Morphy Auctions Premier Firearm Sale
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- Last updated: 27/04/2018
This highly anticipated sale, the first to include Morphy’s newly acquired James D. Julia, Inc. division, offered over 1300 lots, including selections from favourite historical, legacy, and modern brands. The finest auction destination for fresh to the market collections, Morphy Auctions welcomed enthusiasts from around the world to this important sale, held on March 1st and 2nd, 2018. The auction began promptly at 9am on both days and all merchandise from this sale was on display in Morphy’s Pennsylvania auction gallery and available for preview, as well as listed on the company website at www.morphyauctions.com.
Hand-held firearms, including a huge range of pistols and revolvers, were a key category in this sale; there was something for everyone looking to add a top tier Smith and Wesson, DWM, Krieghoff, Mauser, Walther, Browning, or Colt to their collection, many with their original cases or boxes.
Got the lot
The top lot was #147, an amazing Colt Whitneyville Hartford Transitional Walker Model Dragoon Revolver, estimated at $20,000-40,000. This gun is considered by those in the know to be the Holy Grail of Colt percussion revolvers. Only 240 examples of these were manufactured, with serial numbers spanning 1100 through 1340. All were made in late 1847 at the Hartford factory from excess parts from the Walker model. This one has matching numbers on its frame, barrel, trigger guard, backstrap, and cylinder. It has been completely field stripped, examined, and vetted by numerous experts and deemed to be one of the better existing examples of this extremely rare U.S. Martial revolver. Also available through this sale were broad selections of outstanding rifles, shotguns, muskets, and carbines. The sheer number of choices from national, as well as European makers, such as Colt, Winchester, Marlin, Parker Brothers, Ithaca, Krieghoff, L.C. Smith, Browning, A.H. Fox, J.P. Sauer, Smith & Wesson, Mauser, Springfield, and Sharps were certain to catch the eye of collectors worldwide. Several fine Winchesters were the top picks in these key categories; many from a 19th Century collection of Winchesters that took the consigner nearly 50 years to complete. These top guns included:
Lot #254, a high condition cased Winchester Henry Lever Action Rifle from 1862, estimated at $60,000-80,000. This example is 100% clean, untouched, and all original in every way and is unquestionably one of the finest standard early commercial Henry rifles in existence. It is housed in a very rare walnut factory display case; an exact example can be found on page 92 in the book “Volcanic Firearms” by Lewis and Rutter. The rifle and case are accompanied by a full sealed box of Remington UMC .44 Henry flat (50) rimfire green label cartridges. For Winchester collectors, it doesn’t get much better than this!
The only complete collection of 19th Century Winchester Lever Auction Muskets ever offered. Ranging from 1866-1895 including; one of five made 1894 models, rare 1886, 1895 30-40 musket, un-fired 1873 et all.
Lot #239, a high condition, untouched Henry Marked Winchester Model 1866 Lever Action Rifle from 1869, estimated at $15,000-20,000. Its barrel and tube retain approximately 90% of the original factory blue finish that mixes with a soft patina coming through the finish, resulting in a completely clean and homogeneous appearance. The octagon barrel has the Henry’s Patent stamp. According to our experts: “This is the nicest Henry marked Model 1866 standard rifle that we have cataloged; this rifle would surely place in the top 5% of all existing specimens.”
Lot #229, a Winchester Ulrich Engraved Deluxe Model 1894 Lever Action Rifle, estimated at $25,000-45,000. This very rare, special order ‘94 has a beautifully engraved receiver in style “4” by John Ulrich and is signed on the lower tang behind the trigger. Its engraving includes a panel of a hunter shooting from behind a tree with two elk in the foreground, all in a forest scene on the left side; and a grizzly bear in a mountain scene on a promontory on the right side, all surrounded by foliate arabesque patterns and wavelet borders. This handsome example, with provenance to the Lloyd Goff, Glenn Hockett, and Wes Adams Estate Collections, comes with several museum letters from 1971, 1982, and 2008 which provide further information regarding the history and significance behind this extraordinary firearm.
Lot #243, a deluxe Winchester Model 1876 Open Top Lever Action Sporting Rifle from 1878, estimated at $15,000- 20,000. This early model features rare straight grip deluxe wood checkered walnut stocks, a very rare blued half octagon barrel, full magazine, standard sporting front sight, 1876 ladder rear sight, and a case colored frame, hammer, lever, forend cap, and buttplate. Our experts describe it simply as “stunning.”
Lot #539, an 1889 Paris Exhibition Winchester Deluxe Model 1873 Saddle Ring Carbine from 1889, estimated at $30,000-50,000. This example is listed in the “Winchester 1873” book by serial number by Gordon. Its receiver, dust cover, and heel of its buttplate are decorated with engraved scrollwork and punch dot background. The left sideplate features a white tail buck in circle, almost identical to the pattern seen on page 230 by the shop of John Ulrich in the book “Winchester Engraving” by R.L. Wilson.
New and antique swords, sabers, and other edged weapons also made a prominent showing in this sale. Both functional and ceremonial examples were on offer, including eye-catching rarities from Japan, Burma, and Turkey. Two standouts include:
Lot #310, an historically important French sabre attributed to General Brooks and presented by Lafayette, estimated at $20,000-40,000. This piece, which is in excellent condition, was probably made at Klingenthal and is possibly a LePage. It is elaborately detailed with high-relief foliate patterns, languettes, and acanthus leaves engravings. The scabbard is decorated with four applied panels, in the French style, with relief scenes of Roman soldiers, arms motifs, and diplomats. The museum-quality sword is complete with a letter detailing its provenance and history from William Dykes Antiques.
Lot #311, a fine jade hilted silver mounted Shamshir, estimated at $15,000-25,000. This example features a curved Damascus steel blade and a silver guard with languettes. The guard is embellished with chiseled florals and scrolls with jade and turquoise ornamentation on both sides. Its wellexecuted 18th Century jade hilt is covered with relief carved flowers and foliage.
This sale came full-circle with fine examples of Kentucky rifles and firearms, Bowie and other hand knives, modern editions, headwear and uniforms, books, ephemera, and collections.
Lot #444, an exquisite cased, engraved, and gold inlaid Franz Sodia .458 Winchester SxS double rifle from 1977 was estimated at $35,000-45,000. This artistic masterpiece – capable of downing the world’s most dangerous game if one chose to do so – comes protected in a Winchester hard case.
To replicate this extraordinary rifle today would cost over $75,000. And lot #540, a Winchester 1885 Low Wall and archive attributed to Pawnee Bill’s Wife, May Lille, was estimated at $25,000-30,000. This exciting time capsule, from a female “Wild West"legend, includes her 1888 firearm, brass tacked leather jewellery box, an 1896 Buffalo Bill Wild West Show flag with “MAY LILLIE"stenciled on front, a Pawnee Bill hand signed Wild West pocket card, a brass keyplate stamped “MAY LILLIE BBWWS” and “MAY L.“and a pair of beautiful beadwork woman’s leather Western gloves. This once-in-a-lifetime lot is certain to be of enormous interest to Western-centric collectors, museums, and historical societies.
According to Dan Morphy, President of Morphy Auctions: “This auction represents the first firearms sale we’ll present after our purchase of James D. Julia late last year. We are thrilled to welcome Julia’s customers to Morphy’s, and promise to match the outstanding merchandise, service, and relationships they enjoyed at Julia’s through our expanded firearms division. www.morphyauctions.com