DENVER, Pa. – Morphy’s July 12-14 Collectible Firearms & Militaria Auction serves as a grand showcase for 1,471 lots of expertly vetted antique and vintage weapons and relics, many with noteworthy provenance. The top-notch selection follows a four-century timeline, starting with 17th-century weaponry and traversing history through European wars, the American colonial and Revolutionary War period, the Civil War, World Wars I and II, and the modern era. In addition, there are numerous specialty categories, including sporting arms and ammunition; (55) swords, (25) cannons, Nuremberg lockboxes, Native American weapons and art; and the Doug Everhart collection of Derringers. The militaria section is distinguished by six very special lots containing war heroes’ Purple Hearts.
From days of old when knights were bold – and sometimes very young – comes an exceptional circa-1620 German hand-forged three-quarters suit of armor of appropriate scale for a page (boy). Lined with canvas and brocade, the brass-studded metal suit has a brow visor, hinged cheek pieces and fingered gauntlets, and displays an attractive blackened patina. Its provenance is impeccable, having previously been part of both the Selden collection and the Bashford Dean collection. In 1931, while owned by Mr Dean, the suit was exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was auctioned in 1943 at Parke Bernet as part of the estate collection of Harriet M. Dean, who inherited the Late Renaissance treasure from her brother, Bashford. Morphy’s now offers the suit of armor with an auction estimate of $30,000-$60,000.
A fascinating weapon of the late 17th century comes with noble heritage. Known as a partisan, or partizan, it is a long-shafted spear with protrusions on the sides to aid in parrying thrusts. The example to be auctioned displays decorations for the Guard of Friedrich August I, whose titles included Elector of Saxony, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania. It is etched with Friedrich August’s crest and also bears the CFA cypher that was in use only from 1694 to 1697. With provenance from William E. Simon collection, it is estimated at $6,000-$10,000.
America’s first commander-in-chief, George Washington, is attractively depicted in his Continental general’s uniform in an unsigned circa-19th-century portrait after Rembrandt Peale (1778-1860). At age 18, Peale painted Washington from life and would go on to copy the famous original portrait 79 times throughout his life, completing the last one in 1859. A paper tag on the back of the auction portrait notes that it was relined and restored in 1931 by Hannah Horner Field of Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. With a framed size of 25 by 29 inches, this stately artwork will cross the auction block with a $70,000-$100,000 estimate.
Antique American rifles are beloved by collectors, especially those associated with historical gunsmiths. A .54-caliber Kentucky long rifle attributed to Leonard Reedy (active 1810-1837) of Berks and later Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, is crafted of curly maple stock with brass furniture that includes Reedy’s typical floral finial, a Berks-style rear sight, hand-forged lock plate and beveled sideplate. This well-provenanced gun is estimated at $5,000-$10,000.
As the timeline continues, Morphy’s will offer a fine array of Civil War swords, muskets, bayonets, pistols and carbines from both the Confederate and Union armies. Of special note is a Tiffany & Co., Model 1860 cutlass-style presentation sword inscribed to Lt Colonel Horace A. Manchester of the 1st Marine Artillery. Its auction estimate is $5,000-$10,000.
Colt fans will be well served with more than 200 entries reflecting the Connecticut company’s illustrious history of arms productions. An 1875 vintage Colt Single Action Army revolver with the serial number 19920 is a .45-caliber gun with matching numbers and is accompanied by a factory letter confirming its configuration and attesting to the gun’s shipment to H&D Folsom Arms Co., New York, NY, on July 24, 1875. The auction estimate is $3,000-$4,000.
One of 25 cannons to be sold, an impressive 33-inch breech-loading bronze signal cannon made by the Strong Fire Arms Co., is marked with the retailer’s name “CHAS. C. HUTCHINSON / 152 STATE STREET / BOSTON” above an image of the Federal Eagle. Dating to the late-19th or early 20th century, this cannon is chambered for 2-gauge blank shells. Estimate: $8,000-$12,000
An extensive selection of World War I and World War II firearms, swords, uniforms, medals and memorabilia includes German, American, British and Japanese items. Morphy’s is honored to have been entrusted with six servicemen’s Purple Hearts, those of John E Olson (US Navy, WWII, killed during a kamikaze attack on the SS John Burke); Donald S Batchelor (USMC, WWII, MIA and presumed killed following a bombing mission); Joseph C Luiz (US Navy, WWII, killed during a kamikaze attack on the USS Louisville); Roland J Bender (WWII, 303rd Bomb Group, POW); Persons W Wing (WWI, Medical Corps); and Grafton S. Stidger (WWII, USMC, killed in action). Captain Stidger’s Purple Heart is part of an archive (Lot 2208) related to his service as a Marine Corps pilot and member of “The Fighting Corsairs.” Estimated at $3,000-$5,000, the grouping also includes a ribbon bar, WWII Victory Medal, photos, a signed letter from US Navy Admiral W.F. Halsey, and Stidger’s logbook, whose closing entry notes that he was killed in action on January 14, 1944.
There are many excellent World War II-era pistols, including a Mauser Banner Swedish-contract test-trials Luger, one of only 30 chambered in 7.65 x 25mm Parabellum and fitted with 4-inch barrels. It has matching numbers and is marked 1939 over the chamber. This exact gun is depicted in the reference The Borchardt & Luger Automatic Pistols by Dr. Geoffrey Sturgess and Joachim Gortz, and comes directly from Sturgess’ own collection. Estimate: $5,000-$8,000
Another top prize is a Union Switch & Signal M1911A1 .45 ACP semi-automatic pistol, manufactured in 1943 with RCD proof for Downie and serial numbered 1091337. It is stamped UNITED STATES PROPERTY on the right side of its frame. Estimate: $3,000-$6,000
An exceptional and highly sought-after semi-automatic rifle, the Swiss SIG PE57 was manufactured for commercial sale and imported into the United States in extremely limited numbers during the 1980s. The matching-numbers rifle, Serial No. PE 3305, displays all of the appropriate markings and Swiss proofs. It comes with a sling, manuals and target. Formerly in the collection of esteemed NFA firearms enthusiast JR Moody, its estimate is $10,000-$15,000.
Donated as part of the NRA Firearms for Freedom program, a Merkel Model 280/360 28 gauge and .410 side-by-side shotgun two-barrel set comes in a maker-label fitted Italian leather-covered case. In like-new condition, this handsome set is estimated at $8,000-$12,000.
Morphy’s 12-14, 2022 Collectible Firearms & Militaria Auction will be held at the company’s Denver, Pennsylvania gallery, starting on all three days at 9 a.m. EDT. All forms of bidding will be available, including live via the Internet through Morphy Live. Questions: call 877-968-8880 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Online: www.morphyauctions.com.
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About Morphy Auctions
Morphy Auctions is a full-service auction company based in Denver, Pa.