide: Dem Tdpferen vom Reichsfuhrer-SS H.Himmler. ("To the Bravest from RFSS H. Himmler"). Exceedingly rare and one of only a handful known, this rare early wartime PP was evidently a presentation piece from RF-SS Heinrich Himmler.

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