Published: May 25, 2021
ROCK ISLAND, ILL. – A pair of flintlock holster pistols carried by Alexander Hamilton during the Revolutionary War sold for $1.15 million at Rock Island Auction Company’s May 14 sale, making them among the most valuable historic arms ever sold. The arms were accompanied by the Hamilton’s field service epaulets worn as he served as an officer in the Continental Army under George Washington.
Rock Island’s May 14 sale grossed $30 million, the highest total for any firearms auction recorded.
“These pistols are universally recognized as being among the most historically significant weapons known to exist,” the auction house wrote. Rock Island said they were aware of no other Revolutionary War-used firearms owned or used by the founding fathers in private hands.
Provenance tells that the pistols descended in the Hamilton family for nearly 150 years until the 1940s, when they were sold by Hamilton’s great-great grandson, Schuyler Hamilton III, to dealer Robert Abels. In a notarized letter, Hamilton III wrote “these pistols were presented to Hamilton following the historic Battle of Saratoga by General Philip Schuyler,” Hamilton’s father-in-law. They then traveled from Clark V. Cail to Donald Tuttle, who promised them to the Whitney Armory and Eli Whitney Museum, to former US Secretary of the Treasury, William E. Simon (Nixon and Ford administrations) then to his son, William E. Simon Jr, and finally to the present consignor.
The firm described the pistols thus: “A matched pair, the pistols have smoothbore, multi-stage barrels with light scroll engraving, ‘*/EN’ maker’s marks and London proofs on the upper left, and ‘London’ signed on the tops. The early ‘banana’ profile locks are convex and signed ‘Ed/Nicholson’ and have floral scroll engraving and non-bridled pans. The furniture is all brass. The side plates have pierced centers and light floral engraving. The trigger guards have acorn finials and snowflake style designs on the bows. The pommel caps have floral blooms. The wrist escutcheons have the significant initials ‘A H’ inscribed for Alexander Hamilton and border engraving. The stocks have raised shell carving around the upper tangs. In the ramrod channel near the for-end tip the second pistol has ‘I-Davis’ and ‘IIII.’ They are in fine condition and remain fully functional.”
The buyer remains anonymous.
For additional information, www.rockislandauction.com or 309-797-1500.
May 17, 2022
May 17, 2022
May 17, 2022
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