DENVER, Pa. – On January 16, Morphy Auctions will launch its 2020 roster of high-profile gallery events with the 220-lot sale of an extraordinary Pennsylvania collection. Dubbed “The Susquehanna Collection,” the unique assemblage of furniture, decorative and fine arts, Kentucky long rifles, powder horns and accoutrements was astutely amassed by a private collector over a period of 40 years. Its contents are a testament to the pride and incomparable level of craftsmanship that typified 18th- and 19th-century firearms, furniture and everyday objects produced in the low-lying settlements alongside the Susquehanna River, in Pennsylvania, Maryland and New York.
“There is no match for the quality of artistry and craftsmanship that emerged in the Susquehanna region,” said Morphy Auctions’ president, Dan Morphy. “From gunsmiths to cabinetmakers, the bar was set very high. They used uncompromising Old World standards and techniques as the baseline for their distinctly American creations. This collection is a time-stopping showcase for what those talented artists and artisans produced, as well as other family treasures imported from Europe.”
One would have to search long and hard to find finer or more illustriously provenanced 18th-century flintlock pistols than one particular pair to be auctioned by Morphy’s. Made circa 1770-1780, the silver-mounted guns are signed “Swietzer” and are attributed to a Lancaster, Pennsylvania, locksmith who died in 1788 but appeared on local tax rolls as early as 1760. The pistols were previously in the collections of John S. duMont and Joe Kindig Jr, and have been featured in multiple publications. Additionally, they were exhibited by the York (Pa.) Historical Society. Together with a sizable archive of supportive ephemera, the guns are estimated at $50,000-$100,000.
Another pair of exceptional flintlock pistols comes from the American Revolutionary War period, with each gun dated and marked for its original owner, “Robert Roberts 1775.” Roberts served in the militia and participated in several engagements in Maryland, as well as at the battles of Brandywine and Germantown in Pennsylvania. While owned by R.H. Coleman, president of Remington Arms Co., the pistols were featured in the July 1972 issue of The American Rifleman. Accompanied by extensive documentation, photos, letters from former owners, plus sales receipts dating from as early as 1950, the coveted guns are estimated at $50,000-$100,000.
Perhaps the finest long arm in the collection, an exceptional flintlock Kentucky rifle with the Pennsylvania State Seal on its patchbox is attributed to Jacob Kuntz (1780-1876), who has been described by gun connoisseurs as being in a class of his own. Kuntz was born in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley and trained in Allentown. While the rifle from the Susquehanna Collection was made during the time Kuntz was in Philadelphia, its design shows many Lehigh characteristics. “This rifle is undoubtedly one of the finest Kuntz ever made. There will certainly be some competition for this one,” Morphy remarked. The pre-sale estimate is $40,000-$60,000.
The Germanic folk artistry of Frietrich Leppert is copiously displayed on a 1782 New York powder horn with detailed images of a man smoking a long pipe, a Georgian house, flora and foliage; and a German-language inscription that translates as a soldier’s prayer before battle. The names of both Leppert and another militiaman named “Schreibber” appear on the horn. The Revolutionary War roster of Tryon County, N.Y., confirms that both were members of Camp Bell’s regiment and taken as prisoners of war. A well-documented book example, the horn comes to auction with a $25,000-$50,000 estimate.
During the American colonial period, the hallmark of an upscale Pennsylvania residence would have been an interior décor featuring Philadelphia mahogany furniture, such as the elegant circa-1750 Queen Anne dressing table estimated at $30,000-$50,000. The cabriole legs are richly carved with a shell-and-bellflower motif, the work attributed to the shop of Samuel Harding. The secondary woods are poplar and cedar, and all brasses appear to be original. Another superb Philadelphia production, a Chippendale mahogany turret-cornered games table with ball-and-claw feet dates to circa 1770-1775. A very rare survivor of outstanding form, it could reach $20,000-$40,000 at auction. Both tables have provenance that includes Joe Kindig Antiques, a legendary multi-generational central Pennsylvania specialty business established in 1934.
An extremely rare circa-1810 neoclassical brass and ormolu mounted mantel clock would have been highly prized in any early 19th-century American home. Made by Dubuc (Paris) for the American market, it figurally depicts George Washington standing beside a monument surmounted by an American eagle. Beneath the clock’s signed enameled dial, the legend reads: “Washington First in War, First in Peace, First in the Hearts of His Countrymen.” Many surviving examples of this particular model are unsigned, making the one offered by Morphy’s even more desirable. Estimate: $40,000-$80,000
In addition to the 18th- and 19th-century items in the collection, there are important earlier pieces, including a fine and rare early 16th-century Maximilian suit of armor. It is similar to an example that appears in Of Arms and Men: Arms and Armor at the Metropolitan 1912-2012 (published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art) and has a long line of distinguished provenance. In the early 1920s, the suit was assembled by Dr. Bashford Dean, first president of the Arms & Armor Society and first curator of the Arms & Armor Gallery at The Met. Dr. Dean used period elements in the suit of armor’s assembly, including components from the collections of Carl, Prince of Prussia; and the Princes Radziwill, Nieswiez Castle, Lithuania. Both imposing and extremely attractive, the 75-inch armor suit is expected to reach $75,000-$150,000 at auction.
Morphy’s January 16, 2020 auction of The Susquehanna Collection will start at 10 a.m. Eastern Time at the company’s gallery in Denver, Pennsylvania. 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.