Incredibly Rare Gatling Gun Sells for $222,000 in Cowan’s $1.1M December Arms & Armor Auction

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  • December 05, 2019

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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.


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 & 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 back and forth 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 & Armor auction but it was by no means the only highlight for the $1.1M 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.

Colt Model 1883 Gatling Gun Complete With U.S. Army Field Carriage and Limber Dated 1887


“I love it when rifles like this get the attention they deserve,” said Lewis. “Pieces like these prove that firearms collecting isn’t just about history, it’s also about the artistry. I guarantee you the engraved pieces purchased today are going to be displayed just as prominently and proudly as any painting or sculpture.”


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 an extremely 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.


Other notable pieces from the auction included a third type US model 1875 trapdoor officer's rifle that sold for $24,000; a B. Collin and A. Langre Bowie knife for $13,200; a rare martially marked first model Smith & Wesson #3 American revolver with nickel finish for $10,800; one of the Colt model 1907 pistols used during the US Army’s test trials for $9,225; and a Springfield model 1873 carbine marked to the 9th US Cavalry for $9,000.

Superb Ulrich Engraved Factory Gold Plated Grade 15 Marlin Model 1893 Exhibition Rifle


The auction was held on December 4 before a near capacity audience at Cowan’s Cincinnati salesroom. For complete results of the auction, visit


About Cowan’s

A full-service auction house, Cowan’s Auctions is a leader in the industry, having disrupted the marketplace since its founding in 1995. From its Cincinnati and Cleveland salesrooms, Cowan’s holds over 60 auctions a year in the categories of historic firearms and militaria, American Indian art, American history, Americana, folk art, fine art, furniture, Asian art, coins and currency, rare books, fine jewelry and more. In 2019, Cowan’s merged with Leslie Hindman Auctioneers to form Hindman Auctions, the largest auction company in the midwestern United States. In addition to Cincinnati and Cleveland, Hindman has offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Milwaukee, Naples, Palm Beach, Scottsdale and St. Louis. For more information, visit

Eric Duncan
Cowan's Auctions

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