DENVER, Pa. – Morphy’s will unleash three centuries of firepower on Tuesday and Wednesday, November 17 and 18, with auction sessions titled “Early Arms & Militaria from the Age of Exploration, Empire & Revolution,” and “Extraordinary, Sporting & Collector Firearms,” respectively. Collectors, military enthusiasts and history buffs are invited to bid absentee or live via the Internet through LiveAuctioneers.
Featured: Revolutionary War-era silver-mounted officer’s pistol made at Rappahannock Forge, Va; unique cased set of Colt Model 1851 Navy & Model 1855 Sidehammer revolvers
The November 17 session offers an unparalleled retrospective of colonial America’s struggle for freedom with 233 lots of rare and historically important firearms, edged weapons, powder horns, uniforms, war relics, historical documents, portraits and other significant mementos of our nation’s earliest military heroes.
Leading the prestigious lineup is an extremely rare .60-caliber smoothbore silver-mounted officer’s pistol (shown at top of page) made for private purchase at Rappahannock Forge in Virginia. Signed J. Hunter, it bears the touchmark of rifle-maker John Frederick Klette (1756-1810), who was foreman and master armorer at the forge during the Revolutionary War period. It is one of only two known examples of its type, the other being the property of the Maryland Historical Society. There is speculation amongst firearms scholars that the gun in Morphy’s sale originally belonged to Brigadier General Charles Scott (1739-1813) of the Virginia Line, who later served as governor of Kentucky. The pistol is expected to sell for $250,000-$500,000.
Many auction items come with outstanding documentation confirming their original ownership. A powder horn belonging to John Call, who served in both the French & Indian and Revolutionary Wars, is engraved with artwork typical of a Lake George School carver from the French and Indian War period. The overall motif includes numerous faces, symbols, flowery vines and the image of a soldier with a powder horn across his chest, holding a rifle in one hand and a sword in the other. It is personalized with the words: JOHN CALL HIS / HORN WOOD STOCK MARCH 21/ 1759 and the verse I POWDER WITH MY BROTHER BALL / A HERO LIKE DO CONQUER ALL. The horn is accompanied by an extensive archive of ephemera pertaining to John Call, including military records. Estimate: $15,000-$30,000An early 19th-century, three-draw, mahogany and brass marine “spyglass” is engraved on its first stage by the maker J. Richardson / 16 Somerset Street / London / Improv’d Day or Night, and is inscribed: Used by Com. Perry in the action on Lake Erie 19th Sept. 1813 / and presented by him to his friend Gen. William Henry Harrison. Perhaps one of the most iconic relics of the War of 1812 and carried by two of that conflict’s greatest American naval and military heroes, the spyglass subsequently passed down through successive generations of the Harrison family. It is accompanied by a detailed record of provenance and a document titled History of the Perry Spy Glass, written, typed and hand-signed in 1940 by General Harrison’s great-grandson, Lytle Harrison Jr. Estimate: $50,000-$100,000
Historically important, an original circa-1814 dockyard, or “admiralty,” model for the three-decker USS New Orleans – which was intended for use in the War of 1812 – was built to 1:48 scale and measures 57 7/8in long. Made of ebonized mahogany and pine, it is the earliest known US Navy dockyard model. Estimate: $50,000-$150,000
The November 19 Extraordinary, Sporting & Collector Firearms session boasts 462 lots of antique and modern shotguns, rifles, handguns, machine guns, cannons, accessories and more. At the forefront of this superlative array of arms and artillery is a historically important collection featuring a unique cased set of Colt Model 1851 Navy and Model 1855 “Root” Sidehammer revolvers made for Loren Ballou (1828-1880), a trusted friend and longtime employee of Colonel Samuel Colt. Both guns are inscribed “L. BALLOU / LONDON,” and the Model 1855 Sidehammer is the only known antique Colt firearms marked with a person’s name rather than a serial number. Other unusual design aspects of this collection reinforce the fact that Ballou held a position of great importance within the Colt organization. Extensive accompanying paperwork includes an Engineering Handbook inscribed by Samuel Colt. Estimate: $300,000-$500,000A rare and desirable martially-marked Colt Walker Model 1847 .44-caliber revolver, identified to “B Company No. 49,” is one of only 1,100 made – 1,000 earmarked for military use; 100 for civilian sale. The design for this powerful 4lb 9oz revolver was a collaborative effort between Samuel Colt and Texas Ranger Captain Samuel H. Walker, national hero of the Texas-Mexico Wars. Walker himself fired the gun past 100 yards with little effort, proclaiming “It [would take] a Texan to shoot it.” The auction estimate for this legendary firearm is $75,000-$125,000.
The auction includes 142 rifles, half being of modern manufacture and the other half, antiques. A top prize from the latter group is a Model 1874 Sharps rifle ordered in 1875 by Capt. [later Brigadier General] E.M. Coates of Fort Fetterman, Wyoming, and delivered in 1876. Paperwork includes Capt. Coates’ original handwritten letter to Sharps Rifle Co., ordering the rifle to his specifications; plus a photocopy of a return letter from the manufacturer to Coates, acknowledging receipt of his letter. Estimate: $75,000-$100,000
Some of the finest shotguns ever to pass through Morphy’s gallery will cross the auction block on November 18. Three of the top lots in this section represent the apex of British gunsmithing. A Peter V. Nelson 20-gauge over/under shotgun that was built in 1999 for The Queen’s Golden Jubilee is marked in gold: TO COMMEMORATE QUEEN ELIZABETH II GOLDEN JUBILEE, JUNE 2002. BUILT BY P.V. NELSON, ENGLAND. Also, the bottom of the under barrel reads: THE FIRST AND LAST SIDELEVER, along with the gun’s serial number. Estimate $75,000-$100,000
A very rare matched set of four circa-1976 Purdey (London) SLE Best 12 bore side-by-side shotguns come with J. Purdey & Sons motor cases, four extra barrels and cleaning accessories. The lot estimate is $60,000-$90,000. Also, an exquisite matched pair of circa-1979 Holland & Holland “The Royal” London Best 12-bore side-by-side shotguns with London proofs are engraved Holland and Holland in the manufacturer’s Royal Scroll banner. Complete with a double motor case, the duo is offered with a $60,000-$80,000 estimate.
Morphy’s Nov. 17 Early Arms & Militaria and Nov. 18 Extraordinary, Sporting & Collector Firearms Auction sessions will start at 10 a.m. ET on both days. Bid absentee or live via the Internet through LiveAuctioneers. Questions: call 877-968-8880, email email@example.com.