Morphy Auctions to sell famed Hench firearms collection Oct. 30
DENVER, Pa. – On Wednesday, Oct. 30, Morphy Auctions will host a gallery auction devoted exclusively to antique firearms, accessories, militaria, swords and edged weapons amassed over 50+ years by Stephen D. and Marcy Hench. Bid absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers.
“There is already enormous interest in this sale because of the Hench name,” said Morphy Auctions president and founder Dan Morphy. “With his wife Marcy – a fine art expert – as his supportive partner, Steve Hench has been a committed proponent and leader in the antique gun hobby since the 1960s. As we learned firsthand when he was Morphy’s Rifles and Firearms specialist, Steve’s knowledge of early American firearms is immense.”
Hench is a lifetime member of the Kentucky Rifle Association and served on its board of directors for nine years. He also served on the Kentucky Rifle Foundation’s board for 15 years and is a member of the prestigious American Society of Arms Collectors. In 2010, Hench co-authored a landmark publication, Moravian Gunmaking I. He also contributed knowledge and guns from his collection for illustration in Volume II.
The star of the Hench collection is a Moravian flintlock rifle with bayonet known as the “Lion and Lamb,” in reference to the beautifully crafted embellishments on its stock and patchbox finial. The .50-caliber rifle (above) is attributed to Moravian gunsmith Andreas Albrecht, who worked in Christian Springs, Pennsylvania at the time of the gun’s production. Its many high-quality early features make it a piece to study and admire, both as a firearm and work of art. Displayed previously at the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, it also appears on the cover of Moravian Gunmaking I. “We think this gun is probably the most important and decorative Kentucky rifle in existence,” Dan Morphy said. Its presale estimate is $250,000-$500,000.
Another exceptionally rare and fine flintlock rifle (below)bears a Wilhelm Landgraf monogram and is signed “B. Pistor,” referring to Benhard Pistor, a gunsmith from Cassel, Germany. Pistor produced firearms for the Landgraf family who, in turn, supplied the arms to mercenaries sent to fight the Colonists during the American Revolution. The .60-caliber gun is pictured in the book Battle Weapons of the American Revolution by George C. Neumann, and is one of only two of its type known to exist, the other being in the West Point Museum. Estimate: $50,000-$100,000
An authentic, documented Indian-chief-grade trade musket, sometimes known as a “medallion” gun because of the relief image of a chief on its escutcheon, is a prime example of its particular type of firearm. Stamped “WHEELER” on its lock, it is a style of gun that was made in London from around 1790 until 1807 expressly for presentation to Indian chiefs or other important tribal members during special ceremonies. The gun was featured in the centerfold of the 1950s book Native Americans, Explorers and Traders: Traces of Early Cross-Cultural Exchange in Wisconsin by Herman Bender and is entered in the auction with a $6,000-$12,000 estimate.
A fine silver-hilted cavalry saber inscribed For My Country and Pennsylvania Light Dragons (sic., Dragoons) was created around 1810 by master silversmith William Mannerback. A handsome production, it was photographed and described in the 2010 exhibition catalog for a Berks County (Pa.) Historical Society exhibition titled “The Mannerbacks; Reading Master Silversmiths 1785 to 1870.” Estimate: $15,000-$25,000
The Hench collection includes 31 rare and outstanding powder horns. A historically significant horn dated “1775” was owned by Daniel Kinne of Patridgefield (now Peru), Massachusetts, who fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill. The bold inscription on the horn testifies to its service, reading: “Danniel/kinne: Deakon (sic.) in ye Church At / Partridgefield / His horn charlston [sic., Charlestown, Boston] Sept. Ye 1775 / 1775 on bunkor (sic.) hill June Ye/17 was The Fight.” Noted powder horn collector Walter O’Connor knew of only five other powder horns inscribed to soldiers who fought at Bunker Hill. The example in the Hench collection is believed to be one of only three extant horns bearing the name of a Minuteman from that battle. It is also possibly the only such horn that details the battle. It is expected to make $25,000-$50,000 at auction.
A unique engraved horn dated “1770” belonged to Connecticut Colonist Zachariah Howes (1754-1824) and displays the poem: “IF HORNS YOU LOVE IF HORNS YOU CRAVE / NOW FOR ONE CROWN THIS YOU MAY HAVE / ZAHARIAH HOWES HIS HORN 1770 / MADE AT LEBANON [Conn.] JUNE 9.” It is further decorated with images of war vessels, forts, chickens, two New England churches and foliate designs. Previously exhibited at the Fort Pitt Museum in Pittsburgh, it comes to auction with a $20,000-$40,000 estimate.
The third featured powder horn, dated “1777,” is engraved with cityscapes of both Philadelphia and New York and is inscribed “DAVID EGLESTON’S HORN MADE / DEC’R 17 AD, 1777, IN, THE, ARMY.” Egleston was at Valley Forge from December 1777 and May 1778, and is listed in the rolls of Connecticut men who served in the French and Indian War. Other decorations on the horn include forts, ships coming into Philadelphia Harbor, a mermaid, fish, windmill and cannons. Estimate: $15,000-$30,000
The Oct. 30 auction of the Stephen and Marcy Hench Collection will be held at Morphy’s gallery in Denver, Pa., starting at 9 a.m. ET. Questions: call 877-968-8880, email email@example.com.