Published: August 2, 2022
Review by Z.G. Burnett, Photos Courtesy Bruneau & Co. Auctioneers
CRANSTON, R.I. – Bruneau & Co. Auctioneers conducted its Historic Arms & Militaria online-only auction on July 21, with all but one lot sold and healthy sales of $322,634. Instead of hosting long, multi-category sales, Bruneau has started featuring focused auctions with specific themes within its respective categories. Joel Bohy, director of Historic Arms & Militaria, also arranges the lot numbers by date so that customers with interest in a particular era have less time to wait before bidding. “It helps to keep people’s attention with smaller auctions,” Bohy added.
This sale consisted of objects from World War I and World War II, with much buyer interest in historic arms. However, the highest achieving lot was a group of presentation items for President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945) from Abdul Aziz al Saud, King of Saudi Arabia (1876-1953). The lot consisted of an Arabian robe, head scarf, agal head band, scarf and a gold dagger set with stones, as well as a note from the White House Chief of Staff transmitting the presentation group to vice admiral Wilson Brown (1882-1957). The king sent these gifts to the president following a meeting aboard the USS Quincy in Egypt, during which they discussed postwar plans for the Middle East in 1945. Roosevelt died before receiving the gifts, and his wife Eleanor Roosevelt was adamant about giving them to Brown. They were passed down through the family before arriving at Bruneau’s to be sold for $16,450.
Next was a World War II USMC Johnson model 1941 rifle and bayonet, which Bohy pointed out was manufactured in Cranston, R.I., where Bruneau is located. A rare rifle, this model did not see much action during the war and this example was in overall good condition despite a few dings and nicks, and the bayonet missing its scabbard. It was .30-06 caliber and marked with a serial number. The rifle and bayonet sold for $8,813 against a $2/4,000 estimate. Another rare rifle in the top lots was from the other side, a German G.41 from World War II, circa 1943. It was in similar condition to the Johnson, marked in all the right places and sold for $6,463. Another G.41 sniper rifle in the top lots bid to $3,819.
Two other rifles made top brass in the sale. From Russia, a Tokarev SVT-38 rifle with “SA” Finnish markings achieved $4,408. The SVT-38 was the first of its line of self-loading, automatic service rifles that packed a punch but had very little longevity and was replaced with the SVT-40 later during World War II. Another in this category was the US Remington model 1903-A4 sniper rifle, circa 1943, which are popular among collectors. This rifle achieved $4,113.
The only handgun and the third highest selling lot was a Colt model 1911 US Navy pistol, manufactured circa 1913. Also the earliest gun among the top lots, the Colt became the standard pistol for the US armed forces in 1912. The M1911 was produced until 1919 and the design was improved in 1926. This example was in overall good condition and fired up to $7,050.
Perhaps the most surprising group lot of the top sales and of the auction overall was a collection of uniform garments and accessories that once belonged to the American illustrator Howell Dodd (1910-2005). Known for his dark, pulpy magazine art from the 1930s to the 1950s, Dodd also served as a war correspondent in World War II. The group lot included a fixed bale M1 helmet, signed twice by the artist-soldier, a Model 41 field jacket, an Ike jacket, a shirt and trousers and a side cap. Each of these was either painted or bore patches to identify Dodd as a war correspondent. Far surpassing its $400/600 estimate, the group lot sold for $5,582.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house. Bruneau’s next Historic Arms & Militaria Auction is in September. For more information, 401-533-9980 or www.bruneauandco.com.
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