Published: April 16, 2002
PORTSMOUTH, N.H. – On Monday, March 11, and Tuesday, March 12, James D. Julia Auctioneers traveled to Portsmouth for their Annual Spring Firearms Auction. A number of historical rdf_Descriptions were offered, including a solid silver beaker made for Baron von Richthofen, aka The Red Baron.
The beaker was probably commissioned by Richthofen after he won the Pour le Merité. The Pour le Merité (commonly known as the Blue Max), was the highest German military order that could be obtained during the First World War. Richthofen, probably the most famous fighter pilot in the history of aviation, shot down 80 pilots before he was finally killed himself just prior to the conclusion of World War I. The beaker sold for $28,750, and also attracted the attention of Richthofen’s grandnephew, who traveled to the sale to see the cup.
Julia’s auction featured historical presentation swords including a high grade Tiffany gold plated presentation sword from Lieutenant Colonel Mark Flanagan of the 24th Michigan (Iron Brigade). Flanagan, a sheriff back home in Michigan, was presented this sword before he went off to the Civil War by his deputies. It is believed that he carried the sword at Gettysburg on the first day when his unit was charged with the responsibility of holding the might of the invading rebel forces until the rest of the Union Army could arrive. While they were successful in withstanding the much larger Confederate force, they did so at tremendous cost. Much of the brigade was lost on the first day of Gettysburg, and in fact Flanagan himself lost a leg to a cannon ball. His sword sold for $40,250.
A number of other fine Union swords were offered, but also included in this sale was a rare Confederate arsenal light saber made at the Confederate States Arsenal in Kenansville, N.C. The sword, which came directly out of the attic of an old Maine farmhouse, without its scabbard and in less than perfect condition, carried a presale estimate of $3/5,000, and it sold for $8,625. A large double edged Bowie knife by C. Congreve attracted tremendous interest also. It carried a presale estimate of $3/5,000, but went out to a final bid nearly five times its high estimate, $24,000.
A large number of early militia rifles and muskets included a fine Johnson model 1817 rifle estimated at $8/10,000, but sold for $12,650. A rare US model 1842 Palmetto Confederate percussion pistol was estimated at $4,5/6,500 and finally sold for just over $6,000.
A gold Confederate-used pocket watch inscribed on the inner lid “John Watt Rabb/son of John Glazier Rabb, was killed in the battle of Gaines Mills Virginia June 30, 1862, wearing this watch and carrying the colors of the 6th South Carolina Regiment.” The watch, estimated at $2,250/2,750, sold for a final price of $4,300.
A small grouping of sporting art from a private collection in Maryland included a painting of quail, attributed to A.F. Tait. This spectacular painting, with extraordinary detail, was estimated at $5/8,000 and sold for a final bid of $14,400. A small oil on board by noted sporting artist Robert Kuhn was estimated at $2,5/3,500 and finally ended up at $6,600.
A grouping of sporting posters advertising guns and gunpowder included a very rare UMC Printers Proof. This advertisement depicted a Spanish-American War period scene with ammo being loaded on a ship. The poster, estimated at $1,5/3,000, reached a final sale price of $2,375. A rare 1909 Remington poster depicting a trapper surrounded by wolves went out at $3,200.
A small group of rare fur trade Indian muskets attracted a great deal of attention. Included was a Barnett Conversion Northwest Trade Chiefs musket that was estimated at $2,5/4,000 and sold for $5,200. A Wilson Conversation Northwest Trade Chiefs musket, estimated at $2,5/4,000, sold for $5,500.
A fabulous gold inlaid artillery officers presentation sword from the Franco Prussian War, estimated at $3/6,000, sold for $4,250 while a group of striking imperial officers helmets were also offered. A complete and superb English gentleman at arms helmet replete with its white feathered plumb and fabulous gold lavish ornamentation sold at $4,600.
For more than two years now, Julia’s has consistently offered a number of historic and important rdf_Descriptions associated with the Battle of Little Big Horn. This auction, the closest they came was a handmade Northern Plains Sioux Indian deerskin dress, which had been presented to Colonel E. Rice by White Bull, War Chief of the Northern Sioux. White Bull was purported to have been the grand-nephew of Sitting Bull and claimed to have dealt the death blow to General Custer at the famed battle of Little Big Horn. White Bull had apparently presented to the dress to Col Rice in 1884.
Rice, a significant military figure, served his country from the Civil War all the way up to and including the Spanish American War. In addition to winning the Congressional Medal of Honor during the Civil War, Rice was also responsible for inventing various military rdf_Descriptions, one of which was the famous Trowel Bayonet. The dress, which carried a presale estimate of $9/11,000, sold for $9,700.
A small, but very fine, select grouping of presentation Colt revolvers were offered. A model 1862 in outstanding condition was estimated at $8/12,000 and sold for $16,000. A rare engraved Cased Colt Root was estimated at $4/6,000 and finally sold for $9,200. An 1861 Navy Percussion in great condition was estimated at $5/8,000 and sold for $9,400. A 3rd Model Colt Dragoon fitted with a very rare shoulder stock was estimated at $8/12,000 sold for $14,400.
A large old gun collection, found hidden in a cellar of a Massachusetts home where it had been stored in a hidden room for many, many years, yielded up a number of interesting finds. One discovery in a large box of old bullet molds and gun parts was a small pistol mold for a rare Baby Patterson Colt. The mold, estimated at $1,5/2,500, saw tremendous spirited bidding and went out at $6,600. A Colt single-action artillery in superb condition, together with its Spanish/American-era history, was estimated at $8/10,000 and sold for $11,270. A historic Centennial period 38-star American flag was estimated at $1,500/2,500 but finally sold for $3,700. Also discovered in that Massachusetts cellar was a choice Remington model deluxe rolling-block target rifle. This one, however, in a rare caliber 32-20, was primarily responsible for it shooting past its presale estimate of $1,500/2,500 and finally selling for over triple the high estimate at $8,000.
Some spectacular Winchesters were also part of this auction. An engraved Model 66, estimated at $12,5/17,500, brought $16,700. A deluxe Model 76, estimated at $12,5/22,500, brought $17,800, and an absolutely spectacular 1876 caliber 45-75 with case-hardened breech sold for well within its estimate of $17,500/27,500, going out at a strong $19,500. Many of these outstanding Winchesters offered had once been in the collection of the late Dr Robert L. Moore. Some of these Winchesters had actually been the very guns illustrated in the famous Winchester book compiled many years ago by Madis.
A Model 76 saddle ring carbine in outstanding condition went out at $12,650. A Model 86 special order Winchester in caliber 40-82, again in spectacular condition with fiery case-hardened receiver, was estimated at $15/20,000 and sold right smack in the middle of the estimate at $17,800.
A group of high-grade shotguns were offered and one of the few disappointments in the entire auction was an extremely rare and special order Winchester Model 21 Grand American in a three-barrel configuration, including 20 gauge, 28 gauge and 410. The Winchester firm made only two Grand Americans in this specific configuration before it sold out to U.S. Repeating Arms, and this example was one of those two creations. This one was apparently never shot since it was made complete with a special photo album prepared by Winchester depicting the actual making of the gun, including photographs of the famed engraver John Kusmit who did the engraving on this example. The gun very surprisingly failed to meet its reserve and did not sell.
Many of the other fine shotguns did sell. A pair of cased Boss double barrel 12 gauge shotguns went out at $33,900. A Parker CHE grade two-barrel set with wonderful engraving was estimated at $7,500/10,000 and sold well over the high estimate at $11,500. The Browning Diana grade 410 went out at $6,900. A fine cased matched pair of Arrieta Sidelock 12 gauge double barrels were estimated at $10/15,000 and finally realized $10,350.
All prices cited include the buyer’s premium.
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