Published: April 19, 2022
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Photos Courtesy Bruneau & Co
CRANSTON, R.I. – Bruneau & Co’s April 9 Spring Historic Arms & Militaria Auction, which was split nearly 50/50 between objects from the Erik Goldstein collection and those from various owners, was more than 98 percent sold by lot and achieved a total just shy of $500,000. The sale was curated by Joel Bohy, who was appointed as the director of historic arms and militaria when the firm created the department in the summer of 2020.
“I’m feeling great,” Bohy said after the sale. “It was a good, fun auction. There was a lot of activity and things were, for the most part, going really strong. The quality of the material in the Goldstein collection was really good – he really curated his collection and bought nice things. People knew him and bid accordingly.”
According to Bohy, Goldstein “liked all [militaria]” but he said the collection was particularly strong in English and Scottish pieces from the 1740s through the period of the American Revolution. Interest in the collection came from around the world, including some institutions; in the end, American bidders prevailed. He noted items pertaining to the French and Indian and Revolutionary Wars attracted the most attention.
Leading the sale was a Scottish backsword issued to Fraser’s Second Highland battalion upon their raising at the onset of the French and Indian War; only a few examples are known to exist. According to the catalog, the battalion engaged charged the French at Quebec in September 1759. An “advanced collector” paid $39,200 for the sword, which bore the regiment’s mark, a factor Bohy said drove interest in the piece.
Another Scottish sword – a “Glasgow” basket hilt broadsword that predated the last Jacobite rebellion at Culloden in 1745 and had been published in both Jim Mullins’ Of Sorts For Provincials: American Weapons of the French and Indian Wars and Ryan Gale’s A Soldier-Like Way, The Material Culture of the British Infantry, 1751-68 more than quadrupled its high estimate to reach $14,700.
American regimental markings drove interest on a British pattern 1742 musket to $35,525, the second highest price in the sale; it was also purchased by an advanced collector. The gun had been published in no fewer than two books and a magazine article so it was a well-known piece.
The lot with one of the best backstories in the sale achieved an impressive $23,275. A World War II veteran named Samuel Boyajian, who was stationed at the embassy with General MacArthur and was his personal baker, was invited to help himself from surrendered swords and guns once the war was over. According to Bohy, the simple markings on the tang was apparently indicative of a specific maker and school. The blade had been protected by being covered in grease and was considered to be in an exceptional state of preservation. It was brought to Bruneau on a free appraisal day by sellers who had no idea that it could be valuable.
One of the rarest lots in the sale – a British 55th Regiment grenadier hanger – may be only one known from that regiment. It dated to the mid-Eighteenth Century and had a great history, including possibly being at Abercrombie’s disastrous attack on Fort Ticonderoga in 1758. It doubled high expectations to bring $18,375.
Bohy admitted that his favorite piece in the sale was probably a fowling piece made circa 1774 by Dr Moses Mosman, of Sudbury, Mass. Bohy had known of the piece when he was much younger and was researched the piece when it came to Bruneau. In addition to being Sudbury’s town doctor, Mosman also repaired guns, a fact noted in surviving account books. An advanced collector prevailed against competition to win it for $15,925.
In addition to these top prices, there were many things in the sale that brought more modest prices and yet still met or exceeded expectations. “We try to have things for both entry level and advanced collectors,” Bohy said.
The next militaria sale will be an online event schedule for July; dates to be announced.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house.
For information, 401-533-9980 or www.bruneauandco.com.
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