CINCINNATI – Cowan’s Auctions is partnering with Peter Wainwright in the auction of his unrivaled collection on Sept. 12. This single-owner sale features unique and diverse examples spanning every stage of firearms development from early matchlocks to the closing days of World War II. A collection of this scope and quality is unlike any other offered in the United States in recent memory.
“This collection truly is the stuff dreams are made of. It’s the culmination of a half a century of work by one of the great connoisseurs of the collecting world,” said Jack Lewis, Cowan’s director of firearms and militaria.
The auction features historically significant pieces from every century of American history. From the 19th century, interest is expected to be especially high in a unique 1819 pre-Bowie type knife (above) that once belonged to David “Davey” Crockett (1786–1836) and gifted to the Peale Museum by Crockett’s close friend Charles Wilson Peale (1741–1827). The knife was in the possession of the Wainwright family for over 140 years.
In addition to being one of the best known and respected historic firearm collectors in the world, Peter Wainwright is a cousin of a great American hero, Gen. Jonathan M. Wainwright, who was the commander of Allied forces in the Philippines during the Japanese invasion of the island nation. When the Japanese military overwhelmed the Allied forces, he was forced to surrender and became the highest-ranking American prisoner of war during World War II. Despite his rank, Wainwright endured untold mistreatment during his three years in prison but remained a symbol of hope and inspiration for his men during the occupation. After the war, Wainwright was promoted to four-star general and awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Cowan’s specialists are still in the process of cataloging what is expected to be a more than 300-lot sale.