Published: December 4, 2019
CINCINNATI, OHIO – One of the best and most complete Gatling guns to be offered in recent years highlighted Cowan’s December 4 arms and armor auction selling for $222,000. The gigantic Colt Model 1883 was a remarkably complete example of one of the most iconic guns of its time complete with original field carriage, limber and a rare original Accles drum.
“I’ve been doing this a long time, and when I first laid eyes on this incredible piece of military history even I was blown away,” said Jack Lewis, Cowan’s director of arms and armor. “The price achieved shows the amount of respect in the market for truly great pieces of military antiquities and that really brings a smile to my face.”
The lot opened at $65,000 before five phone bidders quickly took the lot to six figures. At the low estimate of $125,000, only two bidders remained, and the pace became much more deliberate. For the next two minutes, the two determined bidders battled back and forth before a private collector ultimately won the lot for $185,000. The inclusion of a 20 percent buyer’s premium made the full price realized come to $222,000.
Gatling guns, among the best-known early rapid-fire spring-loaded, hand cranked weapons, are forerunners of the modern machine gun and rotary cannon. Invented by Richard Gatling (1818-1903), the guns saw occasional use by the Union forces during the American Civil War in the 1860s, which was the first time they were employed in combat.
The weapons’ operation centered on a cyclic multi-barrel design, which allowed for both cooling and firing-loading synchronization. Each barrel fired a single shot when it reached a certain point in the cycle, after which it ejected the spent cartridge, loaded a new round, and, in the process, allowed the barrel to cool. This configuration allowed higher rates of fire to be achieved without the barrels overheating.
The Gatling gun was the top lot of Cowan’s 285-lot auction, but it was by no means the only highlight for the $1.1 million day. A rare Confederate first model Cofer revolver sold for $90,000. while an Ulrich engraved gold-plated Marlin rifle sold for $51,000. Lots across all categories consistently met or exceeded their estimates sending the sale well past its estimate of $800,000.
A full recap of the sale will be available shortly. For information, www.cowans.com.
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