Published: November 7, 2000
Battle of Little Bighorn Items Top Julia Firearms Auction
FAIRFIELD, ME. – In an October firearms auction conducted by James D. Julia – one that grossed nearly $1.7 million – a Custer battlefield specimen forensically proven to have been fired at the Battle of Little Bighorn was the top lot. The rare 1873 Springfield Trapdoor Carbine came on the block with a dark, “as found” patina and documentation. The Springfield was also believed to have been used at the Battle of the Rosebud eight days prior to Little Bighorn, but was one of only fifteen carbines forensically identified with the Custer Battlefield and one of five in private hands. It was offered with a colorful print of a painting by Custer historian Ralph Heinz and a book entitled Archaeological Insights into the Custer Battlefield and fetched $96,000.
Also pertaining to the Little Bighorn battlefield and offered at the sale was a Sioux engraved pictograph excavated from Sitting Bull’s camp on the Little Bighorn River. This pictograph, executed on a flattened brass plate by Sioux warrior, depicted mounted braves routing Cook’s U.S. Calvary at the Battle of the Rosebud. It is the only known Indian pictograph on metal, according to the firm, and brought $37,375.
The gallery’s sale last spring of a Model 1866 Winchester Saddle Ring Carbine hit a world record for an historical American firearm at auction when it went out at $684,500. This Winchester, together with other Little Bighorn relics sold by the firm in its last four auctions, now total over $1,000,000. As a result, consignors have come forth with an array of guns, including some associated with the historic battle that marked the turning point in the struggle for the American West.
Other lots offered in this most recent sale included a Colt Army revolver used by Pvt. Joseph N. Hawkins of Company D of Custer’s 7th Michigan Calvary, which brought $20,700. The Colt was documented and was believed to have been used by Private Hawkins at the Battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863. There Custer shouted his famous phrase, “Come on You Wolverines!” Private Hawkins died within weeks of that battle after contracting typhoid fever but the Colt revolver, serial #77460, remained in service and was sent West with the 7th Michigan Calvary.
Also recovered from the Battle of Little Bighorn area was an 1873 Trap Door Springfield Carbine that was pulled from the Little Bighorn River in 1954. The original piece came on the block with no estimate, relic condition, and sold for $7,475, while a well-documented lot of cartridge casings from the Reno battle site brought $4,600. A Remington revolver excavated from Rosebud Creek went out at $20,700. For those with an interest in the War of 1812 and the Mexican Wars, an ivory presentation cane given to General Winfield Scott reached $10,925.
A rare Seventeenth Century rifle made by the Maucher family of Schwabisch Gmund, Germany, is believed to be the fourth in a series of firearms made by the father and son of this family of carvers. The Maucher Wheelock rifle, once in the collection of the late William Simon, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, came to the block in original condition and sold for $51,750.
The late Oliver Messenger’s collection included some early firearms like the Dublin Castle Second Model Brown Bess Flintlock Musket with regimental markings, dating to the American Revolution, which sold for $16,387. This collection also included a Harper’s Ferry 1806 Flintlock pistol, which brought $4,600, and a rare, Seventeenth Century American Flintlock pistol with a six-inch round barrel, which realized $4,025.
In addition to firearms and weapons such as a 13-inch Confederate Bowie knife and tin scabbard ($3,450), and a 14-inch Confederate “D” Guard-type fighting knife ($2,875), Messenger also collected objects that conveyed the human atmosphere of the Civil War period. A painted American military infantry regimental eagle drum, with the label “Manufactured by A. Rogers Flushing, L.I.” and a hand-written date of 1863, sold for $11,500.
Three Civil War-era percussion revolvers sold for $862, and two Civil War-era swords in need of a a good cleaning were a nice buy at $690. Some of the best Civil War lots drew on a portion of the collection of the late Hank Truslow: A Rogers & Spence Civil War percussion revolver with full inspection marks and provenance sold for $5,175; an unfired Allen & Wheelock Army revolver (caliber .44) including a provenance card from the Sam Smith Collection brought $6,900; and a Remington New model Navy revolver garnered $7,475.
The Truslow Collection included a cased engraved presentation Colt revolver with the backstrap engraved, “Saml. G. Colt Esqr. / Compliments of / Col Colt,” which sold for $19,550, and a cased London Colt Navy revolver with canteen shoulder stock, which featured all matching serial numbers (#42962) and reached $10,350. An engraved Colt with a four-inch octagonal barrel came with accessories and exceeded the estimated $¾,000 at $8,050. A cased Model 7 Colt Root revolver brought $4,025, while a cased engraved London Brevette exhibition revolver dating to the Crystal Palace Exhibition in 1851 sold for $2,875.
An extremely rare Remington Second Model Beals revolver in the original cardboard box brought $9,775, while a Blunt & Syms Percussion Pepper Box in a unique original box went out at $6,900. A Moore Titfire revolver doubled the estimate at $4,600, and a Hammond Bulldog pistol shot through the $1,5/2,500 estimate to reach $3,450. Both included the original box.
The sale also offered two Henry rifles. A Model 1860 King’s Improvement Model (Ser. 3555) featured a 24 inch octagonal barrel, from the Messenger Collection, sold for $15,525. A few minutes later, another Henry from the Messenger Collection (Ser. 7671) brought $11,500. Early rifles included an unused Hall Model 1819 breech-loading rifle ($4,772), a Club Butt Flintlock fowling piece by J. Wright ($4,600), and a Harper’s Ferry 1795 musket from the Messenger Collection ($4,600).
The late Roland “Ronnie” Wiggins of Philadelphia, Penn., collected with an accent on Civil War and Navy firearms. A Sharp’s New Model 1859 Army/Navy musket sold for $3,450. A selection of Colt Slide Action Magazine rifles included an 1887 piece featuring a 28 inch barrel, which brought $8,050, and Winchester collectors vied for a nice Model 1873 Lever Action musket, which reached $5,750, and a custom grade Model 21 double-barrel shotgun, which rang up $6,325.
A 1911 Colt commercial pistol belonging to the notorious bootlegger and gangster, Dutch Schultz, in good condition with sharp checkering and over 90 percent of the original blue, soared to a final price of $15,525. A four-inch Colt Single Action pistol in unfired condition that had been issued to actor James Cagney in 1971 brought $1,380.
A rare Morse centerfire alteration of M1816 Springfield musket sold for $20,700. This was the first breech loading U.S. cartridge log arm ever produced and only 54 were known to have been completed at the Springfield Armor. A number of large framed Smith & Wesson’s were also sold, many from the Posner Collection of California. A First Model America S.A. went out at $5,462, and a Presentation LeFever double rifle (Cal. 50-110), engraved “Built expressly for Alfred Ames Howlett” (president of LeFever Firearms), sold for $8,050.
Swords included a Louis and Bissonait Confederate presentation piece taking top honors at $23,000. A large iron-mounted Potter Saber dating to the American Revolution reached $11,500. A rare College Hill or B. Douglas Confederate sword garnered $5,750; and a high-grade Ames Militia Officer’s sword brought $3,450.
Prices quoted include a buyers premium.
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