Museum firearms at front line of Holabird auction July 26-28

Museum firearms

Stevens 1880s-era tip-up, heavy-barrel, black powder, .22 caliber long rifle engraved, ‘From Buffalo Bill to Night-Hawk & Broncho Bill,’ with a historical photo of Buffalo Bill and Dr. D. Frank Powell, aka Night-Hawk. Estimate: $25,000-$75,000. Holabird image

CLAREMORE, Okla. – About 2,400 antique firearms from the private collection of J.M. Davis – part of the largest privately held firearms collection in the world, one spanning multiple conflicts and generations – will be offered in a big three-day auction, July 26-28, by Holabird Western Americana Collections, at the J.M. Davis Arms and Historical Museum in Claremore. Bid absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers.

In addition to antique firearms, the auction will also feature swords, knives, Native Americana and other eclectic collectibles and rarities. Money raised will provide ongoing funding for the preservation, conservation and upkeep of the J.M. Davis Collection, presently housed at the museum that bears his name. The museum is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

The firearms to be auctioned have not seen the light of day for 50 years.

One of the highlight lots of the sale is a Stevens .22 caliber long rifle (above) engraved, “From Buffalo Bill to Night-Hawk & Broncho Bill.” Accompanying the 1880s-era tip-up, heavy-barrel, black powder rifle is a published historical photo of Buffalo Bill Cody himself, pictured with the rifle and Dr. D. Frank Powell, aka Night-Hawk. Dr. Powell, along with two other brothers and Cody, were business partners in an entertainment syndicate worth about $9 million.

Other firearms expected to attract keen interest include the following:

– An 1879 John Browning high-wall, single-shot rifle with serial #127 made in Browning’s gun shop in Ogden, Utah. The gun is still “in the white” (cared for since its manufacture).

Museum firearms

Browning falling block, single-shot rifle, sn# 127, which was sold as a prototype in 1893 to Thomas Bennett, VP and general manager of Winchester. Estimate: $12,000-$18,000. Holabird image

– A G. Wallis 10-gauge flintlock musket that was made during the American Colonial period and of French fowler design. It is 52 inches long overall and is one of at least six firearms from the era offered in the auction.

– An early American, Revolutionary War-era musket with the original flintlock and influenced by the British “Brown Bess” design and later reshaped for hunting rather than military use.

– A 1798 Federal Period U.S. contract musket that could very well have seen action in the War of 1812. Based on the French Charleville design and built by American craftsmen.

Museum firearms

Beautifully crafted S. Hawken 1850s Kentucky rifle, half-stock of walnut with a full engraved lock that appears to be original to the gun, barrel flat marked ‘S. Hawken.’ Estimate: $500-$1,000. Holabird image

– A circa 1830s Sam Hawken Kentucky rifle, one of at least 101 rifles being offered from America’s first gold rush and fur trade eras. The half-stock rifle is signed “S. Hawken.”

– A Parkers-Snow & Co. (Meriden, Conn.) musket, dated 1864 on the lock just above the trigger and built under contract for Civil War use. One of over 100 Civil War-era rifles in the auction.

– An Allen & Wheelock Civil War rifle, one of fewer than 2,000 made and chambered as a rare .42 Ethan Allen (later called the .42 Forehand & Wadsworth). The barrel is 25.4 inches long.

Museum firearms

Allen & Wheelock single-shot, falling block target rifle made circa the early 1860s in Worcester, Mass., used during the Civil War and one of only 2,000 made, in fine shape. Estimate: $1,000-$2,000. Holabird image

– A high-grade and beautiful Luete German Drilling 16-gauge, double-barrel shotgun over 8.5 mm rifle. The backlot plate and receiver both engraved with gold filigree inlay.

Museum firearms

High-grade, heavily engraved G. Leute German drilling, 16 gauge x 16 gauge over an 8.5 mm rifle, gold inlaid, relief carved of a stag in flight, a back-action lock hammer gun. Estimate: $3,500-$5,000. Holabird image

– A Krag Jorgeson, 1898 30-40 caliber bolt-action battle rifle from the Spanish-American War (one of more than 60 rifles from the era). The weapon is in near-original condition.

– A Springfield Model 1903 30-06 battle rifle, likely used during World War I and maybe even World War II. It is marked with, “U.S. Springfield Armory Model 1903 – 217406.”

– A World War II M1 carbine, circa 1942-1945, made by an unknown manufacturer and in excellent condition, with initials “JHL” carved into the stock. One of more than 85 from the era.

– A Gounne V Gronzabol AYA Matador side-by-side, double-barrel shotgun in .410 gauge, with the break at the top. Made in Spain and in nearly new shape, with nice checking.

Museum firearms

Matador double-barrel shotgun made in Spain in the 1970s, Gounne V Gronzabol, in near-new condition, featuring the highly sought after .410 caliber. Estimate: $1,000-$1,800. Holabird image

Also offered in the sale will be hundreds of antique swords and a significant amount of Americana, to include Native Americana, especially stone objects and historic Midwestern pottery. Also up for bid will be thousands of pinbacks and ribbons dating from the 1890s to around 1940 in a range of subject matter including rare baseball examples from the 1920s.

The Native American stoneware is particularly exceptional and features items ranging from arrowheads to tomahawks. There are fewer than a dozen Native American pots in the sale, but all are desirable. Half are ancient and from the Midwestern United States; the other half were dug up in Panama, during the excavation of the Canal, and some have museum labels from the 1920s.

The swords date from the medieval period to around World War II and there are both private and military examples. Many of the 19th century swords came out of Solinger, Germany, where there were once 20 or more sword manufacturers plying their trade.

For the firearms, there will be a seven-day “pay and pick-up” rule in force, whereby winning bidders will be required to pay for and pick up their firearm(s) within a week of the sale. Half the guns in the sale are “FFL” and will require compliance with all Federal and state firearms laws.

M. Davis’s love of firearms began in 1894, at age 7 when his father gave him .410-gauge shotgun, this sparking his passion for collecting. By 1929 he had 99 guns and began to display them in the Mason Hotel in downtown Claremore, which he and his wife, Addie, had purchased in 1917. In 1965, the J.M. Davis Foundation was set up to manage his vast collection.

Over the course of several decades, Davis’s collection swelled to 20,000 firearms and other collectibles. Today the bulk of the collection is displayed to the public at the 40,000-square-foot J.M. Davis Arms and Historical Museum, operated by the State of Oklahoma. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central time. Admission is by donation.

For details contact Holabird Western Americana Collections at 775-851-1859 or 844-492-2766 or