Published: April 18, 2016
CINCINNATI, OHIO — A major and important private collection of Confederate manufactured firearms will be offered by Cowan’s Auctions as part of a two-day sale April 26–27. The items have already drawn widespread interest due to their rarity, condition and historical significance.
Assembled over 65 years, the Cliff and Lynne Young collection of Confederate arms includes some of the scarcest and best-known examples in existence from small Confederate arms makers such as Cofer, Dance, Leech and Rigdon, LeMat and others. Forty-two lots from the collection will be offered in the April sale of historic firearms and militaria, with others to follow in November and next spring.
This is no ordinary group of Civil War guns. “There are collectors who just buy Confederate arms. Cliff went deeper than that. Quality and historical significance were paramount,” said Jack Lewis, Cowan’s director of Historic Firearms and Early Militaria. “These are truly the best known examples of some of the rarest Confederate weapons ever produced.”
Young, who died last year, vigorously documented the weapons he collected. “Some of them have a file of provenance 2 feet thick,” Lewis noted. Almost all the guns have been pictured and described in literature focusing on arms made for the Confederate States.
The emphasis on research fit perfectly with Young’s overall interest in Confederate firearms. He was past president and a longtime member of the American Society of Arms Collectors, a well-known published author and lecturer, and a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Massachusetts Antique Arms Collectors.
For the most part, Young collected quietly, buying unquestionably authentic material at a time when the best items were sold privately. “Most of Cliff’s weapons were traded privately among high-end Confederate collectors and were never offered on the open market,” said Lewis. “Many collectors have seen these guns photographed in books for years but have never had an opportunity to buy them.”
Highlights for the April sale include a Cofer third type revolver in its original holster, captured from a Confederate signal officer on July 21, 1864 ($250/350,000); a cased second model LeMat percussion revolver ($70/110,000); an engraved Paris second model LeMat percussion revolver, one of about a dozen Baby LeMats known to exist ($75/100,000); and a Spiller & Burr rounded frame percussion revolver ($50/100,000). Of the three examples known to exist, Young owned two. Also on offer are a Leech & Rigdon percussion revolver captured in August 1864 from the CSS Tennessee at Mobile Bay ($50/100,000) and a Tarpley breech-loading carbine identified to a Confederate trooper in Waul’s Texas Legion ($70/100,000).
Beyond the Young collection, the auction includes the Raymond Geddes collection of Civil War arms and the second installment of the Mel Flanagan collection of European and American arms.
Top lots include a Zouave uniform identified to Charles Reisser of the 9th New York Hawkins Zouaves ($65/95,000); Sharps New Model 1869 sporting rifle ($50/75,000); a Samuel Bell Bowie knife, circa 1830, possibly the largest Bell knife known, having a 14-inch blade ($40/60,000); Second Model Hoggson engraved Henry rifle ($35/60,000); First Model Henry rifle ($30/50,000); Marlin factory-engraved Third Model 1892 rifle belonging to Wild West Show sharpshooter T.H. Ford ($25/35,000); Lieutenant Colonel Porter S. Cox Model 1840/60 presentation sword ($20/30,000); dueling pistol once owned by John Wilkes Booth ($15/30,000); and a mid-Seventeenth Century wheellock blunderbuss ($15/25,000).
Cowan’s Auctions is at 6270 Este Avenue. Previews are noon to 5 pm, Monday, April 25; and 8 to 10 am on auction days. The auction starts at 10 am each day, with the Cliff and Lynne Young collection of Confederate arms selling Tuesday.
For additional information, www.cowans.com or 513-871-1670.
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