Colt Gatling gun rolls to $222K at Cowan’s auction

Gatling gun

The Colt Model 1883 Gatling gun, complete with its original field carriage, limber and an Accles drum achieved $222,000. Cowan’s image

CINCINNATI – One of the best and most complete Gatling guns to be offered in recent years highlighted Cowan’s December Arms & Armor Auction selling for $222,000. The gigantic Colt Model 1883 was a remarkably complete example of one of the most iconic guns of its time complete with original field carriage, limber and a rare original Accles drum.

“I’ve been doing this a long time and when I first laid eyes on this incredible piece of military history even I was blown away,” said Jack Lewis, Cowan’s director of arms and armor. “The price achieved today shows the amount of respect in the market for truly great pieces of military antiquities and that really brings a smile to my face.”

The lot opened at $65,000 before five phone bidders quickly took the lot to six figures. At the low estimate of $125,000, only two bidders remained and the pace became much more deliberate. For the next two minutes, the two determined bidders battled before a private collector ultimately won the lot for $185,000. The inclusion of a 20% buyer’s premium made the full price realized $222,000.

The Gatling gun was the top lot of Cowan’s 285 lot arms and armor auction but it was by no means the only highlight for the $1.1 million day.

Engraved pieces was the hottest category of the day with a superb Ulrich engraved gold-plated grade 15 Marlin model 1893 exhibition rifle taking the top honor selling for $51,000. The rifle was profusely engraved with flowing Arabesque foliate scrolls with a dot-matted relief carved central panel on the reverse showing a buck fighting three wolves and with another buck in the forest as the central theme for the obverse panel. The work is almost certainly that of Conrad Friedrich Ulrich Jr. who worked at Marlin during this period as their master engraver.

Other highlights from the category included a superb factory rival grade engraved Savage lever action rifle that sold for $48,000; a pair of elaborate exhibition French cased gilt and silver engraved Cooper double-action pocket percussion revolvers for $42,000; the finest known ultra-deluxe French cased pair of exhibition engraved 3rd model Plant Army Merwin & Bray revolvers with exchange percussion cylinders for $39,000; a magnificent Ulrich factory engraved gold exhibition Marlin model 1897 rifle for $36,000; and an engraved Sharps-Borchardt M1878 sporting rifle for $20,400.

Pacing the Civil War category was a rare Confederate first model Cofer revolver that sold for $90,000. This was just one of only two examples of the Type I, “split cylinder” or “patent cylinder” Cofer revolvers known to exist.