Military collections spur active auction duty in Weiss sale

OCEANSIDE, N.Y. – A signed carte de visite of former President James A. Garfield – taken when he was a Union Brigadier General in the Civil War, prior to his assassination by gunshot at the hand of Charles J. Guiteau on July 2, 1881 – sold for $4,068 at an estate sale that was top-heavy with weapons and militaria, held Nov. 14-15 by Philip Weiss Auctions. Garfield himself signed the CDV.

Cartes de visites are a highly collectible form of early photography. They’re even more desirable when taken of known historical figures and signed. They were a type of small photo – patented in Paris, France, in 1854 by photographer Andre Adolphe Eugene Disderi – and usually made of an albumen print (a thin paper photograph, mounted on a thicker paper card measuring 2 1/8 inches by 3 ½ inches).

The Garfield CDV was one of about 1,400 lots that changed hands in a sale that grossed more than $500,000. “The phones rang almost non-stop, especially on Sunday, and we recorded close to 3,000 absentee bids,” said Philip Weiss. “We also had well over 500 registered online bidders, through”

Mr. Weiss attributed the success of the auction to the quality of items in the military collections. “This was all fresh-to-the-market merchandise,” he remarked, “and the true, dedicated collectors will come out in full force when they know they’re bidding on original items, not recycled inventory. We had an all right day on Saturday, but Sunday was when these great military collections were offered.”

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

Two lots tied for top earner, each bringing $6,780. The first was a circa 1850 Smith & Wesson 320 revolving carbine and stock pistol with rifle butt feature (#48) excellent condition. The other lot was a U.S. legal tender 1923 $10 note in superb/gem condition. Also, a very fine 1870 $5 gold certificate (San Francisco) changed hands for $5,650.

A Sharps Model 1863 rifle, approximately 47 inches in length and made circa 1860-1870, was the highlight of the rifle category, fetching $4,850. Also, a Colt 6-inch police pistol sailed past its high estimate and realized $1,808; and a China war medal, issued in 1842 during the First Opium War (1839-1842) to Thomas Hyne, who served aboard the British ship H.M.S. Conway, commanded $1,243.

A group of approximately 100 lots of ocean liner postcards from the Ken Schultz collection brought a combined $31,000; a museum-quality scale model of a Wells Fargo stagecoach, 33 inches long by 16 inches tall and made in the 1930s or ‘40s, breezed to $2,486; a Japanese Order of the Rising Sun (2nd class) medal rose to $2,260; and a Series 1865 $2 National Bank Note (U.S.) went for $6,440.

An excellent-condition 1/8 plate hand-colored ambrotype of a fireman (circa 1870s), seated with a fire helmet with an insignia reading ‘Howard 34,’ went to a determined bidder for $1,800. Also, a Waterloo medal issued in 1815 to Sgt. T. Wright of the 13th Regiment, Light Dragoons, reached $2,600.

Philip Weiss Auctions is always accepting quality consignments for future sales. To consign an item, a collection, or an entire estate, you may call them directly at 516-594-0731, or you can e-mail them at

To learn more about the company and its calendar of upcoming sales visit

Photos courtesy Philip Weiss Auctions.


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