Morphy’s April 11-13 Firearms & Militaria Auction ‘presents arms’ of exceptional quality, rarity and provenance
DENVER, Pa. – At every level of the antique firearms hobby, savvy collectors are guided by three non-negotiables when considering a purchase: impeccable provenance, genuine rarity and unimpeachable condition. They will find all three qualities in uncompromising abundance at Morphy’s April 11-13 Firearms & Militaria Auction. Bid absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers.
Featured: Class 3 weapons, historical Colts, Confederate Tallassee percussion carbine, circa-1835 John Armstrong Kentucky rifle
From a documented Springfield M1903 recovered from the USS California at Pearl Harbor to the only known privately held Tallassee Carbine to a five-star license plate from General Douglas MacArthur’s Korean War command vehicle, the 1,238-lot auction delivers some of the rarest and finest firearms and military relics ever to reach the open marketplace.
The parade of illustrious Colt handguns is led by the aforementioned .45-caliber Single Action Army Revolver, one of 18 of its type displayed at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. It was part of Colt’s legendary “Wheel of Colts” display and is documented as such in the 1877 (Henry) Folsom List, which details some of the arms Colt exhibited at the event. This newly discovered connoisseur’s firearm has a nickel and gold finish, and is exquisitely factory-engraved. It comes to auction with a $60,000-$120,000 estimate.
Yet another magnificent Colt – documented and 100% original – is a No. 5 “Texas Model” Paterson Single-Action Percussion Revolver, a type associated with the Republic of Texas and noted for its use by Texas Rangers and the Texas Navy. Approximately 1,000 Texas Patersons were produced, all from 1838-1840, and were serial-numbered from 1-1,000. The auction example is numbered 996. It has a long and distinguished line of provenance and will convey with a 2006 John Sexton appraisal document. The pre-sale estimate is $50,000-$80,000.
A stunning survivor, a .40-caliber percussion Kentucky long rifle (shown at top of page) made circa 1835 by master gunsmith John Armstrong of Emmitsburg, Maryland, is one of only four known original Armstrong percussion rifles. Its stock is superbly carved, and it boasts a brass inlaid plate on the barrel signed JOHN ARMSTRONG and a handmade percussion lock script-signed J A. This Golden Age rifle in impeccable condition was previously in the Joseph Kindig collection and will now be offered by Morphy’s with a $70,000-$100,000 estimate.
Strong competition is expected when an extraordinarily rare Confederate Tallassee percussion carbine crosses the auction block. It is one of only 500 that were manufactured, all between June 1864 and April 1865. Few extant examples are known, with most residing in important museum collections. The carbine is marked CS / Tallassee / Ala. and is dated 1864. It is the first and only firearm of its particular type ever to be offered at auction. Accompanied by a Statement of Provenance, it is estimated at $80,000-$120,000.
Two shotguns, in particular, could easily be described as “fit for a king.” A circa-1988 Armi Fabbri bespoke over/under shotgun with demi-bloc 27-inch nitro proof blued steel barrels and Italian proof marks was expertly decorated by Master Engraver Claudio Tomasoni. The motif includes game scenes, floral bouquets and tight scrolls. A flawless example in a fitted Fabbri leather case, it is expected to achieve $70,000-$110,000 at auction.
The second shotgun of note is a British treasure – a circa-1977 James Purdey 20-gauge side-by-side that presents in near-perfect condition. The Purdey name and address are shown on the barrels, and the decorative program includes artful images of game birds and lush foliage created by Master Engraver KC Hunt. In a fitted Purdey case with accessories, this fabulous sporting arm could reach $30,000-$50,000 on auction day.
There are three auction lots, in particular, that deserve their own unique categories. The first is a rare, ornately polychrome decorated Havana map powder horn with the name “James Hobert.” The main inscription above the map image reads: THE CITY OF HAVANA ILLUMINATED AT THE EMBARKATION / OF THE BRITISH TROOPS JULY THE 7TH 1763. This particular horn appears in a 2-page spread in Nathan Swayze’s book Engraved Powder Horns of the French & Indian War and the Revolutionary War Era. Its extensive line of provenance includes Swayze and Joe Kindig III, amongst others. The estimate is $50,000-$75,000.
The second “unicorn” is a lock of hair taken from Abraham Lincoln’s hair after his death. The hair is tied with a small black ribbon and housed in a leatherette photographic case together with an engraved portrait of Lincoln. The presidential keepsake was formerly owned by Dr John K Lattimer, author of Lincoln and Kennedy: Medical and Ballistic Comparisons of The Assassinations. Estimate: $10,000-$20,000
The trio of “uniques” is rounded out by a 5-star license plate that was affixed to the front of General Douglas MacArthur’s command car in Asia. It is documented as having been the first plate used by MacArthur after his promotion to 5-star general in 1944 – hence the five-star pattern. The plate was brought home from Korea by Major General Henry K Kellogg. Offered with paperwork, it is estimated at $10,000-$20,000.
Morphy’s April 11-13, 2023 Firearms & Militaria Auction will start at 9 a.m. EDT on all three days. Bid absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers. Questions: call 877-968-8880 or email email@example.com.