Published: January 30, 2007
Touted as the best gun show in the Atlantic region, the East Coast Fine Arms Show, January 5–7, was once again well received by serious collectors and shooting enthusiasts from throughout the Northeast. Now only in its second year, this show, managed by Newman and Carol Chittenden and Martin Fasack, has gained a solid reputation, one that revolves around the principles that management strives to present — quality merchandise with an emphasis on antique firearms and associated items, collectibles and high quality contemporary sporting shotguns and rifles.
This is a serious gun show for serious collectors of antique and vintage items. New “in the box handguns” are not allowed. There are no paramilitary items, no camo, no stacks of Army helmets, no bullet-proof vests or silencers, and there are no rows of people selling ammo and gimmick items.
“There really isn’t another high quality gun show on the East Coast,” stated dealer Dave Kleiner, as he scanned the quality offerings of early American and European firearms and edged weapons displays that filled the main display area of the show.
While conflicting dates with a major West Coast gun show had reduced the size and the scope of the fledgling East Coast Fine Arms Show, there was still plenty of depth in the offering and the enthusiastic crowd barely noticed the difference for this event.
The core of the show is made up of firearms dealers offering a desirable assortment of Parker, Fox and Purdy and other English Best shotguns; a couple of standout militaria dealers were on hand, however, with a great assortment of Revolutionary War period items. Many of the featured items carried the impressive provenance of the late Bill Guthman collection, with powder horns, early American edged weapons and accessories such as Revolutionary period shoe buckles being offered on different tables.
Kleiner, a longtime friend and business associate of Guthman’s, was one of the dealers to be offering quite a few of the items. The dealer offered a stellar selection of powder horns, most of which had been acquired at the Guthman auction conducted at Northeast Auctions this past October.
Among the engraved horns offered was a powder horn inscribed “JOHN HERMANN : GEBOhREN/ IM JAHR ANNO 1727” (Born in the year 1727). The extremely rare horn was further engraved with a town, possibly Albany, N.Y., ships on a river, a mermaid holding a trumpet and bird, and a rooster weathervane. The wooden plug in the end of the horn was carved in the form of a human head with incised eyes, nose and mouth. Kleiner offered the example at $17,500, while Nathaniel Bartlett’s powder horn, also profusely engraved with a lion with crown and dueling soldiers among other scenes, was stickered $14,500.
Thayer Americana was another of the stands to offer a prime selection of early American militaria and among the assortment offered by proprietor Charles Thayer was a rare New England leather hunting bag that had been converted to a cartridge box. Thayer, a professor who instructed at the University of Pennsylvania for more than 30 years, wrote of the bag: “During the Colonial Era through the Civil War, artisans decorated powder horns, canteens and cartridge boxes. The cartridge box is the rarest of these art forms as the broad leather flap was hard to mark either by impression or painting.”
The example offered by Thayer was decorated with two rows of Hessian-style soldiers with a total of 14 images appearing on the flap. The rare bag, circa 1775–1820, was marked “price on request.”
An 1840s paint decorated drum was also available from Thayer’s booth, made by the Philadelphia firm of Hortmann; it featured a majestically painted spread winged eagle clutching an American shield and with a banner in its beak. Painted on a field of blue with stars around its head, the piece was priced at $5,500.
The highlight of the Thayer display was a British Pattern 1776 rifle that had been used at Yorktown, where the British surrendered in 1781, ending the Revolution and giving the United States status as an independent nation. Said to be “one of only four complete survivors,” the gun is believed to have been used by Loyalists in the Queen’s Rangers unit, one of which was commanded by Benedict Arnold.
There were plenty of Colts on the floor and collectors certainly had their fair share of rarities to pick from. There was a single-action Army revolver in .45 caliber with nickel plated finish and ivory grips that was accompanied by documentation that it had been ordered by and shipped to Bat Masterson in 1882. The rare piece was offered by Richard and Ronald Hartman of Elmira Arms Company, Elmira, N.Y. While not a Colt, the Hartmans also offered another firearm with a great deal of history, a Winchester Model 21 shotgun that had been presented to Joe DiMaggio, engraved and dated “June 30, 1941,” just one day after the “Yankee Clipper” broke George Sissler’s record of 41 straight games with a base hit.
Another of the Colt items on the floor that was attracting serious attention was a boxed set of “special order third generation Colt single actions” that reflected the four classes of engraving executed by Colt master engraver Robert Burt and the three different styles of special order grips: rosewood, ebony and walnut. The set, offered by Barbara and Glen Doty, Montgomery, N.Y., was priced at $25,000.
A good selection of Colts was also offered by Richard Kravarik, New City, N.Y., including a very rare 1860 Army revolver with a fluted cylinder. Another 1860 Army revolver offered was an early four-screw that had been cut for a stock. Manufactured in 1862, the gun had been engraved by Gustave Young and was priced at $13,900.
Collectibles at the show included a very rare “Western” banner that depicted a hunter taking aim at a rearing grizzly bear with only a crag of rocks and his “World Champion Ammunition” standing between them. Offered by Ken Waite, Trumbull, Conn., the banner was attracting quite a bit of attention, as was a selection of early decoys, shotgun shell boxes and other firearms manufacturers-related collectibles. Sharing the booth with Waite was North Atlantic Sportsman dealer Joe Cimino, who offered a rare Winder musket target rifle, circa 1880, and also a highly desirable 1950s Rizzini case-colored side-by-side shotgun that had been marketed by Abercrombie & Fitch.
Rodney Hilton Brown was another to offer a highly desirable collectible. The Manhattan dealer featured a rare USS Saratoga Neptunis Rex certificate that had been signed and dated May 20, 1936, by Captain W.F. “Bull” Halsey and the Executive Officer Frederick Sherman. According to the dealer, the certificates were presented to sailors on their first crossing of the Equator.
Next year’s schedule for the East Coast Fine Arms Show has been confirmed to be a stand-alone date and the show is expected to be bigger and better than ever. For information, contact show management at 914-248-4646.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm