An international call to arms resulted in an $8.4 million total at Morphy’s May 27-29 auction, which teamed a “Founders & Patriots Arms & Militaria” session with a two-day lineup of “Extraordinary, Sporting & Collector Firearms.”
Phone lines buzzed nonstop while online bids flowed in from all over the United States and abroad. “Any question as to the strength of the market for rare firearms and important militaria was resolved by the end of our sale,” said Morphy Auctions Founder and President Dan Morphy. “From our vantage point, we could see just how strong the hobby is right now. At every level, buyers were thrilled with their purchases.”
Best in Auction
The undisputed star of the Founders & Patriots session was a circa 1765-1770 Revolutionary War presentation pipe tomahawk made by Ft. Pitt armorer and future army general Richard Butler and inscribed to Lieutenant John McClellan of the Pennsylvania Riflemen. Arguably the most important and best-known American tomahawk in existence, its previous owners included The Earl of Warwick (Warwick Castle, England), who loaned the tomahawk for display at The Tower of London. It sold for $664,200, a world-record auction price for a tomahawk.
Another extremely rare presentation pipe tomahawk, dated 1760, was a gift from King Louis XV to Indian-chief allies of the French in North America during the Seven Years War. It rose to $168,000.
Revolutionary War-era firearms were in great demand, as well. An (A) P1756 British “Long Land” .80-caliber smoothbore musket of the 43rd Regiment of Foot, whose distinguished record included engagements at Lexington, Concord, Bunkers Hill and Yorktown, commanded $73,800.
Made in France and exported to New England, an M1763 “fusil,” or musket, with bayonet was marked for the 1st New Hampshire Battalion by Exeter, N.H., silversmith John Ward Gilman in 1777. It closed at $49,200.
Another highlight was one of only two surviving examples of a Hanoverian-pattern 1776 flintlock rifle, .68-caliber rifled, from 200 such guns originally ordered by the British Board of Ordnance on Jan. 4, 1776. It earned $34,440. A top prize in Morphy’s sale was Annie Oakley’s (1860-1926) own custom-made Stevens Model 44 .24-20 single-shot rifle engraved in high relief with her name on one side and the city where she lived, Nutley, N.J., on the other. It sold for $528,900.
Recently discovered and fresh to the market, an exceedingly rare, near-mint H. Fox FE grade 20-bore shotgun with case was engraved “CHROMOX FLUID STEEL / SAVAGE ARMS CORP., UTICA, N.Y. U.S.A.” and twice signed by W.H. Gough. One of only six guns of its type ever produced, it had a spectacular run before settling at $159,900.
Antique machine guns, which are classified as curios and relics, draw an avid following to Morphy’s firearms sales. An original Colt commercial Model 1919 Browning automatic rifle (B.A.R.) machine gun in beautiful condition sold for $61,500, while a Beretta 9mm Model 38A that had been amnesty-registered by the late Senator Barry Goldwater sold for $46,740.
The most talked-about, asked-about handgun in the sale was a very rare and desirable Singer Manufacturing Co., M1911-A1 .45 ACP semi-automatic pistol in outstanding original condition. One of 500 made during WWII, mostly for the US Army Air Corps, it sold for $129,150.
Consign Your Own
To discuss consigning to a future Morphy Auctions firearms or militaria sale, call 877-968-8880. You can also check out their website at www.morphyauctions.com.