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Japanese arms & armor

Cowan’s to sell museum-quality Japanese arms & armor Sept. 2

Japanese arms & armor
Fine and rare Japanese samurai somen mempo. Estimate: $3,000-$5,000. Cowan’s image

CINCINNATI – Cowan’s will offer the finest collection of Japanese arms and armor to be brought to public auction in 30 years at its arms and armor auction Sept. 2. The Lore and Dave Squier Collection spans over 500 years of Japanese history and celebrates the skillful artistry and design that have historically made Japanese arms and armor the centerpieces of museums and private collections alike. Bid absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers.

“This truly is a special collection,” said Bill Lewis, Cowan’s director of Arms & Armor. “While these blades and armor were designed for a functional purpose, they were also crafted with such meticulous care and skill that they are more art than artifact. The passion the Squier family had for samurai culture exudes from every piece, whether it be a gilted blade made for a shogun, or the unassuming katana of a samurai.”

Lore and Dave Squier acquired Japanese arms, armor and fittings quietly and passionately over more than 50 years. Lore was the chief curator of their cherished collection, and despite countless attempts over the decades to part with even the most modest blade, she ultimately never sold a single piece. The Squier Collection offers the samurai sword aficionado a completely untouched group of more than 100 tanto, wakizash, katana and tachi as well as dozens of fittings, two genuine somen, several fine kabuto, a good yoroi and two tanegashima.

“It’s without a doubt the finest collection to come to market since the Dr. Walter Compton Collection sold at Christie’s in 1992,” said Lewis. “We’re preparing for a flood of interest from around the globe.”

While nearly every lot in this collection would be a fine addition to any collection, highlights from the collection include two rare Somen mempo. The first (above) is unsigned though likely crafted by Myochin armorers, and is estimated to sell for $3,000-$5,000, while the second (Lot 135) comes from the Edo period and should bring $2,000-$3,000.

Japanese arms & armor
Edo Period Japanese samurai armor. Estimate: $6,000-$8,000. Cowan’s image

Other highlights from the collection include a partial set of Edo period armor (above) with a presale estimate of $6,000-$8,000; a matching pair of Japanese samurai swords (Daisho) Wakashi signed Izmi (no) Kami Fujiwari Kunsida (below) estimated at for $6,000-$8,000; and a Shinshinto tachi featuring over 100 characters (Lot 142) with an estimate of $5,000-$7,000.

Japanese arms & armor
Matching pair of Japanese samurai swords (daisho). Estimate: $6,000-$8,000. Cowan’s image

In the European arms category, a remarkable Beretta Model 11 hammerless shotgun engraved by the Italian master engraver Bregoli (Lot 335) is expected to be the top lot of the auction. This shotgun showcases a fine floral and banknote-style engraving on the frame, trigger guard, and lower and upper tang with a depiction of a hunter and a trio of setters on the left side lock. This remarkable firearm is sold with the original factory letter and is estimated to sell for $40,000- $60,000.

Japanese arms & armor
Detail of the engraving on the Beretta Model 11 hammerless shotgun. Estimate: $40,000-$60,000. Cowan’s image

The top lot of the American arms category is expected to be a deluxe factory exhibition engraved English Hartford Colt Third Model Dragoon revolver (Lot 310). Although made at Colt’s Hartford, Connecticut, factory, the revolver is profusely engraved in the finest English style with tight flowing foliate scrolls, with flowing feathery leaf motif boarders and a fan motif at the top of the grip strap and was made to appeal to international buyers. The revolver is expected to fetch between $20,000-$30,000.

Japanese arms & armor
Deluxe factory exhibition engraved English Hartford Colt Third Model Dragoon revolver. Estimate: $20,000-$30,000. Cowan’s image

Cowan’s arms and armor auction will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 2, at Cowan’s Cincinnati saleroom beginning at 10: a.m. (EDT).

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Japanese arms & armor