Antique arms, edged weapons, suits of armor and modern sporting guns brought more than $1.5-million during a day-long auction at Bonhams & Butterfields in San Francisco on Monday, November 23rd 2009. A global audience of collectors and dealers vied for Colt firearms, edged weapons and militaria, with strong prices realized throughout the sale. A rare ornate lime squeezer made in San Francisco in the mid-1800s brought nearly $30,000 – six times its pre-sale expectation.
Desirable lots in the November antique arms sale comprised Colt firearms. A factory engraved Colt single action Army revolver attributed to Cuno E. Helfricht brought $38,025, more than doubling the estimate. Colt factory records indicate the pistol was shipped in 1888. It retains its blued finish and scrollwork, its elephant ivory grip carved with a Mexican eagle grasping a snake. An historic Gustave Young-engraved Colt Model 1860 Army percussion revolver was one of a pair presented to military commanders. The .44-caliber pistol’s engraving depicts a dog’s head as well as an eagle’s head and has been illustrated in multiple books documenting the history and beauty of Colt engraving. Estimated at $12/18,000, the Colt pistol brought $16,380.
Another fine Gustave Young engraved and presentation inscribed Colt Model 1849 pocket percussion revolver doubled its estimate to bring $14,625. This pistol’s barrel displays an animal head engraved to one side while a stagecoach hold-up scene appears on the five-shot cylinder. A collector paid $15,210 for a scarce cased Colt Model 1851 Navy percussion revolver with shoulder stock, a Hartford-produced revolver intended for the London market but never shipped overseas.
An interesting and rare lot made by the noted (and highly collectible) San Francisco knife-maker Michael Price brought bids from several clients. An elaborate silver and ivory-mounted San Francisco lime squeezer by Price features silver handles in the form of bird claws gripping the egg-shaped elephant ivory squeezer, supported by marine ivory handles. Estimated at $3/5,000, bids climbed to nearly ten times the expectation, the lime squeezer ultimately bringing $29, 250.
Top lot of the day was a composite late-16th century Italian three-quarter suit of armor in the Pisan manner. The suit exceeded its estimate to sell for $70,200.
Bidders were attracted to many firearms, swords and Bowie knives stemming from private collections. Strong selling lots included: $15,210 paid for a First type Model 1808 Virginia Manufactory flintlock pistol and $21,060 paid for a U.S. Model 1811 flintlock martial pistol by Simeon North. A rare Confederate Morse Type I breech loading carbine is one of 200 rifles made. The model was designed by George Washington Morse, who was granted a patent on breach loading firearms as early as 1856. His rifles, manufactured in Greensboro, SC, were issued mainly to South Carolina units, the offered rifle brought $16,380.
A rare 1st Model Burnside breech loading percussion carbine, one of 300 produced by the Bristol Firearms Company, sold for $17,550 while another example of a 1st Model Burnside breech loading percussion carbine - this lot one of 50 altered transitional 1st Models - sold for $16,380. The majority of these Burnside carbines had been purchased by the government for the 1st US Cavalry. According to Bonhams & Butterfields specialists, the offered carbines were likely reserved for commercial sale.
Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's oldest and largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son and Neale UK. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America and in August 2003, Goodmans, a leading Australian fine art and antiques auctioneer with salerooms in Sydney, joined the Bonhams Group of Companies. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street, and Knightsbridge, and a further seven throughout the UK. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Boston in the USA; and Switzerland, France, Monaco, Australia, Hong Kong and Dubai. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 57 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments, go to www.bonhams.com. (01-08) For other press releases, go to www.bonhams.com/press.