Revolutionary War relics and collector firearms tally $8.4M at Morphy’s

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Fine and highly important silver-mounted and inlaid presentation pipe tomahawk signed ‘R. (Richard) Butler’ and inscribed to ‘Lt John Maclellan (sic.).’ Extensively exhibited, including at The Smithsonian and The Tower of London. Depicted on cover of ‘Indian Tomahawks & Frontiersman Belt Axes,’ and in several other respected reference books. Sold for $664,200

DENVER, Pa. – An international call to arms resulted in an $8.4 million total at Morphy’s May 27-29 auction, which teamed a “Founders & Patriots Arms & Militaria” session with a two-day lineup of “Extraordinary, Sporting & Collector Firearms.” Absentee and Internet live bidding was facilitated by LiveAuctioneers.

Highlights included Revolutionary War tomahawk, $664,200; Annie Oakley’s “Little Miss Sure Shot” rifle, $528,900; H. Fox shotgun, $159,900; Singer WWII pistol $129,150

Phone lines buzzed nonstop while online bids flowed in from all over the United States and abroad. “Any question as to the strength of the market for rare firearms and important militaria was resolved by the end of our sale,” said Morphy Auctions Founder and President Dan Morphy. “From our vantage point, we could see just how strong the hobby is right now. In addition to advanced collectors who went for the very rare and unique pieces, there were many enthusiastic new collectors who were guided by our experts’ meticulously detailed catalog descriptions. At every level, buyers were thrilled with their purchases.”

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Attributed to Alexander Ritchie (American, 1782-1862), rediscovered ‘Portrait of General John Stark,’ oil on canvas, missing from public view for 170+ years. Sold for $28,290

The undisputed star of the Founders & Patriots session was a circa 1765-1770 Revolutionary War presentation pipe tomahawk (shown at top of page) made by Ft. Pitt armorer and future army general Richard Butler and inscribed to Lieutenant John McClellan of the Pennsylvania Riflemen. Arguably the most important and best-known American tomahawk in existence, it was featured in the 2005 traveling museum exhibition “Clash of Empires: The British, French & Indian War, 1754-1763” and counted amongst its previous owners The Earl of Warwick (Warwick Castle, England), who loaned the tomahawk for display at The Tower of London. Opening at $240,000, it sold to an American buyer for $664,200, a world-record auction price for a tomahawk.

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Extremely rare presentation pipe tomahawk dated 1760, as gifted by King Louis XV to Indian chief allies of the French in North America during the Seven Years War. Sold for $168,000

Another extremely rare presentation pipe tomahawk, dated 1760, was a gift from King Louis XV to Indian-chief allies of the French in North America during the Seven Years War. It took in a hefty $168,000.

Morphy

(A) P1756 British ‘Long Land’ .80-caliber smoothbore musket of the 43rd Regiment of Foot, whose distinguished record included engagements at Lexington, Concord, Bunkers Hill and Yorktown. Book example. Sold for $73,800

Revolutionary War-era firearms were in great demand, as well. A book example of an (A) P1756 British “Long Land” .80-caliber smoothbore musket of the 43rd Regiment of Foot, whose distinguished record included engagements at Lexington, Concord, Bunkers Hill and Yorktown, commanded $73,800. Made in France and exported to New England, an M1763 “fusil,” or musket, with bayonet was marked for the 1st New Hampshire Battalion by Exeter, N.H., silversmith John Ward Gilman in 1777. It closed at $49,200. Another highlight was one of only two surviving examples of a Hanoverian-pattern 1776 flintlock rifle, .68 caliber rifled, from 200 rifles originally ordered from August Heinrich Huhnstock of Hanover, Germany, by the British Board of Ordnance on Jan. 4, 1776. It went off to a new owner for $34,440.

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Rare French M1763 ‘fusil,’ or musket, with bayonet. Marked for the 1st New Hampshire Battalion by Exeter, N.H., silversmith John Ward Gilman in 1777. Sold for $49,200

An American Revolution-era bloodstone seal with 13 “stars” representing the colonies and engraved “For Liberty I Live” is believed to have been created for a member of the Sons of Liberty, with metalwork very likely by Paul Revere, who was a member of the secret revolutionary group. The seal was bid to $23,370.

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Annie Oakley’s (1860-1926) custom-made ‘Little Miss Sure Shot’ Stevens Model 44 .25-20 single-shot rifle, “ANNIE OAKLEY” and “NUTLEY N.J.” [location of Oakley and husband Frank Butler’s first home]. Pictured on three pages of R.I. Wilson’s book about Buffalo Bill. Sold for $528,900 against an estimate of $200,000-$400,000

Few, if any, people alive today ever witnessed the uncanny shooting expertise of Annie Oakley (1860-1926), the diminutive star of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Her last professional appearance was nearly a century ago, yet her legend has never waned. A top prize in Morphy’s sale was Oakley’s own custom-made Stevens Model 44 .24-20 single-shot rifle engraved in high relief with her name on one side and the city where she lived, Nutley, N.J., on the other.

 

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A close-up view of the engraved Stevens Model 44 .25-20 single-shot rifle given to Annie Oakley. Image courtesy of Morphy Auctions

It is the very gun shown on three pages of R.I. Wilson’s book about Buffalo Bill. Estimated at $200,000-$400,000, the rifle handily surpassed expectations to sell for $528,900, the top seller of the May 28-29 firearms sessions.

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Fresh-to-market, recently discovered H. Fox FE grade 20-bore shotgun with case, near mint and exceedingly rare, one of six made. Engraved ‘CHROMOX FLUID STEEL / SAVAGE ARMS CORP., UTICA, N.Y. U.S.A.’ on tops and twice signed by W.H. Gough. Sold for $159,900

Recently discovered and fresh to the market, an exceedingly rare, near-mint H. Fox FE grade 20-bore shotgun with case was engraved “CHROMOX FLUID STEEL / SAVAGE ARMS CORP., UTICA, N.Y. U.S.A.” and twice signed by W.H. Gough. One of only six guns of its type ever produced, it had a spectacular run before settling at $159,900.

Morphy

Extremely rare and desirable Singer Manufacturing Co., M1911-A1 semi-automatic pistol, .45 ACP, one of 500 made during WWII, mostly for the US Army Air Corps. Outstanding original example. Sold for $129,150

In “extremely fine and choice condition,” a Parker DHE 28 bore skeet shotgun with case came to auction with a PGCA letter indicating it had originally shipped in 1939 to Iver Johnson Sporting Goods in Boston. It was pursued to $58,880. Made in 1991 and in extremely fine condition, an Ivo Fabbri 12 bore over/under shotgun engraved by G. Studeto/Creative Arts realized $58,425.

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Parker DHE 28 bore skeet shotgun with case. Extremely fine and choice condition. Accompanying PGCA letter indicates gun was originally shipped in 1939 to Iver Johnson Sporting Goods in Boston. Sold for $58,880

Antique machine guns, which are classified as curios and relics, draw an avid following to Morphy’s firearms sales. An original Colt commercial Model 1919 Browning automatic rifle (B.A.R.) machine gun in beautiful condition sold for $61,500, while a Beretta 9mm Model 38A came with political provenance. This particular machine gun had been amnesty-registered by 1964 US presidential candidate the late Senator Barry Goldwater. It sold for $46,740.

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Original Colt commercial Model 1919 Browning automatic rifle (B.A.R.) machine gun, classified as a curio and relic. Beautiful condition. Sold for $61,500

 

The most talked-about, asked-about handgun in the sale was a very rare and desirable Singer Manufacturing Co., M1911-A1 .45 ACP semi-automatic pistol in outstanding original condition. It is one of 500 that were made during WWII, mostly for the US Army Air Corps. It rose rapidly to a final selling price of $129,150.

Morphy

Extremely rare and desirable Singer Manufacturing Co., M1911-A1 semi-automatic pistol, .45 ACP, one of 500 made during WWII, mostly for the US Army Air Corps. Outstanding original example. Sold for $129,150

A wonderfully visual trompe l’oeil oil-on-canvas painting by Astley D.M. Cooper (American, 1856-1924) included depictions of notable Native Americans Sioux Chief Red Cloud and Princess Prairie Flower, as well as images of Indian relics and a buffalo. The 1905 artwork by a recognized and well-respected frontier painter sold for $135,300.

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Frontier artist Astley D.M. Cooper (American, 1856-1924), 65- x 82-inch trompe l’oeil oil-on-canvas painting of Native Americans (including Sioux Chief Red Cloud and Princess Prairie Flower), with images of a buffalo and Indian relics, 1905. Sold for $135,300

To discuss consigning to a future Morphy Auctions firearms or militaria sale, call 877-968-8880 or email info@morphyauctions.com.